The following article is adapted from recent postings on The Dangerous Child
On “Videogames” That Help Dangerous Children become more Dangerous
Adam Gazzaley’s (MD, PhD) talk on optimising the human mind using advanced tools of cognitive neuroscience begins at about 6:10 in the video above.
Dr. Adam Gazzaley’s lab at UCSF designs video games that are based upon real-time neurofeedback. The player’s brain reacts instantly to events in the game — and the game reacts to what is happening in the brain. Gazzaley describes this videogame neurofeedback learning process as a “closed loop system” (see image below).
Much of the experimentation with these neurofeedback videogames has focused on combat-oriented training, being funded by the US Pentagon. But a moment’s reflection suggests that this “closed loop neurofeedback videogame” approach to brain training could be readily applied — with appropriate adaptation — to humans at almost any age, for multiple purposes of enhanced development, enhanced performance, rehabilitation after injury or disease, or for mitigation of the effects of ageing and neurodegeneration.
Gazzaley’s published efforts are so far still quite primitive, but the possibilities for the future are impressive on many fronts.
Modern societies have grown stagnant and corrupted by a widespread philosophy of rent-seeking, of minimising risk for the sake of long-term security. “Playing it safe” through a politically correct “safety in numbers” is the opposite of what we at the Dangerous Child Institutes train and teach. We train contrarian thinkers to develop a broad range of skills and competencies which build self-confidence. This self-confidence fuels innovative thinking and risk taking — which are what drives societies to be great.
We are on record as opposing passive popular entertainments for children such as mainstream television and cinema. The developing mind has enough to do without being stuffed full of the low-quality nonsense that movie and television producers crank out for popular consumption.
We are also not enthusiastic about most popular video games and the modern obsession with electronic social media, which takes away from time that would be better spent developing competence in movement, music, language, pattern, and practical skills of all kinds. Electronic gadgets also tend to alienate children from their immediate environments, which can be a deadly failing in many situations.
But real-time EEG and MRI neurofeedback — particularly when combined with sophisticated virtual reality — are different, and hold the potential for enhancing brain function for general learning and for perfecting specific types of tasks.
The brains of children are naturally attracted to play and games of all kinds. The danger that the child will become lost in some types of game-playing is quite real, in the modern age of abusive commercial and ideological child baiting in movies, TV, and videogames. But if game-playing is used to drive learning and competence-building, the natural child’s drive to play can be used to motivate him to build parts of his brain that can bootstrap later learning which might have otherwise been very difficult to achieve.
Again, even videogames that are used in training skills and competencies should be used sparingly, so as not to create barriers between the child and the real world around him. The competence and confidence for working within the real world is what Dangerous Child training is meant to build.
Teachers, parents, mentors, and coaches cannot ignore developments in advanced applied cognitive neuroscience. Every child runs up against barriers to some subject area of learning or another. Clever and timely use of closed-loop videogame training can help move a child from one learning plateau to a higher plateau — enabling a new and higher world of competence on the road to mastery.
Sentic Cycles and Risk-Taking
Risk-Taking is at the Core of Any Effective Life
Life is inherently unpredictable. We must constantly act in the face of imperfect information, which means that we are always at risk of betting wrong — and failing. This is simply the nature of the universe, and the human condition. It is a reality that courageous humans learn to face head-on — but which cowardly rent-seekers attempt to evade by using the coercion of governments, gangs, and mobs.
Dangerous Children are best prepared to take advantage of new freedoms and opportunities that are likely to open up after numerous bureaucratic swamps are drained and overplentiful nests of corrupt cronies of the left are fumigated. While the debris is still being cleared away, Dangerous Children will begin to utilise their risk-taking skills to help open a more abundant and expansive human future. To help them do this, their training includes a broad range of competence building practises — most of which prepare the child for later risk-taking ventures.
Normal risk-taking ranges from the financial to the existential, and can be excessively stressful unless a child is prepared so as to carry a core of stability within himself. The development of such inner competencies are an essential part of Dangerous Child training.
Emotional Balance and the Sentic Cycles
Normal human emotions range across a broad and deep spectrum, and are experienced automatically in response to both internal and external events. These emotions can be pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant. In the Dangerous Child Method for training risk-takers, none of these normal emotions are denied or blocked. Instead, they are recognised and incorporated into everyday experience.
