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Fotuhi Friday Talks: What Causes Memory Loss?

Fotuhi Friday: Learn What Causes Memory Loss

This Friday the Neuro Grow team discussed what causes memory loss with Dr. Fotuhi.

So, what does cause memory loss, and how can you stop this process and avoid Alzheimer’s disease in the future?

Today’s goal is to boost your memory, improve its performance, and grow your brain! We are going to go over some changes that you can make in your life today to do this. 

Let’s dive into those brain cells!

The Common Causes of Memory Loss

There are five common causes of memory loss that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease down the road. We wish that there was some magical pill that could reverse the process, but in reality, the magic pills lie within you, and your actions. 

1. Anxiety and Stress

Did you know that anxiety and stress can shrink your brain? The more you worry about issues, the more your brain will shrink and thus cause you to have memory issues. 

2. Concussion

This one is a “no-brainer.” Banging your head while playing sports like hockey and football are going to cause memory issues in the long run. It is essential to wear proper protection while playing sports, and to remain mindful while out on the field!

3. Decreased Sleep

People who sleep fewer than six hours over many, many years have a smaller brain. Not getting enough sleep is very bad for your brain’s health, functionality, and memory loss. Make sure you are getting at least eight hours of sleep every night. 

4. Obesity

Did you know that there is an inverse relationship between the size of the belly and the size of the hippocampus? The hippocampus is the memory part of the brain. So the healthier you are, the healthier your brain will be. 

5. Depression

Depression goes hand in hand with stress and anxiety; if you are depressed and have negative thoughts all the time, then it can expedite the process of Alzheimer’s disease. 

There are many other causes for memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease if the very last and most extreme case. 

It’s vital to take hold of your life and create healthy habits. Otherwise, you will cause yourself memory loss and shrinkage of the brain, which will lead to Alzheimer’s disease among other health complications. 

Luckily there are some daily habits that you can implement today to ensure that your memory is sharp, and your brain keeps growing. 

Let’s jump in!

6 Ways To Prevent Memory Loss

These six key ingredients that go hand in hand with boosting your brain’s performance. These scientifically proven methods require some lifestyle changes that are easy to make, and may only take up an hour of your day! So let’s get to it. 

1. Exercise

Shape up! There is a linear relationship with the size of your hippocampus and your fitness level. The more in shape you are, the higher the capacity you have to retain information and remember important facts. People who walk just one mile a day, which equates to 20 minutes,  reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s by 50%. 

2. Eat Healthily

Eat a heart-healthy diet! I recommend eating a Mediterranean style diet for optimal brain health; people who eat a Mediterranean diet reduce their risk for Alzheimer’s by 48%.

I also highly recommend that my patients take Omega-3 fatty acids at a dose of 1000 mg per day for optimal brain and heart health. 

The most important thing here is to eat healthily, if something looks unhealthy, then it probably is, and you should avoid it at all costs. 

3. Decrease Stress

When you experience stress, depression, and anxiety, you produce a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is extremely toxic for your brain, and you can reduce it by smiling more. 

Try laughing at yourself next time you mess up, and realize that while life can throw you for some loops, it is better to enjoy the ride. Relax, chill, breath everything is continuously changing, and tomorrow the sun will rise on a bright new day!

Nothing is worth your brain and your hippocampus, if something is bothering you, it is best to let it go. 

4. Meditate

Meditation is a great way to decrease stress anxiety and depression. So go ahead and give it a go. Breath in, breath out, focus on your breathing, close your eyes, and be here now in the moment, clear your mind. 

Taking ten minutes out of your day to meditate can help. Breathing slowly for a short period every day can reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease decades later. 

5. Get More Sleep

Give your body and your brain the rest that it deserves, if you are up all night with stress and anxiety, do something about and make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. 

6. Follow Your Dreams

Scientists have discovered that people who have a sense of purpose in life do not have memory problems even if Alzheimer’s disease is present in the brain. So be passionate about what you do, break outside the box, and follow your dreams!

The Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease

Like we said before there will never be some magical pill that cures you of Alzheimer’s disease. The cure is within you and the steps you take daily to become your best self.

