Episodes

Episode 25: Most Visible in its Absence

Episode 25: Most Visible in its Absence

When, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” hit the bookstores in 1984, authors Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel had no idea that their book would become a bible for expectant parents and it would top the Best Seller’s list for years to come. Even though the parents’ search to figure out the mysteries of parenting does not dwindle once the baby is born; it surely gets complicated and there is no single book that guides parent to raise self-disciplined children. Today, my guest Dr. Stephanie Carlson, will demystify Executive Function and children’s capacities to successfully self-regulate their thoughts, feelings, and actions to function autonomously and independently by pausing for reflection.

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Episode 24: Know Thyself

Episode 24: Know Thyself

The end of the year inventory often reveals a track record of failed diets, disorganization, and an ever-so thinning bank balance which is why a recent poll suggested that “lose weight,” “get organized,” and “spend less money” are the top 3 New Year’s resolutions. To change your ways upon self-reflection you need strong Executive Function skills. It’s the self-aware people who create attainable and reasonable New Year’s resolutions, but better yet, it is the self-regulated people who see them through. Striving to better oneself means developing a better relationship with yourself and cultivating strong habits. Today, my guest, Phil Zelazo, Ph.D. discusses how parents and teachers can promote the development of strong Executive Function and how better regulated members of the classroom, household, or community foster better, more modulated responses – which is the true foundation of a harmonious society.

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Epsiode 23: The Power to Resist

Epsiode 23: The Power to Resist

“In order to avoid buying those unnecessary items, don’t go shopping at those stores.” Says a financial adviser Michael Markey. But anyone who is not a stranger to temptations knows that it takes a lot to resist the holiday shopping season, starting with Black Friday to Cyber Monday and until the day-before Christmas eve, the online as well as brick and mortar retailers craft seductive deals to trap every eager consumer and last-minute shopper. For every ad, e-blast, and coupon that goes out into the cyber space, the self-help realm bulges with tips and suggestions for us to curtail powerful craving, desires, and temptations. Today, my guest Phil Zelazo, Ph.D. discusses two distinct systems – a top down a reflexive versus a bottom up more of a deliberate that blocks the onslaught of internal chatter and external distractions.

* This is Dr. Zelazo’s first Podcast where he discusses brain’s Executive system that is activated by engaging conscious awareness and deliberate intentionality.

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Episode 22: Spotlight on the Wrong Target

Episode 22: Spotlight on the Wrong Target

What does a fatal plane crash by a veteran pilot and a patient death from a wrongful dosage by an expert nurse have in common? They both might have been interrupted in the middle of critical procedures and may not have remembered to come back to where they left off. While processing information in working memory, your attention acts like a 360° searchlight and whatever it happens to illuminate is what gets attended. Even though we cannot multitask or ‘multi-attend,’ our mind foolishly persuades us that we can. Today, my guest, world-renowned working memory expert, Dr. Randy Engle, discusses how the secret of training our working memory lies in managing our attention and intention.

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Episode 21: Fine China of Cognition

Episode 21: Fine China of Cognition

If life was a play, some activities would be the star of show and others would be just ‘extras’. The mind is often full of thoughts about the upcoming main act while plowing through the mundane, such as unloading the dishwasher, taking out the garbage or rescheduling a doctor’s appointment. But no matter what the task is we are always deploying Working Memory. Working Memory is the fine-china of cognition on which you either serve an ordinary burger and fries or a rib-eye steak. On today’s podcast, Dr. Randy Engle will talk about the fascinating ‘system’ that let’s you hold on to, for example, a riddle, “Throw away the outside and cook the inside, then eat the outside and throw away the inside” and solve it without getting distracted by cars honking, people talking, or computers humming.

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ExFiles: Client Story 3 – Trevor Belmont

ExFiles: Client Story 3 – Trevor Belmont

Fame and success is not necessarily an antidote to self-doubt. Oscar-winning singer-songwriter, Sam Smith, once said, “I still doubt myself as a singer every day. Every time I step off the stage, I have ask someone what it was like. …I really think I need to work on it.” The young performer’s life has seen some ups and downs, such as losing anonymity and putting his foot in his own mouth in front of 9 million people by inaccurately stating a fact during his Oscar acceptance speech, for which he was heavily criticized. Reading about Sam Smith you can learn that if you channel that self-acceptance through artistic courage into creating personal and confessional songs, people will respond to it and you yourself grow from it.

