New pc program helps rocket-blasted kids concentrate

SharperBrain, developed in Toronto, will be used to help school children in Sderot.

HP laptop computer 298.8 (photo credit: Courtesy)
HP laptop computer 298.8
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A computer program called SharperBrain developed in Toronto will be used to help school children in the rocket-blasted Negev town of Sderot concentrate on their studies. The Keshev Attention, Concentration and Memory Company (, which markets it, says that unlike fear - which is focused on something clear and defined - anxiety results from a poorly defined cause. Dr. Yigal Glicksman, a cognitive behavioral psychotherapist, says that after the immediate danger of Kassam rockets from Gazan terrorists, the involuntary nervous system should relax and return to its baseline. But as Sderot residents are chronically exposed to danger and anxiety, the nervous system is constantly stressed, which can result in unpredictable physiological and emotional symptoms. One such symptom is physical and mental disquiet, which causes concentration problems. Glicksman says the children - and adults - of Sderot need to learn to help themselves beyond the psychological help and medications they may be getting. SharperBrain, he said, has already been installed in the Amit elementary school in town. It was developed by a Canadian company called the ACE Toronto Clinic. It is in use in 60 clinics and schools around Israel, and has been shown to help children suffering from attention deficits. A Jerusalem neuropsychologist commented that the company should ensure that there are enough computers, programs and replacement parts to ensure that the program will be ongoing, and that teachers should be trained to work with the children. If teachers are able to buy or lease the software to use in their own classes, and community centers are voluntarily supported by hi-tech companies that send staff there on a regular bais, Sderot children and adults will understand that computer education is important. She added that long-term exposure to the stress and anxiety rampant in Sderot could be passed on from one generation to another, creating children who grow up with the same problems even after the attacks are halted. GET SHUTEYE BEFORE TESTS With end-of-semester finals coming for high school, college and some university students (those not affected by the lecturers' strike), a realistic question is whether studying all night will improve performance. The answer is no. Psychology Prof. Pamela Thacher at St. Lawrence University in New York studied the sleeping patterns and transcripts of 111 students to see the correlation between sleep and their grade-point averages. "You can't do your best work when you're sleep-deprived," Thacher says. Two-thirds of the students reported that they had pulled at least one all-nighter during a semester, and those who did it regularly had lower grades. Short-term side effects of sleep deprivation include delayed reactions and tendencies to make mistakes. Thacher presented the results of her study during the recent annual conference of the US National Sleep Society, and it has just been published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine. The study also examined whether students who pulled all-nighters did so due to procrastination. Thacher says that wasn't the case for most students. The data indicate that procrastination is not associated with all-nighters, although both practices significantly correlated with lower grades, she says. Many students believe it's a "rite of passage" to stay up all night during college, and that "it's kind of fun," Thacher added, but "pulling all-nighters compromises your sleep overall" and makes it difficult to reach full academic potential. In general, Thacher says, college students' sleep is inadequate, irregular and of poor quality, and all result in worsened academic performance. Over-use and availability of caffeinated beverages, the presence on campuses of all-night study areas and poor time management all contribute to sleep deprivation, she adds.