How Wynford’s Daughter’s Suicide Attempt Caused Her a Breakthrough – PT. 1 with Wynford Dore

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

When Wynford Dore’s daughter struggled with learning disabilities, the pain became so great that she attempted suicide. Heartbroken and desperate, her father searched intensely for any information that could help her to overcome her challenges and push out thoughts of suicide. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dore shares the amazing discoveries that came from this search with Dr. Daniel Amen.


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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loos, ADHD, and addictions.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades, using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Wow, so excited today. This is the beginning of Cerebellum Week. The cerebellum, often called the Rodney Dangerfield part of the brain. It just gets no respect. And to help with this week is Wynford Dore. Welcome.

Wynford Dore: Hi.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Wynford is from England and I've known of his work for, goodness ... I think 15 or 20 years. When you came up with a program that was really directed to optimize cerebellar function, which then helped optimize learning and kids who had ADD, and Autism, and I learned about you through my friend, Ed Hallowell, who was doing your work ...

Wynford Dore: He was. That's right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: ... in the clinics. But you're actually not a doctor or psychologist.

Wynford Dore: No.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You're a business person so-

Wynford Dore: No, I'm a dad. I'm a dad.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You're a dad. So how did you fall in love with the cerebellum. Now before you answer that question let me just get ... because I know a lot of people are listening to the podcast. The cerebellum is 10% of the brain's volume. It's at the back bottom part of the brain. Cerebellum actually means little brain, and even though it's 10% of the brain's volume, it contains half, 50% of the brains neurons or nerve cells, and it is wildly important, and wildly connected to other parts of the brain, especially the front part of the brain. So why did you fall in love with the cerebellum?

Wynford Dore: I fell in love with it because, yes, I guess I am a businessman, but my daughter struggles so badly with learning at school, and the experts were all saying she's got to learn to live with her problem. She's not going to read. She's not going to write. She's not maybe going to make that many friends, and so on. And she finally attempted to take her life.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Oh, heartbreaking. And she was how old when that happened?

Wynford Dore: She was in her late teens. That to me was a huge wake up call, because when you're a dad ... I've got all the best things in life. I've got a plane, and a boat, and a lovely house, and I've got everything. No one saw the fact that I've got a daughter that I love dearly that just didn't want to be around. And all of the best help we could get then just was not able to turn her into someone that could learn. We could actually see that there was intelligence there. There were clear signs of intelligence but she's couldn't connect it out because there was no way that she could learn how to read, or to write, or to spell, and of course you don't get far in life if you can't do that. So her increasing depression just forced me to change my direction. Now, in my previous businesses, I'm a kind of disruptive innovator, so I go into industries, and because I'm not educated, I don't know what I shouldn't do, so I look for logically where's the best solutions. And of course when she presented me with this huge challenge, I sold my businesses and focused all of my time, money, energy onto finding solutions for her.

And the journey since then has been huge. I've met amazing people like you and Jeremy Schmahmann of Harvard, and Rod Nicholson, the professor at Edge Hill, some amazing people, and I keep on learning things as I've learned from the amazing data you've got. I keep on learning ways of making this program more, and more, and more, and more effective, especially for children. But for all ages-

Dr. Daniel Amen: So you have a daughter that has learning problems, that's depressed, that tries to kill herself, and tell us the road from that to the cerebellum and what you're doing today. So I want to know how you connected those dots.

Wynford Dore: Well, I was looking at any methodology that was impacting the ability to read. I presumed that was the top of the pile for her was the fact that she couldn't read. That must be the root cause of everything. So I focused on that and I found some research linking the role of the cerebellum with the skill development that enables reading. I found a professor in England, Professor Rod Nicholson, who was specializing in this. He was following work done by Jeremy Schmahmann, the professor at Harvard at Mass Gen Hospital, and it was unbelievably unpopular, this stuff. People were ridiculing what was being said about the cerebellum.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Rodney Dangerfield part of the brain. Right, it's this-

Wynford Dore: Exactly. No-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Ridiculous, and one of the reasons I got involved in the cerebellum is on SPECT, the study we do here at Amen Clinics, the cerebellum is the most active part of the brain in a healthy scan, and that just makes complete sense because if it has 50% of the brain's neurons, odds are it's going to be the most active part of the brain, and when it's not, it's a sign of trouble, and so through being concerned about reading and dyslexia, you came upon the cerebellum with these wonderful professors. And then optimizing the cerebellum.

Wynford Dore: Well, it was trial and error. My type of research is I'm fascinated with data, absolutely obsessed with data, and I had to keep my daughter alive. There wasn't time to do double blind peer-reviewed studies and wait for another 10 ... I was desperately hoping I wasn't going to get another phone call saying hat she'd attempted to take her life again, so you can imagine my obsessive focus. I go assembled a huge team of people, and we were just desperately trying everything, and everything that worked, we did more of, and that that wasn't working, we did less of. So it was a trial an-

Dr. Daniel Amen: And what's her name?

Wynford Dore: Her name is Susie.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Susie. So what were the things that worked for Susie?

Wynford Dore: Well, we quickly found that the more vestibular, that's inner ear balance organ stimulation we gave activated her cerebellum, and things started to improve. And as soon as I started this, just talking to friends, I realized, maybe one in five children are underachieving in school, and so we quickly had a-

Dr. Daniel Amen: I think it's 20% of kids have dyslexia.

