What is it?
BrainBeat is a cognitive training program that aims to improve children’s focus through a practice known as “neurotiming.” It’s based on the principles behind Interactive Metronome, a similar neurotherapy program used by more than 20,000 practitioners across the country. Rather than being used at a doctor’s office, however, BrainBeat is designed for home use.
How does BrainBeat work?
Using the provided headset and hand gear, children follow a computer program and, moving their hands in a large circular motion, try to “clap along” to a fixed beat — bringing their hands together at exactly the right time. Kids are guided by the computerized Nigel, who instructs and encourages them as they progress through the 14 “worlds,” or levels, of the game. Each level is designed to take 20 minutes to complete.
Scores are measured in “millibeats” — the lower the millibeats, the closer the child is to clapping along perfectly. According to BrainBeat’s claims, improved neurotiming will result in strengthened neural pathways that connect the “decision-making” part of the brain (the prefrontal lobe) with the visual and auditory part of the brain (the parietal lobe). This results, in theory, in improved concentration.
The training data is accessible through the cloud and the program features an email coaching series for caregivers to understand how their child is progressing. To avoid burnout, parents are encouraged to limit training sessions to two or three a week. Once the 14 levels are completed, children can return to the game as often as they like for periodic “maintenance sessions.”
Who is BrainBeat for?
BrainBeat is designed for children between the ages of 6 and 12 — but it can be useful for children of any age, the company claims.
How much does it cost?
The full BrainBeat kit, including headset and hand gear, costs $599. It can be used by up to 5 children.
What studies have been done on BrainBeat?
The principle behind both Interactive Metronome and BrainBeat — neurotiming — has been studied for more than 10 years. Most of the results have been positive: a 2011 study, focusing on 54 students in grades 2 through 8, found that, after training with BrainBeat for 20 sessions, participants’ reading and math skills improved by an average of 20 percent. Common ADHD trouble spots like attention levels, listening ability, and emotional control improved, too — by an average of 30 percent.
Another study, from 2012, compared traditional reading intervention methods with an interactive metronome program similar to BrainBeat. Results indicated that children who practiced with the metronome program — in addition to the traditional reading intervention methods — had greater gains in reading skills than the children who used traditional methods alone. Studies on neurotiming going back to at least 1999 have provided similar results.
Where can I learn more?
Visit the manufacturer’s website at brainbeat.com.