Enjoy your life, and enjoy your body is the vessel that leads you through every day and on the path to following your dreams! 

Be passionate and be kind to yourself. Try to integrate these methods in your life and take the steps necessary to living with vitality. 

Make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthily, and take just 30 minutes a day to go for a walk and meditate. 

It is amazing what 30 minutes can do. It is incredible what your mind can do. If you need help getting on a brain fitness program come into Neuro Grow and we will create an individualized plan to get your brain on the growth track. 

Don’t forget to smile, enjoy the day, and spread this brain health video to all your friends so that they can start growing their brain today!

Brain Fitness: Why It’s So Important for Mental Health

Exercising Your Brain

Neuroscience reports that our brain function peaks between ages 16 and 25, then cognitive decline begins. Well, that’s that. It’s all downhill from here.

Cheer up! Brain Fitness Programs to the rescue.

President John F. Kennedy focused the country’s attention on increasing physical fitness in the 1960s. Most of us grew up learning about the importance of exercising our bodies. Little effort has focused on exercising our brains.

Neuroscience is looking at how to maintain brain structure and function as we age. Baby Boomers make up 22.9% of our population. As they age, our society is facing increased rates of Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurologic problems.

11 Reasons to Focus on Brain Fitness

How do you picture life in your golden years?  Focusing on brain fitness can result in the following life-improving effects.

  1. Quicker thinking: “It’s on the tip of my tongue.”
  2. Energy to try new things: “I’ve always wanted to try that and never had time.”
  3. Improved memory: “I recognize his face, but I can’t remember his name.”
  4. Increased ease of word finding: “Uh…….”
  5. Ongoing ability to create and complete task lists. This improves self-esteem and independence.
  6. Improved hearing: socialization often suffers when communication is difficult. This is especially true in restaurants, church, and other gathering places.
  7. Better vision: once again, increases independence. Individuals are able to participate in hobbies, work, and entertainment.
  8. Enhanced self-confidence: “I am not too old for this.”
  9. Faster reaction time: this can be important for your safety and the safety of others.
  10. Improved mood promotes social interactions and increased independence.
  11. Safer driving: this allows for extended eligibility to maintain your driver’s license. This can be the result of improved vision and reaction time.

How Can I Increase Brain Fitness?

Enhancing brain fitness begins early in life. Experts have looked at the lifestyles and health factors of people with higher cognitive function later in life.

Programs are now available to decrease the loss of mental function in later years.

Formal education, not using tobacco, and staying physically fit are examples of good lifestyle choices. Optimizing your physical health is an important factor. Following your doctor’s orders in treating disease states such as hypertension, diabetes, and body weight can decrease the incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease and other cognitive disorders.

Physical Exercise’s Role in Improving Brain Fitness

Physical exercise is important for all individuals of any age. When you choose an activity that you enjoy, you increase the chance that you will stick with the activity.

Maintaining an exercise program over time is an enormous challenge for most people.

Walking is one popular form of exercise. Excluding the cost of proper shoes, this activity is free and available at any time of the day. This can also increase social interactions, especially if you are walking your dog.

The brain physically changes in people who walk on a regular basis. Walking increases blood circulation to the brain. The body releases endorphins which interact with receptors in the brain and produce an analgesic effect.

People who walk one mile a day have reported decreased pain and elevated moods. 

The Benefits of Dance to Improve Brain Fitness

Dancing can reverse signs of brain aging. While all types of physical exercise are beneficial for the body and the mind, dance may offer added benefits.

One study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience included volunteers who were approximately age 68. They received an 18-month exercise program to follow once a week.

One group participated in traditional endurance and flexibility training such as cycling or Nordic walking. 

The dance group tried new dance combinations from many genres every week. Fresh learning challenges, including different arm movements and varying speeds of music.

Different step patterns and formations every week kept participants on their toes. The hardest part was recalling dance routines under pressure of time and without help from the instructor.

Both groups showed improvement in parts of the brain associated with mental decline. The dance group also demonstrated improved balance which enhances activities of daily living.

Intellectual Exercise to Maintain Brain Fitness

Studies have shown that remaining intellectually active is beneficial to brain health.