Wynford Dore: We quickly had an Army of moms who wanted their children to try this mad stuff in case it helped, so we quickly had all these guinea pigs, I cruelly call them, that were trying these exercises, and within months, we were getting amazing results.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And so it comes down to activating the cerebellum, which is heavily involved with motor coordination, and activating the vestibular system, which is involved in balance.

Wynford Dore: What seems to be happening is the vestibular system is crucial in the timing or the powering of neurological developments, so the vestibular system has huge links everywhere in the brain, to the emotional parts, to the learning parts, to the cerebellum, as well as of course to the rest of the body where it coordinates and fine tunes all of our movements. So by stimulating that, you're kind of readying the brain for change and development. By stimulating the cerebellum, the cerebellum acts like the electricians that wire up the brain and make things automatic. So in Susie's case, the first big issue we were focusing on was her reading abilities, and we realized actually, her eye tracking was poor, very poor. And in the studies we've done since, we've realized that over 90% of children that struggle with reading, they don't have a problem with under-intelligence at all. What they have a problem with is eye tracking. In actual fact, they're often brighter than average when you get down to it, but without that skill developed, reading is impossible for them.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And how did you help their eye tracking, or how did you help Susie's? I want to hear the rest of Susie's story. As Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story.

Wynford Dore: Susie, within a few months was reading. Now, she'd been taught at this point, almost 20 years earlier and the teachers thought that everything they tried to teach her hadn't gone in. They thought it was three steps forward and three back, but it wasn't because the cerebellum actually stores in what's called the internal model and the inverse model. All of those attempts to learn a skill, even if it can't finish off the skill so that you can use it. So one of the reasons we had this accidental discovery that we were transforming kids and adults that couldn't read is that the brain actually got the ability there, but it was not finished off, and by stimulating the vestibular, which in turn readied the cerebellum, we ended up creating these hard wired programs that gave them the skills that made life changing difference to it.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And so with Susie, what were the exercises you used? Because I know you evolved a lot since then, but early on what were the things you'd have Susie do?

Wynford Dore: So a lot of the exercises we give, and they vary in intensity. They're all custom made for each individual, but they're all exercises that involve some form of balance and some form of coordination. Now, the inner ear, the balance organ is what's stimulated when you jump up and down, when you go from side to side, when you go round and round. All of those things stimulate the vestibular and the little hairs inside the vestibular system tell the brain you're moving, and how far you're moving, and where you are in spaced, and so on. By stimulating that, it's kind of exciting the whole brain, and if you then carry out some specific coordination activity, and it can be throwing a bean bag back and forth, or standing on one leg and spinning around, or putting your head on one side and closing your eyes, all of these different types of exercise are actually creating increased density of gray matter increased brain cells in the cerebellum, in that electrician that hard wires the rest of the brain. So Susie was our very first guinea pig, and she did it with lots of others, folk who became her friends, and within months, these exercises were causing fundamental increases in the ability to learn incredibly important skills.

Dr. Daniel Amen: This blows me away because traditional psychiatry would take someone like Susie and start to drug her brain into submission, and yet you are so outside of the box. Right out of the pill box, and you're using balance and coordination exercises to stimulate a part of her brain that actually can turn on the rest of the brain.

Wynford Dore: Exactly.

Dr. Daniel Amen: That's one of the most interesting terms I've learned is called Crossed Cerebellar Diaschisis, and people go, "What?" It's like, "What is that?" So if we just break it down, crossed means if you hurt the left front side of your brain, it actually turns off the right cerebellum. So there's these tracks in your brain that cross from one side to the other. Cerebellum obviously is the cerebellum. Diaschisis means low blood flow, so if you hurt the left front side of your brain and there's low blood flow for whatever reason, a stroke, trauma, toxins even, it'll actually turn off the opposite cerebellum, and one of the most interesting things I've learned about the cerebellum is the cerebellum has two hemispheres, so two sides, just like you have a left hemisphere of your brain and a right hemisphere of your brain. Well, you have a left hemisphere of your cerebellum and the right hemisphere. The right hemisphere of the cerebellum actually controls left hemisphere functions, and so if you hurt the right cerebellum ... What are left hemisphere functions? It's detail, it's timing, it's language, where if you hurt the left cerebellum, it effects what looks like ... it looks like you hurt the right side of the brain, which is spatial processing, creativity, social skills, interactions putting the big picture together. And that's just like wow. That is just so interesting.

Wynford Dore: It is exciting. And look, it was an accidental discovery. It was a discovery driven by-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Which is most great discoveries are. Someone's just paying attention.

Wynford Dore: Well, it was driven by my desperate need to solve the problem for my daughter that the experts we had taken her to couldn't tackle. Well, she's alive today and she's very happy, and of course I'm thrilled for that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And so in the next podcast, I want to talk about some of the stories that have come out of your work. Wynford has a new book out, Stop Struggling in School. You can get it on Amazon, and it will basically tell you the story of how he developed this, and you can take advantage of his work and the program he's developed for optimizing performance, as well as helping kids and adults who struggled in school by going to your website. Tell people the website.

Wynford Dore: Yeah, it's That's, and it'll give you lots of information there, and there's some assessments you can do, so you can actually find out is the symptoms my child, or myself as an adult is suffering from, are caused by incomplete develop into the cerebellum. This is such a misunderstood area. I want to just give hope to people.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and the studies we published on Autism, and ADD, and Traumatic Brain Injury, all have cerebellar components to them, and so now to have a direct way to optimize the cerebellum, it may be helpful to you. So with, W-I-T-H, zing, Z-I-N-G, Check it out. Stay with us. You're listening to the Brain Warrior's Way.

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