Reducing Sensory Overload – Simply with Sound

Many people on the Autistic Spectrum (and quite a few that are not) are strongly affected by poor sensory processing. This is now widely accepted as a key component leading to autistic-type behaviour. Limited eye contact, attention and social skills, together with speech delay, repetitive behaviour and melt-downs can all be triggered by how the brain copes with all the sensory information that is flooding in every moment of the day.

Recognising that sensory processing may be one of the underlying causes, helps us to understand the inner world of someone on the spectrum. But what practical ways are there to help them cope better and progress in their development and essential life skills? I have been leading a team of passionate practitioners and researchers at Sensory Activation Solutions (SAS Centre) with exactly that aim: “To improve day-to-day functioning through easy to apply sensory training – simply with sound”.

The science and neuro-acoustic technology underpinning the SAS methodology are advanced and complex, but applying the method with clients is simplicity itself. It does not require attention, following instructions or physical exercises and even works while asleep. Within a short space of time the brain can establish new, more effective and permanent processing habits through the safe application of sound.

We use specially created sounds applied through headphones to activate individual processing centres in the brain with the aim to improve communication between the two sides of the brain, strengthen hemispheric specialisation and promote more effective sensory filtering. Mostly clients listen for one hour each day over 20 to 28 days to an individually tailored protocol of programmes with modified classical music, tones and speech. The speech and language elements are currently available in English, Dutch, German, French, Polish, Swedish, Turkish and Arabic.

These fully personalised SAS courses are an ideal tool for many professionals who are looking for an effective, practical and affordable intervention to apply in their practice. Health and educational professionals with experience in the field only require to complete a one-day Introduction Training in order to start implementing SAS courses with their clients. After completing a number of courses with clients, our Follow-on Training will deepen your knowledge and understanding. Bookings are now open for our very affordable Introduction Training courses.

Intrigued? Learn more about our work by meeting me at one of the upcoming U.K. Autism Shows in London (ExCel, 16-17 June 2017), Birmingham (NEC, 23-24 June 2017) and Manchester (EventCity, 30 June-1 July), contact us on +44 20 3239 4880 or, or visit our website at I would love to hear from you.

Parent Support Recognition: A2ndVoice

The U.K. SAS Centre has been working hand in hand with Venessa Bobb for the last five years, offering online parent support plus workshops, personal coaching and yoga sessions in London. Venessa’s dedication to her own autistic son and to the cause of helping other parents has been inspirational for all of us at SAS.

This year we partner with Venessa’s A2ndVoice charity and with Mark Brown’s Special Help 4 Special Needs to reach even more parents at The Autism Show in London (12 + 13 June – ExCeL London) and with Sparkle Sheffield at The Autism Show in Manchester (26 + 27 June – EventCity Manchester).

Venessa Bobb’s A2ndVoice breakthrough work has been recognised by Achieve’s National Community Inspiration Award for Disabled Children. Full deserved and well done Venessa !

Achieve March 2015 Spread 1

Achieve March 2015 Spread 2

Achieve March 2015 Spread 3

To be, or not to be – a plea for less action

I write this post on New Year’s Day 2015 and like so many I also make my new year’s resolutions on this day. They are the usual suspects, eat less, take more exercise, be kind to the cat, etc. Then there are also a whole host of things I should do this year, all those things I put off last year and the year before. All good stuff, but another thought also goes through my mind. Should I, perhaps, do less and be more?

A few month’s ago I sat on a busy tube in London, just observing people. The majority was, of course, interacting with some form of screen. A few ‘oldies’ were reading an old fashioned book. One or two had dozed away. The young lady opposite me was first scrolling on her mobile but then put it away. Now there were two people doing nothing in the carriage. But this lasted no longer than about 20 seconds as she clearly felt uncomfortable doing nothing. So out came the mobile again.

It’s easy to get caught up in constantly having to do something. We make ‘to do’ lists and fill every day with activities. We do it for ourselves and I see so many parents that also organise this for their children. School is just part of the daily activities. Then there are all those after school clubs, sport activities, music lessons, homework .. each day filled to the brim doing things.

Just being seems to be a lost art. Just being with ourselves, with our thoughts, doing nothing, can feel scary. Just being with another person, not talking or doing something, is possibly even more scarier. So we start talking, just to break the silence or start doing something to fill the empty space.