One report in the Lancet, a British Medical Journal, states that staying in school past the age of 15 reduced the risk of developing dementia later in life by 8 percent.

Mentally stimulating activities such as hobbies that allow you to use your creative skills keep the mind more active. Volunteering to work with youth groups or helping with children’s activities taps into many skills that might otherwise be lost. 

A study published in the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services found that people who regularly participated in mind challenging activities scored higher on cognitive tests.

Playing games and working puzzles stimulates the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical that increases learning and memory.

Our brains benefit most when we vary the mental exercises and keep as many neurons firing as possible.

Importance of Social Networks in Maintaining Brain Fitness

We are social creatures. It is important to thrive and survive. Isolation triggers behavioral and biological processes leading to loneliness and early death.

Taking measures throughout your life to prevent hearing and vision loss can be a key factor in maintaining social interaction. These impairments often lead to more isolation due to the difficulty in communicating with others.

Find groups of people with which you share a common interest. Take the big step and take part on a regular basis. This can lead to increase mood, self-esteem, confidence, and life satisfaction.

Good News!  We Can Take Measures to Ensure a Long, Productive, and Independent Life

Begin working on physical and brain fitness now. Don’t wait. Studies suggest that both physical fitness and cognitive stimulation increase brain reserves.

Studies suggest that both physical fitness and cognitive stimulation increase brain reserves. This increases your brain’s ability to higher levels of insult before damage occurs.

We also now know that varied cognitive training can improve memory even in those who have started to exhibit signs of mild mental decline.

You can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks. Scientists report that you can still grow new neurons and improve your brain fitness when the program is tailored to your individual needs.

Brain Fitness: What It Can Do For Your Body and How It Can Affect Your Life

The Benefits of Brain Fitness

We all know that if we want our bodies to function better, we need to exercise. Exercise strengthens different muscle groups, improves heart function, and keeps us in better health. But did you know that the same thing can apply to your brain?

Brain fitness is the idea that it’s as important for your brain to get regular exercise as your body. Having a brain fitness regimen can improve your memory and driving, increase your self-confidence, and even help prevent dementia. Read on to learn about how brain fitness can impact your life. 

How Does Brain Fitness Work?

With age, parts of the brain can start to atrophy, just like the rest of the body. Your brain operates on neural pathways that it builds as you learn new things.

The reason you know the way back to your house from work without having to think about it is that those neural pathways are well-established. 

But as you age, your brain can start to settle into those pathways it knows best. It gets harder to forge new paths, which is why things like your memory can start to decline. Over time, this can lead to things like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other degenerative mental diseases.

Practicing brain fitness helps your brain forge new neural pathways. It keeps your brain in practice with learning new things, which makes it easier for you to form new connections.

Take our exercise analogy: if you ran a mile yesterday, it will be much easier to run a mile today than if you haven’t run a mile in five years.

Prevent Degenerative Mental Disorders

Because brain fitness helps you make new connections, it can help delay the onset of degenerative mental disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

With Alzheimer’s disease, plaques build up in the brain and limit brain function. Staying mentally sharp can help prevent those plaques from ever building up in the first place.

Keeping your brain engaged doesn’t have to be an overly complicated process. Something as simple as walking a mile a day can reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer’s by almost half.

Improve Memory

One of the most frustrating things is not being able to remember what you need to. Whether it’s your grocery list or the name of your new co-worker, a lapse in memory can cause problems.

Keeping up with brain fitness can go a long way towards keeping your memory sharp.

You can incorporate memory games into things you already do every day. A few hours before you go to the grocery store, look at your list and try to remember everything on it. Right before you leave, check yourself and see how many of the items you can remember.

Communicate Better

We all have times when we can’t quite find the right words to say what we mean. But if you find yourself consistently losing track of conversations or unable to find the right words, that can be a problem.

In fact, it can be a vicious cycle, since there is evidence that a decrease in communication with others can lead to a greater risk of dementia.

Practicing mental fitness can help you communicate better with those around you. Some exercises can help you improve fluency and auditory processing, making it easier for you to find the right words. This auditory processing can also help you keep up with what’s happening in a conversation.

