Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 64 - October 2010 - by Phil Chambers


TIME TO READ: 9.5 minutes (Average Reader), less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 2,270. To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us.

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Welcome to the October 2010 issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter. Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This issue, we have an article on new research into ADHD, results of the Swedish Open Memory Championships plus our regular features of Mind Map Tip, quote of the month and what I’ve been up to recently..

October's Quote of the Month

"That is my major preoccupation, memory, the kingdom of memory. I want to protect and enrich that kingdom, glorify that kingdom and serve it."

~ Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner

More quotes here


What's Phil Up To?

Phil's Photo

I was at the Second Swedish Open Memory Championships last weekend. More details below.

I will be running Mind Mapping and Speed Reading workshops in Cardiff on 11th and 13th October.

I’m also suffering from a cold, dosed up with plenty of lemsip and vitamin C!

At the end of the month I'll be off to Inda to oversee another National memory competition. See next month's Newsletter for a full report.


Mind Map Tip of the Month

Draw your main branches such that they start wide and taper to a point as you move away from the centre. Starting wide indicates the greater importance of the main branches but you always need a point to branch off from with your connected ideas. The tapering also leads your eye out from the centre.


Report on The Swedish Open Memory Championships 2010

Simon Glass Box Arbiters Ben Pridmore
Simon Reinhard


The Glass Box


Some of the excellent arbiters' team
Ben Pridmore

Göteborg was the setting, once again, for the Swedish Open Memory Championships, now in its second year. As last year, the event was timed to coincide with the Göteborg Book Fair. This is the biggest meeting place for the book trade in the Nordic countries and attracts great media attention from Sweden and Beyond. The first Fair was held in 1985 and had 5,000 visitors. Since then, it has grown year after year and in 2008 no fewer than 101,000 visits were registered during the four days.

Unlike last year, the tournament was actually held within the Book Fair exhibition hall. Near silence was provided by conducting the event in a giant glass box specially designed for the event.

Whist no World Records were set, there was no shortage of excitement with a great battle between World Number One Ben Pridmore from England and World Number Three Simon Reinhard from Germany. Simon won the fist event, “Random Words” with Ben in third place. However, in the second event, “Binary”, one of Ben’s strengths, he put in a good enough performance to move up to second overall ahead of Boris Konrad. Ben did badly in his traditionally worst discipline, “Names and Faces” giving Simon a slight lead. You would expect Ben to win back points in the “10 minute cards” discipline. As the reigning world record holder in this event with 7 decks of cards, Ben tried for 8 decks. As we marked his cards it become apparent that he had overstretched himself and ended up with only one deck correct. Simon on the other hand had 5 decks perfect. This put Ben behind by 1,183 points at then end of the first day. After this he never recovered much going into the final event with a deficit of 1,005 points. Ben could still win if he could pull off a sub-30 second time in the Speed Cards and if Simon made mistakes. Both made valiant attempts at fast times but each made mistakes in both trials leaving Simon victorious.

Ben wrote on his blog, “Anyway, suffice to say that I was hopeless all throughout the competition, much as I'd expected. And Simon Reinhard was entirely non-hopeless, so he beat me hands down.”

Ben now has to put in some serious practice if he is to retain his title at the World Championships in China in December.

Special congratulations got to Mittias Ribbing who retained his title of Swedish National Champion breaking a number of Swedish records in the process. Also noteworthy was Swedish new-comer Florian Minges who achieved the fastest time in the Speed Cards of 1 minute19.2 seconds, a new Swedish record.

The final results were:

Swedish Open Memory Championships 2010 Final Results


5-min words 5-min binary 5-min names 15-min number 10-min cards Speed Number Images Historic Dates Spoken Number Speed Cards Overall Points


Simon Reinhard 950 720 690 825 780 683 836 825 700 33 7041


Ben Pridmore 620 835 320 851 156 960 776 957 528 27 6031


Boris Konrad 780 486 550 550 348 544 920 649 618 38 5484


Mattias Ribbing 480 384 320 400 330 427 500 297 396 307 3841


Christopher Beeg 360 105 310 250 156 309 444 396 313 160 2804


Florian Minges 290 121 140 200 156 128 320 198 396 379 2328


Daniel Andersson 100 273 220 265 264 141 280 253 242 35 2073


David Martinez-Lundström 60 0 150 0 0 152 356 231 262 12 1222


Achilleas Katsaros 200 90 230 100 0 107 156 165 157 15 1220


Nicolai Lassen 0 45 110 100 234 107 100 77 157 63 993


Simon Gustafsson 200 35 280 0 0 48 56 132 185 42 979


Danny Wennberg 190 12 140 100 0 8 120 99 198 31 898


Lena Gothberg 10 0 70 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 80


Neuroscience News - ADHD

Researchers at Cardiff University have determined a possible genetic link with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. Researchers analysed stretches of DNA from 366 children who had been diagnosed with the disorder compared with genetic samples from 1,047 people without the condition.

They found that 15% of the ADHD group had large and rare variations in their DNA - compared with 7% in the control group. Professor Anita Thapar said: "We found that, compared with the control group, the children with ADHD have a much higher rate of chunks of DNA that are either duplicated or missing.”

"This is really exciting - because it gives us the first direct genetic link to ADHD.”

"We have looked at lots of potential risk factors in the environment - such as parenting or what happens before birth - but there isn't the evidence to say they're linked to ADHD.”