The importance of ‘just being’ has come into sharp focus for me when working with non-verbal children. I observed that sometimes life around these children is full of speech – by the parents, teachers, carers – giving instructions, demanding attention, directing the child. Then these children are kept busy all the time, having to play or to complete school tasks. Their lives can be busy, very busy indeed. This is, of course, not always the case, but when I observe children that are kept so busy doing things, I sometimes wonder how it is for the child. I can, of course, only guess.

empty roomFor some of these children I have created ‘being time’. Just being together, with me, one of our staff members at a SAS Centre, or with a parent. Being together in a plain room without any furniture, with no pictures on the wall, no toys to distract. Just two people sitting together on plain cushions on the floor, with no visual or sound distraction. Doing nothing. Saying nothing. For a long time, often at least one hour each day, day in day out..

Many of these children exhibit poor eye contact. So there we are with nothing to do, nothing to say and not even looking at each other. Well, not quite. What I do during these sessions is to empty my mind of all those ‘to do’ things that tend pop up in my brain and focus fully on the child. Whenever there is a momentary glance by the child in my direction, I will be there, gently and lovingly looking at the child.

The effect can be remarkable. Many children improve their eye contact within weeks, become more interactive, start to negotiate non-verbally and overall become more content. I believe that these children need this ‘being time’ to give them time and space to connect to others. They need the experience of ‘being seen’ and accepted the way they are. All children, and for that matter all adults, will benefit from this ‘being time’. It’s truly magical.

So one of my resolutions for 2015 is to do all those things I put off until now, but also to actively create moments of nothing, time to be, either on my own or with someone I care for.

Steven Michaelis – New Year’s Day 2015.

Please feel free to leave comments or to contact me using the form below.

Taking a wider view to find practical solutions.

Many autistic people find it difficult to process sensory information.
It often defines how they feel, think and act.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability.

You have to learn to live with it.

What if, just for a moment, we ignore the Autism label and look at how most people process sensory information. Maybe, just maybe, that will provide us with useful clues that will help our children.

Cocktail Party SyndromeCocktail Party Syndrome: The inability to focus attention on a voice in a noisy environment. People with only one functioning ear seem much more distracted by interfering noise than people with two healthy ears.[1] By comparing the auditory information from the left ear (processed mainly in the right brain hemisphere) with that of the right ear (processed mainly in the left hemisphere), the brain is able to pay selective attention to what is important.

People on the autistic spectrum often have similar issues, finding it difficult to pay attention to what, from a neuro-typical perspective, is regarded as important. All sounds are often perceived to mingle together and may also be experienced as overly loud.

Try this in a supermarket, train station or other noisy environment: completely close one ear with a finger and try to follow a conversation. Almost everyone will find this very difficult. Maybe it’s similar to how some people on the autistic spectrum perceive the world all the time.

Improved auditory processing and, most importantly, better communication between the two sides of the brain, can reduce the effects of Cocktail Party Syndrome. This can be achieved through targeted auditory brain training.

Sensory OverloadSensory Overload: On a cold rainy day in mid winter, after many hours of battling disaster after disaster at school or work, being hungry, tired and unappreciated, most people will have a stooped posture, looking down to the floor, rapidly being annoyed by any interruption or unexpected noise. It’s quite ‘normal’. Thousands of others returning home also feel like that. Under these circumstances they all have a reduced capacity to process sensory information and are easily overloaded. A good meal, a warm bath or shower, some soothing music and a comfortable couch mostly does the trick to return to normality.

Many people with autism experience the world around them like that all the time, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. No wonder they have meltdowns, have ‘behavioural issues’ or are not very sociable.

We receive some 11 million bits of information through our five main senses, every second of our waking day. If we want it or not, our brain will have to deal with this avalanche of information. Unless we ignore almost all of this input, we will experience sensory overload. People on the autistic spectrum, and those diagnosed with so called Attention Deficit Disorder, often do not delete enough of this information and thus get easily distracted or overloaded.

How well we process sensory input from our eyes, ears, skin, nose and mouth is key to our ability to make sense of the world and interact with it. We can train our brain to be better at sensory processing in many ways, from learning to play a musical instrument to specific brain training programmes.

