Attention Boosting Program
This program is based on the concept that children or adults who have difficulty with focusing or being organized often have multiple etiologies for their symptoms. In many cases, they may live in a stressful environment, may have low levels of vitamins, suffer from poor sleep, eat a diet that may be adversely affecting their brain function, or have low self-confidence.
The Attention Boosting Program focuses on enhancing areas of your brain that are particularly important for attention, executive function, and impulse control – namely your frontal lobes. Dozens of neuroscience studies have shown that non-pharmaceutical interventions such as exercise, brain training, specific supplements, and neurofeedback can indeed improve your brain’s frontal lobe functions.
Based on his 25 years of research, teaching, and clinical work at Johns Hopkins and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Fotuhi has integrated the latest discoveries in his field and designed a program of brain coaching and neurofeedback that targets the specific needs of his patients with ADD or ADHD.
A seven-year-old boy who gets easily distracted and appears fidgety in his class often gets labeled as having ADHD. However, this may or may not be the correct diagnosis for him. For example, if he and his family tend to stay up till midnight, love watching TV for long periods of time, and drink caffeine-rich sodas often, his attention and behavior issues can be due to lack of sleep, sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet. A child like him does not need Adderall. He needs lifestyle modifications, exercise, and coaching. His grades – and behavior – at school will improve greatly if he starts sleeping 9 hours a night, stop drinking coke, exercise daily, and receive instructions on how to be organized. Such lifestyle modifications are difficult to initiate and even more difficult to maintain.
Other children may have a genetic predisposition for ADHD as well as some environmental factors that contribute to their symptoms.
As a part of our 12-week program, we establish a thorough list of modifiable factors that can help each patient improve his/her attention naturally. Our brain coaches make a list of such factors at the beginning of the program and help our patients make healthier choices every day. Neurofeedback therapy, in parallel with brain coaching, also helps them become calmer more and more focused.
Each of our patients undergoes formal cognitive testing and qEEG at the beginning, at 6 weeks, and 12 weeks. We nearly always see remarkable improvements in the scores of our patients. This is in part due to the habit forming nature of our program. Patients are often encouraged when they see objective improvements in their formal cognitive tests and qEEGs, along with the compliments they receive from their family and classmates, and as a result become more confident.
One of our patients was a 9-year old girl who had difficulty maintaining her attention in her classes. Her teacher complained that she was often fidgety and would distract other students as well. Her grades were mostly Ds with occasional Cs. Diagnosed with ADHD, she was started on Adderall and initially responded well. However, the dose of Adderall needed to be increased and she increasingly had difficulty falling sleep and staying sleep. She had become more irritable.
Her initial cognitive evaluation at our brain center showed that her attention and concentration were just below average for her age. However, her scores working memory and executive function were below 20 percentile for her age. Her scores for anxiety and sleeping problems were poor as well.
She started our program and our brain coach began by encouraging her to exercise more. The brain coach also provided her with specific brain games that are tailored to boost attention and memory. He even provided her with hands-on games and this made these brain training sessions fun and enjoyable for her. She also enjoyed her neurofeedback sessions where she got to watch her favorite movies while her brain was getting feedback on how to improve specific brain waves. With the help of her brain coach, she became more disciplined about her sleep and started taking a supplement for better brain performance (DHA-EPA).
She gradually realized that she had become more organized at home and school. Her room was no longer messy. By six weeks, she had become more focused, and this was reflected in her mid-program cognitive tests. Dr. Fotuhi was able to reduce the dose of her Adderall. By the time she finished the program in 12-weeks, she was feeling great. She said: “I am so focused I cannot get my eyes off the book when I start reading.” Her grades had improved to mostly As with occasional Bs, and her teacher was very pleased by her progress.
The brain mapping qEEG initially showed several abnormalities (lots of red – in left panel). By mid-program (middle panel), her brain mapping showed remarkable improvements in these brain waves, and by the end of the program, they were mostly resolved (right panel)