Monday, November 22, 2010

Neuroplasticity - CPS /SDT vs behaviorism

The standard treatment for ADHD kids and other challenging kids has been behavior modification programs. Based on behaviorist principles, one could modify behavior using extrinsic rewards, consequences and punishments. There has been a movement away from punishment and parents are recommended to use rewards - ' honey catches more flies than vinegar '.

There is growing evidence that the effects of behavior modification do not generalize to other areas or persist after the rewards are taken away.

Dan Pink , the author of the book ' Drive '  that deals with motivation shows that incentives and rewards narrow a person's vision and  thinking. When tasks involve some thinking and exploration , a wider perpective and focus , rewards get in the way and narrow focus.

Self Determined theory researchers have shown that rewards undermine intrinsic motivation, and kids lose interest in the activity. In the short term, we may get compliance but there is unlikely to be any commitment to the values taught.

CPS – collaborative problem solving approach sees behavior challenges as not a behavioral problem or a motivational problem but the kid is lacking various cognitive skills , in other words he lacks ' competence '. This is due to a developmental delay in the brain affecting many cognitive skills.

The standard treatment of medication and behavior modification is not a cure for ADHD and other challenges. CPS on the other hand promotes lacking skills.

But that is not everything – CPS produces changes in the brain.

'Neuroscience has changed considerably in the past 20 years. An example of change over period is the concept of brain plasticity. Brain plasticity refers to the brain's ability to rewire itself, relocating information processing functions to different brain areas and/or neural networks. Two decades ago, it was believed that brain networks were static after its initial formation period. Now that belief has changed. The study of brain plasticity has profound implications in human learning and behavior, and as such, for mental health.'

In his book – To cure ADHD
 Dr Gimpel recommends BET - Brain exercise therapy and CPS not only as Dr Greene says to help promote lacking skills , but CPS makes actual positive physical changes in the brain.

The way we parent can impact on our kids' physical brains as well. If we parent unconditionally , support their autonomy = their perceptions that their actions are self directed and connected to their inner core and not reactions or resistance to parental authority , competence , good relationships and solve problems in a collaborative way we promote growth in the brain. If our parenting is conditional and contingent using rewards to get compliance we impact on kids' brains in a negative way.

From the Self Determined theory site ' Some of the most surprising insights to emerge from SDT research call into question the traditional use of incentives. For example, behavioral research has shown that extrinsic rewards, like money or grades, actually undermine a person's interest in voluntarily engaging in a task. In short, rewards can backfire.

Kou Murayama from the University of Munich, Germany explored the neurobiology underlying this counterintuitive finding at the conference. In a recent study, Murayama and his colleagues scanned the brains of participants before and after completing a timed task. One group of participants was promised a reward. A second group performed the task with no incentive, although afterward they were surprised with compensation.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the study showed that entirely different areas of the brain are activated by the same task depending on whether a person anticipates a payoff or not. When focused on a reward, the brain switches off those areas associated with voluntary or self-initiated activities. '


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