Improve Driving

Driving is one of those skills that we don’t often think about losing as we get older. But for as commonplace as it is, driving involves massive coordination of visual processing, reaction time, and muscle memory.

Brain fitness exercises can help improve all of these, keeping you safer on the road.

If you practice visual training exercises, your brain will get better at picking out smaller details more quickly. Other activities can help you improve your reaction time, decreasing the amount of time it takes for the communication to get from your eyes to your brain and from your brain to your foot. These skills can help you see and react to dangers on the road more quickly.

Increase Self-Confidence 

It can be easy to take for granted how much little things like being able to drive and communicate clearly can contribute to our self-worth.

It can be easy to take for granted how much little things like being able to drive and communicate clearly can contribute to our self-worth. We think of those skills as a regular part of being a healthy, functional adult. But when they’re gone, our self-confidence can start to erode with them.

Because brain fitness improves the skills we’ve discussed, it can also help you maintain a positive self-image. You won’t have to worry about feeling like a fool because you can’t find the right words to ask a store clerk for help or because you have to ask your daughter to drive you to church. You’ll be able to stay active, which will, in turn, help keep you healthy. 

Examples of Brain Exercises

There are tons of different brain exercises you can engage in to stay mentally sharp. Lots of people have the idea that crosswords are helpful with this, and while they don’t hurt, they aren’t enough on their own.

You want to have several different activities, much like you wouldn’t focus only on doing squats at the gym.

Some studies have shown that knitting and crocheting can help maintain mental health. Doing some form of exercise is an important way to keep your brain active. And you should test your memory every chance you get – challenge yourself to learn a new word every day, memorize grocery lists, recite the names of everyone you’ve talked to that day, etc.

Get on a Brain Fitness Regimen

Practicing brain fitness can be an important key to making sure you live a long and happy life. None of us likes the idea of losing our faculties as we age, but you don’t have to just sit around and worry about it. Instead, pick up that grocery list and get memorizing. 

If you’d like to keep your brain in shape, visit us at NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center. We have treatment programs for memory loss, anxiety, and more, as well as neurocognitive and fitness testing. Check out our brain coaching services today.

Neurocognitive Evaluations: What They Are and How They Work

Neurocognitive Evaluations and Their Functions

Our brain is capable of performing so many different functions such as remembering things, solving problems, making decisions, understanding instructions, and appreciating art. 

Sometimes these brain functions can decline due to a concussion, a stroke, or conditions such as sleep apnea or depression. When this happens, you can not keep up with your responsibilities at home or at work.

Neurocognitive Testing VS MRI

You know something is wrong, but you yourself can’t quantify which of your brain functions have been affected, and by how much.

Diagnosing brain problems can be a tricky business. Brain MRIs’ can give us nice pictures of the brain, but most of the time, they cannot explain why a person is slow in getting things done or why a person with concussion cannot drive. 

Fortunately, neurocognitive testing can help. This testing can unravel the strengths and weaknesses of your brain so that your spouse, your employer, or your disability insurance can understand what is going on inside your head – and provide you with the accommodations and services you may need. 

In short, neurocognitive evaluation is a great way to check in with your brain without having to undergo expensive and complex medical procedures. Read on to learn more about this testing and how it works.

What Is Neurocognitive Testing?

Neurocognitive testing is the best non-invasive way to test your brain’s level of functioning as compared to people with your age and education. 

A brain MRI can only give pictures of your brain’s anatomical structure. These images are not that helpful in most patients with neurological symptoms, as such symptoms are a result of abnormalities in the level of activity in different brain regions, not their size or appearance.

For example, patients concussion, depression, memory loss, or migraine all have normal brain MRI. They suffer from a great deal of “cognitive deficits,” but their brain MRI does not show anything abnormal on the outside. 

Neurocognitive testing uses objective pencil-and-paper or computerized tests to determine your cognitive function. Think of it as a vision test for your brain. Rather than examining the physical structure of your brain (which can be done with a MRI), neurocognitive function measures your brain’s functions and level of performance compared to other people with your age and level of education.

Why Use This Method

Neurocognitive testing shows the outcome of whatever’s happening in the brain, which can unravel your strength and weaknesses.

