Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Part 4 To Learn or Not to Learn - Poor Integration

TO LEARN OR NOT TO LEARN - Poor Integration of Gestalt and Logic Functions
By Dr. Charles T Krebs

Part 4 continued

The least common pattern of learning difficulty are people who have good access to both Gestalt and Logic functions, but they can only “integrate” these functions poorly if at all. This lack of integration of Gestalt and Logic functions often limits the use of the functions that they can access giving them learning dysfunctions similar to people having poor access to one or the other hemispheres. The most common behavioral symptoms are:

Poor Integration of Gestalt and Logic Functions:
* reading very difficult: Often so stressful to read that it can only be done for a few minutes
at a time, or is avoided altogether.
* spelling is totally phonetic: words spelled like they sound.
* difficulty with higher mathematics (e.g. algebra) even though arithmetic may have been

For these people, school is often an extremely frustrating experience. They can often perform well all tasks except those
requiring good integrated function. Since integration of Gestalt and Logic functions are required for reading and spelling, but integrated functions are very stressful for these people to perform, these essential academic tasks may often be avoided.

The True Nature of Specific Learning Difficulties:

The philosophy at The Life Enrichment Center is that all learning difficulties result from the degree of access each person has to specific brain functions and how well these functions can be integrated. If a person can access all brain functions in both cerebral hemispheres with equal facility and can integrate all these functions, he performs well in all areas of learning. However, if for any reason he cannot access certain specific brain functions, he will have difficulty performing tasks dependent upon or involving those specific brain functions.

Indeed, standard psychological testing to evaluate specific learning problems rely on determining which types of cerebral
functions and processes can be accessed, and how well these functions are accessed. Standardized intelligence tests such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale Test are a carefully devised series of tasks which are divided into two groups: Verbal sub-testsand Performance sub-tests. The Verbal sub-tests are tasks which require access to predominantly Logic functions. Some of the Verbal sub-tests require access to only a few Logic functions, while others require access to both Logic and Gestalt functions at the same time, but with the “lead” functions contributed by the Logic brain. Likewise, some of the Performance sub-tests are tasks which require access to only Gestalt functions, while others require integrated functions with a Gestalt “lead.”

The score on each sub-test depends upon how well a person can access the specific functions required to perform that
sub-test. Sub-tests that a person scores poorly on indicate which types of functions he has difficulty accessing. Difficulty
accessing specific functions has been correlated with poor performance in certain academic areas.

Behavioral Aspects of Limited Access to Cerebral Functions and/or Poor Integration of these Functions & the Stress-
Avoidance Cycle:

An appreciation of some of the behaviors associated with learning difficulties may be useful at this point. How do peopleʼs behavior reflect their underlying ability to participate in this natural process of learning? In our clinical practice we are told about and see the same types of behaviors from people (especially children) who come to us for treatment of specific learning difficulties. Again and again we see the same behaviors ticked on the Behavioral Evaluation Form filled out for each client when people have certain learning dysfunctions. Why might this be?

Lack of access to specific cerebral functions will almost always have a discernible behavioral corollary. The nature of the
functions accessed, or not accessed, determine to a large degree how a person behaves. A child that is Gestalt dominant will often be perceived as “emotionally immature” because emotional maturity is essentially the ability to modulate and control the expression of emotions based on a logical analysis of circumstances. A well integrated person with good access to all cerebral functions may “feel” angry (largely a Gestalt experience), but make the rational judgement that “now” is not the appropriate time to express that anger. A Gestalt dominant person, on the other hand, will experience the anger and tend to act on these feelings without logical consideration of the consequences.

It is our philosophy that peopleʼs behavior reflects the degree of access and integration of their cerebral functions. Poor access to, or integration of, specific brain functions will result in difficulty performing tasks dependent upon these brain functions. Difficulty performing these tasks will almost always generate “stress” when attempting to do these tasks, often resulting in “avoidance behaviors.” The extent of the “avoidance behaviors” usually relates to the degree of “stress” generated when attempting to access and integrate the relevant functions.

What is often not appreciated is that peopleʼs behavior tells the truth, if you understand what is being said! When a child says, “I hate Reading, Mathematics, English, or________(fill in the blank)”, what that person is actually saying is, “I cannot access the brain functions I need to do that task easily!” The only reason anyone “hates” doing anything that is enjoyable for most other people is that he finds that specific task difficult to perform. If a person can read well and easily, he doesnʼt avoid reading, but rather seeks it out because there is just so much to learn and enjoy in books. If, on the other hand, reading is a very demanding and stressful task, people soon develop avoidance mechanisms, for instance labeling reading as “boring.” Who wants to do something that is “BORING!”

Unfortunately, these avoidance behaviors are often misinterpreted as “just not doing what you are told” or “misbehavior” plain and simple. The response to these “avoidance behaviors” may be to tell the person to just stop misbehaving and “pick up your game!” This only compounds the “stress” of attempting to do these tasks, usually leading to further avoidance behaviors, and exaggerated misbehavior. Part of what exaggerates the misbehavior is simply the frustration and anger of NOT being able to perform the assigned task, even when great effort is expended. Imagine how you would feel if you have struggled through your reading, mathematics, English etc. assignments, putting in the best effort you are capable of, only to be told, “Well youʼre just going to have to try harder!”