Video: Building Brain Boxes

This video will show how the brain communicates with itself, the body and the sensory world. Memory strategies are also demonstrated.

About this video

Production date: October 27, 2010
Length: 1 hour 5 minutes
Presenter: Karmen Krahn Schulties
Download slide notes for this video (PDF, 11 pages)

Karmen Krahn Schulties, MA, has served as Behaviour Consultant for the Cognitive Disability Strategy of Saskatchewan since 2007. She worked for 10 years in areas of economic justice, adult education and spiritual care for people with disabilities. With a background in Visual and Performing Arts, Karmen approaches FASD prevention, intervention, public education and resource development with plenty of creativity. Her FASD resources are strength-based, just as her strategies are positive and non-aversive.

About the ‘Brain Boxes’ program

‘Brain Boxes’ is an empowering program that teaches young people how their brain works. By understanding how the brain communicates with the body, how it interprets the social world and processes sensory input, youth are empowered to make conscious choices about how to think, and thus how to respond, cope, and learn.


This video will help you to understand:

  • how the brain communicates with itself, the body and the sensory world
  • accurate memory expectations and strategies for learning and employment
  • how to plan for a more comfortable experience with the sensory world while growing in tolerance


  1. How the brain communicates (10:05)
  2. Functional divisions of the brain (18:23)
  3. Rituals as a behavioural intervention (1:16:42)

How the brain communicates

Dr. Larry Brendtro (2005) reasons that the brain communicates with itself through observation and action. Using the acronym CLEAR, he describes a process that begins with:

  • a Challenge
  • inferred through Logic
  • which triggers Emotion
  • which inspires Action
  • and yields Results

This process is repeated instantly, usually unconsciously, over and over again as actions trigger more cycles.

How and when we get involved in this process is vital.

Often we get involved at the point of action. A preventive strategy is one that intervenes at the point of logic, or when the person is interpreting what has happened.

We can predict how an event will be understood, discuss the impact of that interpretation on behaviour and help the person grow a different understanding of their behaviour. This will help to develop non-threatening feelings.

Behaviour is the visible expression of the brain’s function. We need to learn to observe and interpret behaviours for what they tell us about the brain’s functioning.

Functional divisions of the brain

The brain is divided into 3 sections:

  1. Cerebular cortex
    • creates the conditions for behaviour such as threat or pleasure
  2. Limbic cortex
    • finds motivation through feelings
    • responsible for emotion, memory and sensation
  3. Neocortex
    • makes meaning out of events and feelings
    • executive functioning

The 3 sections interact with each other through chemistry and electricity. This drives thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Brain distortions from PAE

Common brain distortions from PAE can result in:

  • too much Beta (hyperactivity)
  • or Theta (hypoactivity)
  • too little Alpha (focus, attentiveness) and Delta (sleep)

A clenched fist can be used to show the brain and its regions. Draw the regions on a glove or on the hand to make a visual reminder.

Common behavioural problems with the limbic cortex

  • over-reacting
  • inappropriate touch
  • inapt attachment
  • sensory problems
    • over-seeking
    • over-avoidance
    • strong sensory memory
  • distorted memory skills
    • often have little memory for words or symbols
    • but good memory for time and space

It is important to assess the functions of behaviours and teach to the strengths. Knowing the person’s sensory profile is critical.

  • does the person have high tolerance and seek extra stimulus?
  • does the person have low tolerance and avoid stimulus?
  • over or under-stimulation in the physical or social environment can trigger defensive behaviours

The occipital lobe

This part of the brain is in charge of translating and inferring visual input.

Alcohol damage can result in:

  • odd views and understandings
  • confusion
  • failure to realize what was intended

Common occipital behaviour signs

  • intrusive errors viewed as lying, dramatizing or exaggerating
  • rigid expectations
  • nightmares

The parietal lobe

This part of the brain is in charge of spatial awareness and body processing.

Alcohol damage can result in:

  • confusion
  • inappropriate behavior
  • poor sense of boundaries

Common parietal behaviour signs

  • being at the wrong place at the wrong time
  • wearing shoes on the wrong feet
  • a desire to touch everything
  • hyper, clumsy and accident-prone

The frontal lobe

This part of the brain is in charge of logic and reasoning. It’s a corner-stone of self-regulation.

Alcohol damage can result in:

  • impulsivity
  • emotionality
  • problems with reasoning and planning

Common frontal lobe behavioural signs

  • taking things apart to see them work
  • erratic intelligence results
  • acting without thinking
  • low, anxious, depressed
  • disorganized
  • easily overwhelmed

Rituals as a behavioural intervention

Rituals can provide the structure and repetition needed to shape wanted behaviour and promote learning.

Rituals can enable shifts of thought, feelings, and behaviour. For example, the ritual of reading bedtime stories or singing lullabies enable the shift from being awake and active to relaxed and sleeping.

Modified: 2015-09-09
^ Back to Top