Neurocognitive testing shows the outcome of whatever’s happening in the brain, which can unravel your strength and weaknesses.

No other test, including expensive brain MRIs (which give information about the cold anatomy of your brain) or new brain PET scans (which give information about the metabolic activity of your brain), can reveal a true picture of what is really happening inside your brain with regards to the things that matter to you in a day-to-day life.

Neurocognitive testing can answer the following questions: Are you capable of solving problems quickly? Are you able to memorize things at a level appropriate for your age? Can you do multitasking? Can you pay attention and maintain focus for a long period of time?

Neurocognitive testing is commonly used for assessment of patients with concussions, which we’ll discuss more in-depth later. But this testing can also help diagnose everything from childhood ADHD to early dementia.

Neurocognitive testing can help catch your level of functioning in different medical or neurological conditions such as anxiety, depression, OCD, migraine, and bipolar disorder. Neurocognitive testing can pick up on subtle changes in the brain; it also can be useful to measure how a person improves with rehabilitation and when he/she can return to work or playing sports.

Catch Problems Early

One of the big advantages of neurocognitive testing is the time it can save in coming to a diagnosis. Within 2-3 hours of testing, results can reveal if a patient’s memory, attention, concentration, problem solving, processing speed, “executive function,” or language ability are within the normal range or not. 

For a patient who suffers from mild traumatic brain injury, results of neurocognitive testing can establish how much brain rehabilitation they need and estimate when they can return to their normal self. 

No other test can provide such practical information; often patients go from one doctor to another and undergo a large number of tests (brain MRI, head CT, EEG, or vision testing) – none of which unveil what the patient is suffering from.

So the sooner this testing gets done, the sooner a patient (and his family, coach, or employer) can decide what needs to be done right away and what can be expected in the coming weeks or months.

What’s Involved

In many cases, a test administrator gives you a series of computer-based brain tests (similar to brain games) to measure your memory, attention, ability to process information quickly, do multi-tasking, or solve problems.

You will also complete a series of questionnaires about your mood, sleep, diet, exercise, or level of stress in your life.  

Sometimes your test administrator may start by asking you to repeat lists of words or numbers as a memory test. They might ask you to explain how two things, such as coffee and tea, are alike. You may be asked to name items as your administrator points at them or list words that start with a certain letter of the alphabet.

The testing process itself can help you better appreciate what things you are good at and what things you struggle with. 

Knowing When You Need It

So how do you know when you need to get a neurocognitive test done? If you feel you are not quite as sharp as you used to be or if you find that you need to put more effort to complete your routine tasks at work or at home, you may have had a decline in your brain function.

This can be due to a car accident, due to adult attention deficit disorder, due to mild depression, or due to lyme’s disease or exposure to mold.  

It’s not a bad idea to get a neurocognitive test done every now and then even if you don’t think there’s anything wrong.

This can help establish a baseline for your normal cognitive function. That way, if there ever is a problem, you can catch it more quickly.

Neurocognitive Testing and Concussions

We’ve all seen the scene in action movies where the hero gets knocked unconscious and when he wakes up is asked “Who’s the president of the United States?”

This is a form of neurocognitive testing. The person who asks that question is trying to determine without complicated medical tests if the hero has a concussion.

Neurocognitive testing can be a very effective way to test for concussion. Often, a person with a concussion will be disoriented, have slower reaction times, and have trouble focusing.

Sometimes they may have subtle problems such as difficulty understanding instructions, difficulty doing calculations in their head, or being able to follow the steps in cooking.  These are all things that can show up on a neurocognitive test.

Get Neurocognitive Testing Done

Neurocognitive evaluations are a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of your brain’s level of performance.

It can pick up on subtle changes in your mental function, alerting you to problems before you may even notice it yourself. This can help you get the right treatment more quickly, getting you back to your normal life.

If you’d like to set up a neurocognitive test, get in touch with us at NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center. We offer testing services, as well as brain coaching to strengthen any weak areas your test may find.

Contact us today to start improving your brain performance and get back on track. These tests are often covered, at least in part, by most private insurance companies. 