Limited Language: I speak a number of languages, but not the language of the country I currently live in, Turkish. I understand it a bit and can use about one hundred words at a push, but when I’m listening in to a conversation in Turkish, I really struggle. I understand some words, but by the time I’ve recognised the word and retrieved the meaning from memory, the conversation has moved on and I’m lost. For a few minutes I’ll try to concentrate on what’s being said, but then I rapidly give up and retreat into my own world, without Turkish language.

I learned to speak my Dutch mother tongue quite fluently within about two years, but I’m struggling with Turkish for many years already, so the speed of learning to speak a language does vary, even when allowing for my far more advanced age now.

When someone speaks very slowly and clearly Turkish to me and there are no other interruptions to distract me, then I cope much better and when given plenty of time to string a few words together, I may even respond appropriately. Please note that a quiet environment will reduce the demands on my sensory processing centres, thus allowing more brain power to be used for language processing.

This is maybe similar to how language is perceived to people with no or limited speech. With language coming in too fast, word recognition being too slow and people not allowing enough time for a response, giving up speaking altogether may be the best option. For non-verbals there are undoubtedly other processing issues at stake too, but this simple scenario may well form part of the complex issue of speech delay.

Having a child with language delay is of course a great worry for parents, and given the importance of speech there are remarkably few effective interventions to help children progress with acquiring speech.

Constraint-Induced Language TherapyA growing body of evidence shows that trying to process language in the less suited right hemisphere of the brain may be part of language disorders such as developmental dyslexia and speech delay in autism [2] [3]. The Constraint-Induced Language Therapy (C-ILT) I have developed as part of the SAS methodology builds on this theory. By activating the left hemisphere with speech, whilst constraining the right hemisphere by feeding it complex non-speech material often leads to marked improvements in reading and speech development.

From working with thousands of children with autism I know that change may not be that easy, but is always possible. I know that understanding their world better, enables us to find innovative ways to help them grow. I know that simple to apply programmes often form part of the practical solutions that we seek for our children. There clearly is no golden bullet as far as speech acquisition is concerned, but the easy to apply C-ILT method may just be the extra push that a child requires to accelerated speech development.

Just three examples of situations that many people may recognise from their own lives and that might mirror how people with autism experience the world. Ultimately we’re not that different after all!

[1] Hawley ML, Litovsky RY, Culling JF (February 2004). “The benefit of binaural hearing in a cocktail party: effect of location and type of interferer”. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 115 (2): 833–43. doi:10.1121/1.1639908. PMID 15000195.

[2] “The reversal of cerebral asymmetry that occurred in ten of the dyslexic patients may result in language lateralization to a cerebral hemisphere that is structurally less suited to support language function and thus act as a risk factor for the development of reading disability.” Developmental Dyslexia, Evidence for a Subgroup With a Reversal of Cerebral Asymmetry; Daniel B. Hier, MD, Marjorie LeMay, MD, Peter B. Rosenberger, MD, Vincent P. Perlo, MD; Arch Neurol. 1978;35(2):90-92. doi:10.1001/archneur.1978.00500260028005.

[3] “In 57% of the autistic patients the right parietooccipital region was wider than the left, while this pattern of cerebral asymmetry was found in only 23% of the mentally retarded (sic) patients and 25% of the neurological patients. It is suggested that unfavorable morphologic asymmetries of the brain near the posterior language zone may contribute to the difficulties autistic children experience in acquiring language.” Autism and unfavorable left-right asymmetries of the brain; Hier DB, LeMay M, Rosenberger PB; J Autism Dev Disord. 1979 Jun; 9(2):153-9.

The SAS Methodology and Retained Reflexes

by Steven Michaëlis, CEO Sensory Activation Solutions – International.

The science of how children develop and learn is surprisingly new given the fact we have been educating children for many millennia. It is only very recently that scientists have started to investigate what happens in the brain during child development and how children learn, either formally in school or in everyday life. Most education is still based on methodology developed over two hundred years ago. The application of new scientific findings to help children (and adults !) to overcome developmental stumbling blocks or enhance learning is still in it’s infancy and is often labelled as ‘alternative’ or even ‘controversial’. Anecdotal evidence is, however, increasingly being substantiated by controlled trials at schools and university research departments.

In an effort to substantiate their approach, most cutting-edge methodologies are ploughing their own furrow, concentrating on their specific method of intervention only. This is an effective way to advance a specific approach in a relatively short space of time. Combining two or more different techniques may, however, multiply the benefit to the client and an increasing number of practitioners are starting to use combination of approaches with their clients with good effect.