Read the full story reported by BBC News here.

ADHD is often treated with drugs such as Ritalin (Methylphenidate). However, there is a lack of evidence of the effectiveness in the long term of beneficial effects of Ritalin with regard to learning and academic performance. There is controversy about the widespread prescription of such drugs and the long term effects on the developing brain are unknown.

Tony Buzan, in his book ‘Brain Child’ has the following to say on the subject:

“The debate continues as to whether the syndrome is a medically definable illness, whether it is a dangerous generalized diagnosis made by ignorant doctors, whether teachers are labelling children ADHD to conceal their own inability to maintain the child's interest, and whether Ritalin is a miracle drug or one that is normalizing, numbing and drugging active and creative children into a conformist stupor. Whatever conclusion you arrive at, bear in mind that the symptoms for ADHD are subjective, meaning that it depends on the values and views of the person doing the assessment and on your own values and views as a parent as well. If the assessor (and/or you) takes the view that children should, for example, be able to sit still in a classroom and listen for long periods of time, then the child is far more likely to be labelled ADHD. But if the assessor (and/or you) believes that children should be able to behave like children do - moving about a great deal and talking - then the diagnosis is less likely to be made. However, whether the child's behaviour meets some of the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis or not, if his behaviour interferes with life either at home or at school, then the child needs help of some sort and drug therapy may not necessarily be the solution.

To help you draw your own conclusions, the following information may prove useful.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), is defined, by the American Psychiatric Association and others, as a classifiable illness if an individual meets eight or more of the following criteria:

1. Cannot remain seated if required to do so.
2. Is easily distracted by external stimuli.
3. Experiences difficulty focusing on a single task or play activity.
4. Frequently begins another activity without completing the first (it is interesting to note that Leonardo da Vinci, normally regarded as the greatest genius of all time, and ranked number one in Buzan's Book of Genius, was consistently accused of this!).
5. Fidgets or squirms (or feels restless mentally).
6. Can't (or doesn't want to) wait for his turn during group activities.
7. Will often interrupt with an answer before a question is completed.
8. Has problems with chores or following through on a job.
9. Likes to make noises while playing.
10. Interrupts others inappropriately.
11. Talks impulsively or excessively.
12. Doesn't seem to listen when spoken to by a teacher.
13. Impulsively jumps into physically dangerous activities.
14. Regularly loses things (pencils, tools, papers) necessary to complete school work projects.

These forms of behaviour must have commenced before the age of seven, and must occur more frequently than in the average person of the same age.

This means that at least half the population will, by definition, exhibit these forms of behaviour more frequently than the average. Are they all therefore suffering from an illness?

Two classic cases are worth bearing in mind.

As a young girl in kindergarten, Mary-Lou Retton was so super-active that her parents were advised by the school teachers to put her on a course of drugs that would dramatically reduce her physical activity. Fortunately her parents were of a different opinion, and requested that the school find ways of using her extraordinary energy more appropriately.

Thirteen years later, Mary-Lou Retton, internationally renowned for her boundless energy and enthusiasm, easily won the gold medal in women's gymnastics at the Los Angeles Olympics.

A few years before Mary-Lou Retton experienced her difficulties in her early school years, a little boy by the name of Daley was experiencing the same problems in England. Similarly, his parents were encouraged to put him on a course of tranquillizing drugs. Like Mary-Lou's parents, Daley's insisted that he be given exercises and activities that would absorb his ebullience. Little Daley proved virtually indefatigable, wearing out every physical education teacher available.

It all paid off wonderfully well when Daley Thompson became the World and Olympic Decathlon Champion and stayed at the peak of his sport, shattering all previous world records consistently, for ten years.

Thom Hartman, in his excellent book Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception, is firmly of the opinion that the labels are often wildly inappropriate. Hartman claims that schools are set up for what he terms 'the farmers' - those who will sit at a desk, watch and listen attentively to the teacher, and always do what they are told. This is the ultimate torture for those he labels the 'hunters', who are physically active; always scanning their environment; creative; impulsive; and always looking, like Leonardo da Vinci, for the next exciting event. Those 'hunters' are not ADHD: they are energetic! All learning difficulties can be dealt with and the situation improved. In most cases the problems can be completely overcome.


Jim's story shows the devastating effect that incorrect labelling can have on a young child. From a very early age in his childhood, which had been spent in the southern United States. Jim had been diagnosed as 'severely learning disabled', had been publicly so labelled, and as a result had been ridiculed and ostracized. By the time he was 17, he had entered into what appeared to be a terminal depression, refusing to leave his bed for more than two or three hours a day, a behaviour which confirmed for many of those around him his label.

Jim was diagnosed by Vanda North as simply dyslexic and probably very bright. She and myself taught him basic information about the brain, and especially about how to memorize. Jim's imagination (as you might imagine!) from all those years of isolation was gigantic. He lapped up memory techniques, and was very soon easily able to remember 100 random items, in perfect order, in less than an hour.

Inspired by his sudden accomplishments and the self-realization of his quite extraordinary abilities, Jim 'came to life', became almost hyperactive, extremely physically fit, and reversed his behaviour, sometimes having to be forced to go to bed!

In a meeting one day, when Jim was publicly talking about his 'disability' and his transformation, he suddenly exclaimed, exultantly:

He was right."


That’s it for this month. Look out for the next newsletter at the beginning of November and feel free to be in touch in the meantime.

My contact details are here.

Best Wishes