While brain fitness and training on sites like Lumosity.com have become hugely popular, physical activity isn’t part of that training. For school children and PE teachers across the country, new technology is emerging that combines both.
Researchers have known for years that physical activity is good for the brain. Numerous recent studies of school children across the US have shown that fitter kids perform better in school, improving academic as well as behavioral performance.
Science also tells us there’s much more to it than that. “Neurons that fire together wire together,” the axiom coined by neuropsychiatrist Donald Hebb and confirmed by Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel, described what has become known as neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to rewire itself in response to sensory experiences. Researchers have discovered that physical activity that actively engages the full body and multiple senses simultaneously – vision, hearing, touch, balance, and proprioception (the ability to sense where your body is in space) – requires more complex cognitive function, thus integrating brain fitness with body fitness.
New interactive technology is proving particularly effective at this, stimulating visual, auditory and tactile senses while engaging PE and Adapted PE classes in a range of physical activities that also challenge balance and spacial awareness. Some of the newest technology even uses interactive targets with letters, numbers and symbols to engage kids in action based learning of math and language skills while doing all of the above – great for teachers looking to integrate Common Core into their curriculum.
There’s one another less scientific but significant benefit to this new technology – it’s fun and motivating. Kids are engaged by the computer game-based scores and instant feedback, and teachers and administrators benefit from the ability to track results.
This new interactive technology will be on display this week at the national AAHPERD trade show in St. Louis this week. AAHPERD, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, soon to become SHAPE America – the Society for Health and Physical Education – is the leading trade organization representing PE teachers in the US. Technology to look for includes Multisensory Fitness’ SMART (Sensory Motor Activity Reaction Training) interactive target systems, Makoto Neuroplastic Technology’s Makoto Arena, and Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution Classroom Edition.