Neurofeedback: Your Complete Guide to What It Is and How It Works

How Neurofeedback Works

Do you struggle to maintain your attention when you read?  Do you have a hard time falling asleep or staying sleep at night?

Maybe you have difficulty finding the right words in conversations. Or you might be struggling with your performance at school, home or work. Even worse, you might be suffering from anxiety.

If you have any of these issues and would like to overcome them without medications, there is a new treatment protocol that may be just perfect for you: Neurofeedback.

This drug-free program of improving your brain waves has been shown – through hundreds of published studies – to help patients with insomnia, anxiety, concussion, memory loss with aging, addiction, and ADHD symptoms. 

The Origins of Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback first began in the late 1950s and 1960s. Dr. Joe Kamiya conducted studies using electroencephalogram (EEG) to look at consciousness. He found that by using a simple reward system, his subjects could change their brain activity.

The Cat Study

Dr. Barry Sterman later worked with cats to alter their brain activity by giving them treats when they responded in the right way. His work aimed at teaching the cats to increase their sensory motor rhythm (SMR). The cats learned to change their brain patterns to get the treat.

Years later, Dr. Sterman worked with NASA to test the effects of lunar landing fuel exposure. Once again, he used cats in this experiment.

When the cats were exposed to the fuel, their brains experienced instability. First, they became drowsy and then developed headaches, hallucinations, and seizures. The cats finally died from the exposure.

Amazingly, the cats from Dr. Sterman’s previous experiment did not experience these deadly effects. Their previous training seemed to have made their brains ultra-resistant to the toxic fuel.

Using these findings, Dr. Sterman began training patients with epilepsy in SMR to decrease their seizures. Sixty percent of his patients experienced lasting reduction of their seizures by 20 to 100%.

To this day, NASA’s astronaut training program incorporates SMR and neurofeedback training. Outcomes include increased focus and brain resiliency as well as decreased stress.

How Neurofeedback Can Benefit You

Electrical impulses, or brain waves, move through the brain and account for your ability for all the things you do such as walking, typing, cooking, or driving as well as eating, going to the bathroom, sweating, or getting scared.

Brain waves determine how we feel, how we interact with others, how well we sleep, and how organized we are. 

When our brain waves are too slow or too fast, we may feel too sluggish or too nervous. Harmonized brain waves are essential for feeling good and functioning in the optimal range. 

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that helps you harmonize your brain waves, naturally (without medications). During the neurofeedback sessions, your brain “learns” how to bring abnormally fast or slow waves into the normal range.  You sit back and watch a movie while we monitor your brain waves.

When your brain waves are good (i.e. they are in the optimal range), you are rewarded by watching the movie without interruptions.

But when you get distracted and your brain waves slip into the abnormal range, the screen in front of you fades; this negative experience tips your brain to move its oscillations toward the optimal range.

As soon as this happens, you (i.e. your brain) is rewarded by having the movie continue without any pauses or fading.

Much like a dog “learns” to catch a ball in order to receive a reward, your brain “learns” to optimize the brain waves that are associated with being calm and focused. In other words, your brain gets rewarded when your brain waves (based on the EEG feedback) are harmonized. 

Problems That Can Improve with Neurofeedback

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become a hot topic as long-term effects in athletes have come to light. Common consequences of concussions include migraines, general anxiety, sleep disorders, and cognitive problems. Neurofeedback training has helped 68.2% of TBI patients improve in 5 of 15 areas of their brain functions.

There are several other conditions that improve with neurofeedback training. 

Individuals living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), strokes, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, seizures, age-related memory loss, and sleep disorders have shown improvement in different aspects of their cognitive abilities and their daily functions. 

Neurofeedback programs may also be helpful for individuals with:

  • addictions
  • anger management
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • eating disorders
  • headaches/migraines
  • learning disorders
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • pain management
  • insomnia

Athletes are also using neurofeedback to enhance focus, decrease stress, and to boost their performance.

How Is Neurofeedback Done?

Let’s assume you have some difficulty with attention, anxiety, or sleep and you want to improve your brain waves. To begin, we arrange for you to complete a qEEG (also known as brain mapping). 

