Spring Is The Time To Refresh And Restore Your Brain
With the arrival of spring, it is time to restore and refresh your brain! Here in Colorado we still have snowy mountain peaks in the high country, but many of us have turned our attention from exploring the back country on skiis and snowshoes, to getting in shape for summer (lifting, yoga, fun runs, cycling, hiking). Now is the perfect season to train your brain!
Brain training with eeg biofeedback (also called neurofeedback) provides a way to tune-up the brain in a targeted manner; you can think of it as personal training for your brain. A good brain training program starts with a brain health assessment, which may include gathering reported previous diagnoses, a listing of symptoms, current learning, memory, emotional or cognitive difficulties. It will note things like how much and how easily you fall asleep or stay asleep, if you have had a head injury, played sports, how you eat, physiologic symptoms, etc. It may also include medical or lab reports that identify hormone imbalance (like low thyroid function), neurotransmitter status (for Serotonin, GABA, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine or Dopamine, for example), or other metabolic anomalies (such as methylation status, or genetic SNP’s that affect the body’s ability to detoxify environmental compounds or medications, for instance).
A desirable brain health assessment includes a qEEG brain map which records brain waves and allows a technician to correlate the patterns seen with symptoms and physical, emotional, cognitive, memory or behavioral concerns. A map provides specific information for brain regions (the frontal cortex, for example, where executive function lives), sites (at T4, for instance, where emotions, memory and verbal processing occurs), and hemispheres (anxiety often shows as excessive Beta waves in the right hemisphere, as compared to the left, for example). This information helps the neurofeedback practitioner apply appropriate training to the areas of concern.
The key idea here is targeted training. Neurofeedback brain training programs address the out-of-normal areas or troublesome symptoms through a series of learning sessions. These sessions may be quite focused (where the client must watch, look, and listen to the cues provided to influence the outcome of a game, for example), or it involves learning to find a place of calm focus, then watch movies, listen to music, play games while receiving feedback. A brain training session may also use non-invasive biofeedback tools, art, journaling, or meditation.
The result? With practice (everyone is different in how they respond to this kind of training, but with as few as 4-5 sessions, and within about 15-20 sessions), most notice positive results with very few side effects. Meaning, clients may sleep better, experience less anxiety, notice improvements in short-term or working memory, have more energy, better manage stress or emotions.