Forbes

 FORBES

by: Peter Jainter

Translated from original German text.

Speed-reading like a world-champion – and more.

How a decision maker in the flood of information can become the Master through electronically supported brain training.

Since their time is more limited and more precious, company top-executives use innovative and unorthodox methods for increasing the efficiency of their mental abilities. The latest invention in mental body-building is Alpha learning, with the primary emphasis on Speed Reading. It is being taught by the master himself, the world champion of Speed Reading, Mr. Sean P. Adam the Research Director of Alphalearning Institute. Adam can manage 3,850 words per minute; the upper limit lies in the region of 5,000 words per minute. But that could change any time now.

Although it often only takes a few hours, the results are incredibly encouraging: the powers of concentration of the managers who undergo the Alphalearning Institute’s brain training course increase by up to 400%. such outburst of mental power is most evident during the course of “Speed Reading”, one of the aims of the course. In order to test their individual reading performances at the end of the course, the participants are given samples of widely known standard literature for managers.

For those who are pressed for time, the number of memorised words per minute are being counted after the reading (on the basis of spontaneous talk i.e. questions posed by the examiner, mental notes of the participants who have undergone brain training before the check-up).

Reading without being able to remember what one has read is useless, so when it comes to speed-reading, memory is the decisive factor.

The brain is being adjusted to the right wavelength.

For this purpose, the brain – by means of a special computer program – is “tuned” into a state of deep relaxation required for studying. It is all run through a black box called the “mind machine”, connected to the personal computer, emitting light and sound pulses at the required rate through LED-eyeglasses and headset that the students wear during the seminar.

The principle is called the Frequency Following Response. In addition to the Alphalearning Institute’s instructions regarding the correct sitting position when concentrating, or reading using the most effective reading techniques, this Frequency Following Response is the basic part of the brain training course. There are reasons for this. Brainwaves can be measured by EEG and – according to their frequency range – classified into four main categories:

Beta waves (frequency range: 14 Hertz) that occur during waking hours, causing stress and irritation, but which are at the same time the foundation for logical-analytical thinking.

Alpha waves (7 Hertz): especially active during relaxation phase between sleeping and waking, making possible thinking and learning.

Theta waves (4 Hertz): during sleep and similar states of rest (meditation); creating image full dreams, furthering inspiration, imagination and creativity.

Delta waves (2 Hertz): during dreamless i.e. profound sleep.

Training the Alpha and Theta waves is at the forefront of the Alphalearning Institute’s brain training course, since the powers of learning and concentration are at their maximum in the relatively relaxed frequency range of 7 Hertz, and the memory functions best at 3 Hertz (just before the sleeping phase).

Such a state – approaching somnambulism – is characterised by low brain frequencies (3 Hertz or less), a circumstance, by the way, also taken advantage of in hypnosis techniques, where brain wave frequencies are not being measured through an EEG however.

Sean Adam (who is able to read a book of 300 pages in 24 minutes) says about this: “We only wanted to dissuade those people from smoking. But at the same time we found out that the outcome of our research applied to other areas of learning and behavioural change as well”.

He himself started reading at the age of four (encyclopaedia instead of comic books). It was his mother who taught him to read, he remarks, showing his gratitude. After his studies, Adam busied himself with the physical training of his eye muscles and with mental training through meditation techniques. For the last two years, Adam has been teaching his “pupils” – executive staff of large companies – how to check and influence their own brain status.

Under the guidance of Adam, astonishing gains in mental abilities were registered among these students. Thus the measured reading/memory values of 350 executives (from 100 different international companies) who have undergone the Alphalearning Institute’s brain training over the last two years, increased by 200 to 400%.

Those who entered the course with a reading rate of 250 words per minute, left with a rate of  approximately 750 words per minute (on an average). And; reading faster means understanding better, being more concentrated and being able to remember things better. It also means saving time: whoever can process 750 words per minute, is able to finish a book of 300 pages in just two hours (normally that would take about 6.5 hours of reading time).

To the Master, all of this is no reason for astonishment. Manager-trainer Adam: “Reading is a physical thing. The co-ordination of the eyes and the brain are the key to speed-reading”.

Better performance, less tension through stronger powers of concentration.

To managers, speed reading is not just a competitive sports event: whoever is able to read, take in, process and remember information faster, has more time available for other things, and is, therefore, ready to take in more information and less likely to be “overloaded”. Since knowledge is power – in our information era there is no reason for doubting that statement – speed-reading is certainly one of the most effective methods to achieve faster and surer decision-making. The Alphalearning Institute’s training methods have even more positive side effects, such as stress reduction and an increase of self-confidence and mental; efficiency in general.

Thus becomes clear what Adam once said about learning problems: according to the psychologist, these are rooted deeper than sex problems. As a remedy, the Alphalearning Institute presents an electronic aid – the “mind machine”. According to them it will guide the trainees into the right “mental position” for learning properly.

Learning how to learn

to some executives this means a slightly new approach.

The personnel managers responsible for the brain training of the executives of Henkel KGaA in Dusseldorf, ICL in Holland, and Raychem in Munich give their account of their experiences with THE Alpha learning method.

Vijay Kothari, International Management Training, Henkel KGaA, Germany:

We invited the Alphalearning Institute to give a demonstration of their method. This was inspired by an exceptionally positive feedback from two mangers that participated in their training. We had the impression that we were dealing with a promising method to increase the reading speed of managers considerably. this way we could contribute to a better time management, stress reduction, and an increase in efficiency. In view of this, we successfully organised a pilot seminar and a number of other seminars as well. The participants were able to increase their reading speed, sometimes considerably, often by 300% or more. And this was not a short-term success. The seminars will be continued”.

Jan Willem van den Brandhof, personnel manager of ICL Holland:

“ICL believes strongly in the development of staff.

For that purpose considerable amounts of money are spent on training and education.

In order to accelerate the learning process, the Alphalearning Institute conducted several brain training and speed reading pilot courses within our company. The entire management team, including the CEO, has been trained. So far, the result has been positive.

Not only is Sean Adam the record holder for speed-reading, he also developed a unique method for controlling brainwaves. This makes it is possible to train the brain with a view to optimal learning, acceleration of the processing of information, stress reduction, and an increase in creativity.

We plan to go ahead with this radically different way of training”.

Thomas Jahn, CEO of Raychem Germany:

“Seven executive staff members of the Raychem company attended a seminar entitled “Learn How to Learn” by Sean Adam of the Alphalearning Institute.

One part of the seminar concerned “speed reading”, an important asset in increasing productivity on a management level – the flood of printed information is hard to get the better of, to be sure. The success that has been achieved with these exercises is very impressive indeed: on an average, the reading speeds of the participants tripled. By using the same techniques, they could even increase their reading speeds further after the course had finished.

Also impressive is the simplicity that characterises both the exercises and the resources. Important for speed reading are: correct sitting position, correct breathing, the use of a felt pen as a pointer (while reading), as well as making a clear distinction between taking in information and processing it. Concentration exercises and training of the eye muscles were other important preliminaries to this exercise. Raychem began the seminar as an experiment. After their experiences it became a very positive experiment.