Our EEG technician first places a cap on your head that has 20 holes in certain places. Gel, which usually feels cool on your scalp, is placed in each of the holes. Sensors are embedded into each of these holes and can record your brain’s electrical impulses.

We obtain recordings of your brain’s electrical impulses both when you are fully awake and when you are relaxed with your eyes closed.  

Your unique brain waves are then compared with a “normative database” and a map is generated to show which parts of your brain are too fast and which parts are too sluggish, or if your brain waves are not operating in a harmonious way.

Dr. Fotuhi reviews your brain map, and in a combination of his knowledge of the specific brain symptoms you have, he orders a specific neurofeedback protocol for you; this protocol will help you move your brain waves toward the normal range in order for you to feel calmer and more focused.  

Our EEG technician follows Dr. Fotuhi’s protocol recommendation and sets you up for your first neurofeedback session. 

During the training, you sit in a comfortable chair and watch a movie on a computer screen. The screen fades when your brain waves are too fast or too slow, but the screen becomes bright instantly when your brain waves are normalized. 

As you watch the movie, you see that the screen fades in and out. Each fading reflects how your brain waves were outside the optimal range for a few seconds, and each correction of this fading reflects how your brain figured out to correct itself.

Your brain “keeps learning” with each fading and its correction. Each neurofeedback session usually lasts 45 minutes. You will receive neurofeedback twice a week for 12 weeks.

By the time you finish your neurofeedback treatment protocol in three months, you become calmer and more focused. You feel sharper and faster.

How Do You Prepare for a Neurofeedback Session?

Planning and preparing for your neurofeedback session can improve progress toward treatment goals. Here are several suggestions that you may wish to consider before you sit on your comfortable neurofeedback chair:

  • get plenty of rest the night before
  • turn off your mobile phone and other electronic devices
  • avoid or decrease caffeine intake that day
  • wash your hair so that it is clean and dry

What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider?

It is prudent to create a list of questions when seeing a healthcare provider or starting a new treatment program. Here are some questions you may have before you start a 12-week neurofeedback program:

  • How long are the treatment sessions?
  • How often are treatment sessions scheduled?
  • Will I be able to return to work immediately after a session?
  • What do I have to do to before each session?
  • Are there things I will need to do between sessions?
  • How soon will I know if the treatment is working?
  • How much will the treatment cost?
  • Does insurance cover this treatment?
  • Can I take my regular medications during my treatment program?

 Is Neurofeedback for You?

Do you struggle to get through your daily life? Have you always had this problem, or do you know what caused it? Neurofeedback can greatly improve your quality of life.

People who receive neurofeedback treatment usually describe their experience as an interesting and absorbing experience. They also say that it feels euphoric and very relaxing.

Consider exploring neurofeedback to  improve your mood, your sleep, and your ability to function better on a daily life. 

Brain Coaching: What is it and How Does it Work?

What Is Brain Coaching: A Beginner’s Guide

The Importance of Brain Fitness

Brain fitness is the idea that, like our bodies, our brains need regular exercise to stay healthy. Just as you would have trouble running a mile if you hadn’t done so in five years, you’ll have trouble learning new things as you age if you have failed to keep your brain in good shape.

Practicing brain fitness can mean the difference between staying lucid long into your advanced age and being unable to remember how to get home from work. Your bain agility may also decline after a concussion or may not be perfect because of ADHD or depression symptoms. 

Boosting Brain Fitness

The good news is that you can boost your brain fitness at any age and increase your cognitive capacity to perform better at home and at work.

Thanks to your brain’s innate ability to change – called neuroplasticity – you can grow new neurons, expand the blood supply of your brain, and make new connections to reverse the effects of aging, concussion, or ADHD on your brain.

Brain fitness is more than just a theory – there is a lot of scientific evidence that shows regular “workouts” for your brain can help reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s dementia, help you recover from concussion in a short period of time, or mitigate your ADHD symptoms without medications.

What Is Brain Coaching?

It may not surprise you to learn that, just like we have personal trainers to help keep our bodies fit, there are brain coaches who can help keep our minds sharp.

The Brain Coaches at our center have expertise in neuroscience and can use all the latest techniques to help you maximize your brain performance by giving you specific brain “workouts.” Like a personal trainer, they specialize in helping you improve skills, reach goals, and stay healthy.