Most non-invasive intervention techniques aim to change habits of response, either in physical, verbal, behavioural or emotional reaction to external or internal stimuli. When aiming to change an old habit, we need not only to instil a new way of responding, but also dislodge the old, often subconscious and automatic, reaction. It’s a process of breaking existing and building new connections in the brain. Most methodologies concentrate mainly on the building of new skills in the hope that they will replace the old habits. However, by combining different approaches it may be possible to speed up the dislodging of old habits, while at the same time introducing new skills. This is likely to be a faster and more durable way of achieving lasting change.

Here I want to explore how two very different approaches can go hand in hand, strengthening each other’s effectiveness. Movement training designed to mature primitive reflexes (RMT) and a listening enhancement programme designed to strengthen auditory processing (SAS) may not seem to be the most obvious partners, but the positive effects experienced by clients warrants further investigation.

RMT stands for Rhythmic Movement Training, an approach that works with natural developmental movements. Through a number of movement exercises RMT aims to integrate retained, or underdeveloped, infant reflexes (also called primitive or neonatal reflexes). SAS stands for Sensory Activation Solutions, an approach that uses music, language and tones through headphones. The SAS method aims to speed up inter-hemispheric coordination and strengthen auditory processing.

The RMT method is based on building new habits of responding through a routine of specific movement exercises, normally performed for 15 to 20 minutes each day over a period of several months. The exercises build new habits in the hope they will replace the old ways of responding. A complementary method that prepares the brain for new learning and that activates and consolidates the newly learned RMT movements, may make the overall intervention more effective.

The SAS listening programmes contain a range of components, each addressing specific issues. The elements that are of interest here, in the context of dislodging existing habits, are:

Photo of brain cogs

  • music programmes that address each brain hemisphere separately, with unpredictable movements from one ear to the other, unsettling existing processing habits;
  • frequency filtering that impacts on the emotional state of the person;
  • binaural frequency differentials that gently guide the brainwaves to either speed up or slow down, useful to minimise hyperactive behaviour or to obtain a state of relaxation;
  • sound waves that direct the breathing rate to either activate or relax the body and mind;
  • hemisphere-specific language programmes that override the internal voice and assist in opening the mind to subconscious new learning.

The SAS Centre in Watford, U.K., has been applying both the RMT and SAS methods with a wide range of clients. Client feedback and staff observations indicate that the combined input of the two methods speeds up and consolidates the new learning. Nicole Zimbler, the SAS U.K. manager and experienced RMT and SAS practitioner, commented: “Each method on its own is very effective in removing stumbling blocks that stand in the way of natural development and enhanced learning, but combining both RMT and SAS has surpassed my expectations and delighted our clients”.

SAS International is actively pursuing research in the effects of combining different approaches to developmental and learning enhancement. Currently SAS practitioners in the U.K., The Netherlands, Poland and Turkey are all involved in developing new methodology that will lead to a step change in how children and adults can be helped to enhance their life.

If you wish to find out more about the SAS methodology, or want to contact the author of this article, please submit the form below:

How long is an hour

clock faceSessions at SAS Centres are normally either one hour or an hour-and-a-half in length. As our programmes are meticulously crafted pieces of science, they are 60 minutes in length, precisely, down to the last millisecond. But sessions often last a bit longer than that and for good reasons.

Firstly, as many of our clients have difficulties with keeping track of time and often have no idea of how long a minute or hour is, we’ve added a spoken timecode to some of our programmes. This strengthens the client’s sense of time and also often results in better organisational and planning skills. The spoken timecode element adds 24 seconds to each half-hour section.

We also provide many of our clients with the SAS exclusive Frequency Discrimination Training (FDT), as this strengthens sound decoding and language development. The basic FDT training adds an extra 10 minutes and 32 seconds to each session, while the advanced FDT training adds an extra 10 minutes and 44 seconds. Yes, we are very meticulous and carefully plan every second of intervention.

Over the duration of a basic ’18 hour’ course at a SAS Centre, this all adds up to well over 21 hours of listening. So at SAS an hour isn’t an hour and we apologise for that to all those clients that already have difficulties keeping track of time.

Seven essential learning steps – Expression

This is the last installment in this seven part series on learning:

  1. Attention.
  2. Concentration.
  3. Connections.
  4. Understanding.
  5. Remembering.
  6. Recalling.
  7. Expression.