Today, my client, Trevor Belmont, opens up to his vulnerabilities that have made his educational journey arduous as a young student with ADHD, depression, and Executive Dysfunction. This episode will give you an insight into Trevor’s process of reconciling with the fact that his talents and smarts were clogged in the funnel self-demonstration by his inabilities and weaknesses. And yet he has prevailed!

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Episode 20: To Pop or Not to Pop

Episode 20: To Pop or Not to Pop

To pop or not to pop the bubble. This is the kindergartener’s dilemma. Jung-ah Choi writes that during a parent-teacher conference she discovered that her son was misbehaving in his kindergartener class. Upon further inquiry it turned out that her son was having a hard time complying with the class rule about not invading other people’s personal space. The teacher called it the “do-not-pop-the-bubble” policy. Choi’s son did not know how best to achieve the balance of engaging his classmates playfully without grabbing onto their hands or pulling them closer. A teacher expects her students to cooperate in the class, meet the policy expectations, and those who can’t or don’t know how to ‘not-pop-the-bubble’ often get in trouble. When such trouble escalates, it leads to suspension or even expulsion. Today, my guest, Clancy Blair, Ph.D. will talk about ways to promote fundamental abilities, which helps children meet the classroom expectation of HOW to regulate yourself.

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Episode 19: Shock Absorbers in the Brain

Episode 19: Shock Absorbers in the Brain

At age 6, his mother said to him, “Why don’t you just kill yourself? You’re such a burden to me.” At age 9, his mother drove him away from home to the unfamiliar part of Baja, California and walked him into an orphanage saying that she found this orphan kid and left him there for 90 days before his grandmother got a hold of him and brought him back. Throughout his elementary school she beat him senselessly. This is a story of a gangster, Sergio, from the roughest neighborhood of LA as told by father Greg Boyle in his book, Barking to the Choir. This gut wrenching and sad story traces the roots of a young man turning to the streets to escape his misery. Children who grow up in poverty, unstable homes, and highly unpredictable circumstances experience chronic and unabating stress, which takes a toll on the very shock-absorbing system in the brain, the Executive Function. Today, my guest, Clancy Blair, Ph.D., will discuss the distinction between acute and short lasting stress that buffs the adaptive and resiliency skills and chronic stress which dismantles it.

* This is Professor Blair’s first podcast where he discusses the what of Executive Function.

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Episode 18: Diamond Dust & Self-Regulation

Episode 18: Diamond Dust & Self-Regulation

In 1885, William Bentley placed a snowflake under his camera lens and took a first-of-its-kind photo only to then spend the next 50 years of his life capturing snowflakes with these incredible, vibrant designs. Apparently, the crystal of a snowflake starts as a tiny spec of dust or even pollen that attracts water vapor to form a preliminary hexagon called “diamond dust.” After that, it’s sheer randomness how all the rest of the shape expands to form a beautiful and yet unique structure. The scientists know that factors such as temperature and humidity have some influence, but they are not completely certain as to why each snowflake is unique.

We can apply the scientific truth behind the statement, “no two snowflakes are alike,” to the human brain as no two brains are alike. At this point, we are not certain what makes each child’s brain unique and how it influences the development of self-regulation. Today, our guest, Dr. Fred Morrison, will shed light on the fact that we do know that when our students become self-regulated learners we will have more engaged learners in the classroom, greater ease in navigating the classroom instructions, and direct ways of impacting students’ abilities to persist.

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Episode 17: Shoelaces to Self-Control

Episode 17: Shoelaces to Self-Control

The Google search for “how to teach a child to tie shoes” comes up with approximately 7.5 million hits. Obviously, parents and adults in general have recognized that folding over the shoelaces, crossing the bunny ears, and looping them to tie a knot needs to be taught with great care. However, you walk into any hallway in elementary, middle, or high school and two distinct trends appear. The shoes with laces are completely replaced with Velcro and many of those who ARE wearing shoes have their laces untied. Developing self-assessment to know when the shoelaces are untied and then engaging the impulse control to stop everything and tie the shoelaces to prevent a potential fall, is the hallmark of self-regulation. But a great deal of individual variability in learning self-control can pose a grave challenge to parents and teachers. Today, my guest Fred Morrison, Ph.D., will discuss how to think about self-regulation and Executive Function as a volitional self-directed control across the lifespan.

* This is Dr. Morris’ first Podcast where he discusses the what of Executive Function.

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