One of the most useful methods for utilising the broad range of emotions is called “Sentic Cycles,” developed by Dr. Manfred Clynes — a musician and neuroscientist. The Sentic Cycles are integrated into emotional exercises which persons regularly perform on their own, in order to better integrate and calibrate their emotions into their daily lives. More:
Sentic Cycles lets you generate and express your emotions in a series, as a spectrum, your emotion ‘symphony’, so you tend to become free from emotional rut – being stuck in one emotion
– and be in touch with your real self – not overwhelmed by single emotion (yet able to savour them all as in music).
It takes only 10 minutes to learn to do it – and then you may benefit from doing it anytime the rest of your life – as long as human nature does not change! Anyone can do it.
… We all tend to be prisoners of emotion more than we may wish to be. Emotions make life enjoyable and meaningful, but not if you are in an emotional rut, where a particular, most often negative, emotion takes over, and makes it hard to get out of, even temporarily. Often such negative emotions are suppressed, but still interfere with function and freedom of experience.
Sentic Cycles allow you to experience and express all such emotions more constructively, without being overwhelmed by them. Like music, like an artistic experience, the emotion becomes an example of your own humanity: it allows you to savour that emotion as one that is shared by humanity. At the end of the Sentic Cycle you may feel a sense of belonging, a sense of being glad to be alive.
It takes about 25 minutes to go through the entire cycle, if done according to the standard procedure developed by Dr. Clynes. As described on the website above, the Sentic Cycles are immensely useful for virtually everyone.
What is not always readily apprehended however, is that the cycles can be adapted for specific uses that are customised for each individual. This adaptibility to the individual is immensely useful for Dangerous Child training, since no two children are exactly alike, and no two trainings are precisely the same.
Here is an intriguing comment from Don O’Brien, a former trainer of Sentic Cycles, referring to the use of Sentic Cycles to treat addictions:
What causes any psychological addiction is unimportant. Perform Sentic Cycles at least five times. During the Hate phase hate every aspect about whatever addiction you want to stop. You will soon no longer have the urges, and will actually notice the absence of urges. As you continue to do cycles regularly, your mixed up emotions, often caused by lying to yourself, will sort themselves out very soon, too.
I worked for Manfred Clynes in Sydney in the eighties, and over the decades have taught dozens how to cure their own addiction quickly…without a relapse. While performing sentic cycles, you become your own best therapist, because you cannot lie to yourself comfortably while doing one.
Here are the eight basic phases of the Sentic Cycles:
- No emotion
- Sexual Desire
Each phase is experienced on its own, in its own particular way. The phases are placed in their specific order for a purpose, which is better understood after one has practised the cycles over a period of weeks or longer.
By calibrating and integrating these human emotions into a Dangerous Child’s everyday experience, he learns how to utilise them in the course of performing essential tasks — including risk-taking activities which might otherwise prove overwhelming for most untrained children.
The Dangerous Child Method integrates a few more emotions than the basic list above — depending upon the child — but maintains the basic order of experience, which has proven extremely useful. As mentioned in Don O’Brien’s comment, each phase can be modified to achieve specific goals within that particular emotion’s domain.
Entrepreneurs are Universal Risk Takers
All Dangerous Children are trained in the entrepreneurial skills. Entrepreneurship is best considered as a behaviour: “judgmental decision making under uncertainty.” (Source Peter Klein Chapt 9)
Since virtually all decision-making is necessarily done under conditions of some uncertainty, virtually the whole of meaningful life involves entrepreneurial risk, with some emotional overtones. And thus the importance of training Dangerous Children in the experience of the wide range of emotions at a very young age — to insert a core of emotional stability within the Child’s heart, well before it would generally be considered necessary by conventional child psychologists or early childhood educators.
For children before the onset of puberty, the “sexual desire” emotion is replaced by a “physical excitement” emotion such as what is experienced on a roller coaster, a zip line, an elevated rope swing, etc. This substitution reflects the malleable nature of the sentic cycles, which allows them to be customised to suit particular needs and goals.