In all the previous posts we have concentrated on how we receive information and the internal workings in the brain – how the information is processed and stored. Now this last step looks at how we make use of all that work in the brain, how we express it in writing, speech or action. Ultimately we will be measured by this action alone. In exams it’s not what you know, but how you express your knowledge that gets you your marks. At work your manager is not so much interested in what you know, but how you act on your wise manknowledge to the benefit of the organisation. In relationships, you score through expression of yourself, rather than being in deep thought all the time. Unless you fancy a career as a solitary thinker sitting alone on a hilltop, solving all of life’s problems in your head, sharing it with nobody else, you better learn how to express yourself effectively, creatively and confidently.

7. Expression.

Effective expression does, of course, start in the brain. Often it is in response to external stimuli, being instigated by written questions in an exam paper, as a response to an email, or in conversation with someone. If that is the case, we have already some material to work with. We can use the available information to recall previous situations or responses. We can search our memory banks for a wide range of previous experiences or knowledge, and then it’s up to our brain to choose the most relevant bits and combine them together into a useful response. This process uses both sides of the brain. The information from our memory banks will most likely be represented in the right side of the brain as visual images, probably combined with sounds and emotions and sometimes even smells and tastes. The left side of the brain will then select the most relevant bits from the right side and put them in a logical sequence, ready for expression through writing, speech or action.

Sometimes we take the initiative and we start, so to say, with a blank sheet. There is less context and our expression is less based on previous knowledge or experience. It’s more action than reaction. For example, you may be in a group of people and think that someone should take charge of organising what to do next, or when on a first date with the conversation stalling, take the initiative to open up the conversation. Most people find these situations much more difficult and often ‘dry up’ and don’t know what to say or do. This is because the brain has less existing material to work with and has to be more creative and daring in putting a sequence of words or actions together. A free flow of information between the two sides of the brain is essential in these situations. We will sense when we have this free flow in our brain, as it will make us more confident. The more confident we are, the more relaxed we will be, and that in turn will free the flow of information. This self-generating cycle in the brain can, however, work the other way too, where poor connectivity between the two sides of the brain leads to doubts and fears and subsequently induce more stress that inhibits the free flow in the brain.

Although expression is experienced as actions outside the brain, chiefly writing, speech or physical actions, it is wholly dependent on the preparation and control signals emanating from the brain. Effective expression thus requires effective brain functioning.

The SAS methodology tackles exactly those brain functions that are so important for effective expression. Client feedback collected after completion of a SAS programme shows that the eight biggest improvements are seen in areas that are all critical to success in school, work and social life:

  1. Understanding (+58.2)
  2. Self-esteem (+55.1)
  3. Following instructions (+54.2)
  4. Social interactions (+54.1)
  5. Learning ability (+52.9)
  6. Attention (+52.0)
  7. Behaviour (+51.6)
  8. Use of language (+51.3)

It is possible to improve performance in a relatively short space of time. Children don’t have to fail at school and can start to progress and succeed rapidly. Adults don’t have to live with the limitations that have held them back for so long. All it needs is the courage to investigate the possibilities and then go for it, take action and change a life for the better.

Seven essential learning steps – Recalling

This is installment six in a seven part series on learning:

  1. Attention.
  2. Concentration.
  3. Connections.
  4. Understanding.
  5. Remembering.
  6. Recalling.
  7. Expression.

In the previous post we looked at putting things into memory, but for success in life we also need to be able to, on demand, retrieve that information from our memory banks. The process of recalling is thus as important as memorising. Recall is the sixth crucial step in the learning process.

6. Recall.

Total RecallRecall of a memory is the retrieval of information from various parts of the brain, combining it into a coherent single memory and bringing it into our conscious awareness. Recall requires a number of clues on the subject, environment or circumstances in order for the brain to be able to find the required information. The original storage of the information started with sensory information and the final recall of a memory will again be represented as a sensory experience. Sensory clues, such as a colour or shape (visual), or how it sounds (auditory), or the smell of flowers in the environment, will all help to both store and recall a memory better.

Memory recall is an on-the-fly reconstruction of elements scattered throughout different areas of the brain. During recall the brain replays the pattern of neural connections that it generated when experiencing the original event. These replays are similar but not quite the same to the original and the recall of memories will change slightly over time as new information will get mixed up with old memories.

