Dr. Conway: There’s only two ways to comprehend – we’ve got two primary systems from a neuropsychological perspective. It’s nice to have something that’s a little bit simpler. If I wanted to explain to you how an MRI takes fMRI pictures of your brain, how many of you have fMRI experience? One?
Dr. Conway: The rest of you, you’re out of luck, unless I explain it to you in a way that’s very clear, very concrete with very simple terminology. That helps you build a kind of movie in your head. If I say ‘the scanner is shaped like a donut. The table slides into the donut. When you’re in the donut, it sends radio waves that knock these cells over and measures how fast it takes the cells to come back up. That tells me where the oxygen is.” If there’s more oxygen here, guess what’s happening to that part of the brain? Oxygen is fuel, That means that part of the brain is doing the work. So if I give you very clear detailed information, you can build a movie, you’ll have better comprehension.
Dr. Conway: We know a large percentage of students don’t make movies in their head when they read. They’re the ones who tell it’s boring, I read, and reread. I read three times. What they’re trying to do is memorize, memorize, memorize all the words they see or hear in the chapter. If I say, for example – sir – seen any good tv shows or movies lately? Any good ones? Did you pay attention? Can you tell me everything every actor and actress said during the movie?
Dr. Conway: Why not? You said you paid attention. Because it’s physically impossible to do that. Your brain cannot remember /word word word/, it doesn’t do it. But could you tell me a story of what the show is about. How come? You didn’t remember the words. He’ll pull back the images, he’ll pull back the movie of what he saw on the screen. He’ll convert it back into words and explain it back to me. This is how our imaging system is supposed to work. But a percentage of people, that imaging system isn’t working, and they’re left with trying to memorize as much information as possible
Dr. Conway: So you can encourage these kids to, surprisingly, listen to an audiobook sometime. try to visualize what the audiobook is talking about. Because kids today get far less practice at making these images than my parent’s generation or grandparent’s generation. Why is that? What’s different? TV, or the video age, we’re not required to make the movie, it’s all being shown to us, sometimes ten times at once. Ten movies at once.
Dr. Conway: But in our parent’s generation or grandparent’s generation, there wasn’t tv – how did they communicate? They actually talked to each other. They actually sat around a table at dinner and discussed the day and used inflection, gesturing and intonation. Or, if they wanted to know the nightly news, guess what they did? How about when they didn’t have tv? Radio. Or they read the newspaper. And on the radio, many times they use sound effects. H ow did HG Wells scare the bejesus out of so many people just by reading a book on the radio? What did they do? They had so many sound effects and stuff that sounded so real, people’s minds went wild and they thought the Martians were outside their front porch. Because they were making all these movies. So generations ago, we gave people lots and lots of practice making movies – it’s not happening today
Dr. Conway: We have more and more kids who have comprehension problems because they’re not actually being taught how to comprehend. We do tell them look for the main idea, find the subjects, find the direct object, find the plot, the theme, find the sequence of events, but doing that is not as easy if you don’t have the movies in your head. The movies make it far, far easier.
Dr. Conway: One quick question – if I say to you, how many of you have gone the movie theater to see a movie and they picked the wrong actor. He did not match the part for that book. Why is that? Why did your mind think that? When you read the book, what did you do? You pictured Brad Pitt, they chose Dustin Hoffman. It just doesn’t match at all.
Dr. Conway: So you should be making these movies but some folks need more explicit training in doing that. So other of you have taken programs like this mental imagery program and help lay out a series of events and a series of steps that systematically begin to teach mental imagery skills. Because as we train mental imagery skills, we’re more likely to help them know how to make movies, bu8t not only know how to make movies from when they listen, but to take movies and put them back into words.