Distraction at the time of recall will slow down the retrieval process, but distraction at the time of memorising will have a much greater influence on memorising and retrieving information.

Tests taken immediately after the initial learning event will significantly improve subsequent retrieval of facts and ideas, as well as the overall understanding of topics and the ability to solve related problems. This testing helps to protect against sensory and cognitive overload and a quick test is much more effective than an extra hour of study.

If we have paid attention, concentrated, made connections, understood, memorised and recalled the new information we received through our senses, we are finally ready to take the last important step, to express our new knowledge – and that is the subject of the last post in this series of seven articles.

Seven essential learning steps – Remembering

This is installment five in a seven part series on learning:

  1. Attention.
  2. Concentration.
  3. Connections.
  4. Understanding.
  5. Remembering.
  6. Recalling.
  7. Expression.

It’s great if we can understand new information and idea’s, but unless we can store this information and knowledge securely in our memory, all will be lost in an instance. The process of memorising is therefore the next crucial step in the learning process.

5. Remembering.

I speak a number of European languages, which are all based on Latin, and I find it really easy to make connections. The word “table” is “tafel” in Dutch, “table” in French, “Tisch” in German, “tavolo” in Italian … you can see that there are strong similarities between all these languages, so as far as tables are concerned, my brain finds it quite easy.

mudNow I’m starting to learn Turkish, very slowly and not very structured, I have to admit. Because Turkish is not based on Latin, most words are quite different and my brain has difficulties in making memorable connections. Table is “masa” in Turkish, so now I have to become very creative to make meaningful connections. In my mind I picture a table made of a totally solid block of mud. This has a lot of mass, or “massa” in Dutch … a very convoluted way of remembering the Turkish word for table: “masa” !

The word for “good morning” in Turkish is “günaydın”. My brain finds this difficult to remember, but because it sounds a bit like like “good night then” and it’s funny to say that in the morning, I suddenly can remember it very well.

So the same processes that our brain uses for making connections and understanding come into play to store new information in memory. When we connect the new information to events or things we already know and at the same time add visual images, sounds or feelings to this mix, then we are much more likely to remember it for a long time to come.

When we are aware of the processes our brain uses to remember things and we add some of our creativity to that, then we can expand our memory capacity a great deal. To add the visual images, sounds or feelings to a new event or understanding, we need to use both sides of the brain, with the right side providing the images, for instance, and the left side making the connections between the existing and new information. An effective, well balanced, information flow between the two sides of the brain will help memory.

Now that we have understood and memorised our new learnings, the next step will be to be able to recall this information on demand. More about that next time.

PS: Want to know more about the neuro-science of memory – read this recent article.

Seven essential learning steps – Understanding

This is installment four in a seven part series on learning:

  1. Attention.
  2. Concentration.
  3. Connections.
  4. Understanding.
  5. Remembering.
  6. Recalling.
  7. Expression.

After the three preliminary steps of Attention, Concentration and Connections, we’ve at last arrived at what most people will consider the most crucial part in the learning process – understanding.

4. Understanding.

Understanding is the awareness of the connection between individual pieces of information. Understanding allows us to put knowledge to use and it therefore represents a deeper level than simple knowledge.

In my previous post I outlined how the brain has to make connections with prior experiences or knowledge in order to process the information coming in through the senses. Understanding is very much an extension of this connectivity work in the brain. Whenever we come across new information, our brain will scan our memory banks to find similarities with existing knowledge. We’ll search for similarities in looks, shape, size or colour (vision), sounds or tactile information. Understanding is thus very much reliant on memory of previous experiences. Better memory of past events boosts our ability to understand and memorise current events, which in turn will help us to understand more in the future.

SAS two brain halvesOnce we have extracted relevant existing knowledge from our memory banks, the whole brain gets into gear to make ‘sense’ of a new set of circumstances. This is the real process of understanding. All similar previous experiences and knowledge will be recalled and presented in the right side of the brain, while the left side of the brain will pick out relevant details from the right side and start to sort all that information into a logical sequence of facts or events. Both sides of the brain need to get involved for real understanding and fast, effective, transfer of information via the Corpus Callosum, the main connecting ‘cable’ between the two sides of the brain, will be vital.

Understanding is thus a mix of rather disorganised creativity in the right side of our brain and logical and sequential order in the left side. Once we have gained an understanding of the new information we received through our senses, the same mental processes will be put to work to create a lasting memory, but more about that next time.