It’s important to note that coaching is very different than counseling. Your brain coach is there to help you strengthen your memory, your ability to think quickly, and other mental agility traits.

If you feel you need help coping with anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses, please seek out the help of a licensed therapist.

Benefits of Brain Coaching 

Brain coaching can offer you a ton of benefits, both in the long- and short-term. As we mentioned, practicing brain fitness exercises over time can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

One study showed that people who practiced brain fitness had a 29 percent less chance of getting Alzheimer’s over ten years.

Working with a brain coach can also help you remember things like names and grocery lists more easily. It can improve your communication skills by helping you to find the right words and listen more effectively.

And, brain training can help improve your self-confidence and satisfaction in life by keeping you independent and connected. For example, your brain coach shows you how to memorize a list of 100 words and you feel great vowing your friends with your new special brain capacity.

Why It Works

Brain coaching works because your brain has neuroplasticity. This means it can change and grow over time; you can add or remove synapses, create and incorporate new brain cells, expand your blood circulation, rearrange the layout of your cortex, and increase your processing capacity.

What all of this boils down to is you can change the structure of your brain. Your brain literally GROWs when you perform brain exercises daily.

The way you transform your brain is, simply enough, through challenging your brain with stimulating specific targeted brain games – especially designed for you based on your demonstrated weakness on neurocognitive testing. 

Learning and practicing memory exercises helps your brain get more adept at forming new pathways. This prevents your brain from atrophying as you age and helps you continue to make new connections.

Brain Fitness training also helps you get back on track after a concussion damages your brain and helps you become more organized despite your out-of-control ADHD symptoms. Your brain is malleable, and our brain coaches can help you build a more magnificent brain in a matter of three months.

Why You Need a Brain Coach 

There are plenty of reasons why a brain coach could be useful for you, but a few reasons stand out from the rest.

1. Brain Coaches Have Expert Knowledge

One of the big advantages a brain coach brings to the table is expertise in neuroscience. Brain fitness is not some nebulous hippie idea about increasing the power of your mind. It’s a legitimate, science-based practice, and having a practitioner with expertise in the field can help you make sure you’re doing everything you can to get the most out of your brain training.

Our brain coaches are trained by Dr. Fotuhi – who is a nationally recognized author in the field of neuroplasticity and brain performance – and have completed his one-month training and passed his 5-hour certification exam.

2. Brain Coaches Act As Personal Trainers

Aside from the expertise, having a brain coach can have many of the same benefits as having a personal trainer. It’s hard to stay on track with any sort of growth regimen if you’re doing it on your own.

If you have set appointments with a coach, you’ll be more likely to stick to your schedule and push yourself harder, improving your results.

Getting Started

One of the best things you can do before working with a brain coach is to sit down and think about what goals you want to work on.

Do you want to be able to remember names or directions better? Do you want to be able to react more quickly to obstacles in the road or falling objects at home? Do you want to be more organized?

Once you’ve set out some clear goals for yourself, you share them with Dr. Fotuhi and he will then assign specific instructions for your brain coach  to help you achieve your goals.

Remember, your brain has a great deal of malleability and can be upgraded with targeted “brain workouts.” You can expect to have a stronger brain within three months of working with your brain coach.

Strengthen Your Mind

Brain coaching is a fantastic way to make sure you enjoy your life long into your old age. It’s hard to overstate the impact cognitive function can have on your twilight years.

Imagine the difference between being able to have long conversations with your partner, play new games with your grandchildren, and drive yourself to a lunch out with friends, compared to sitting in a chair at home, lost in your head.

If you’d like to get started with qualified brain coaches today, reach out to us at NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center. We have coaches who, under supervision and direction of Dr. Fotuhi,  will serve as your dedicated advocate to make sure you get the best results possible from your program.

Get started with our new patient portal and schedule an initial appointment with Dr. Fotuhi. He will evaluate you to establish how best you can boost your brain and set you up for the Brain Fitness Program right away.

qEEG Testing 101: What Is It and How Does It Work?

The Functions of qEEG Testing

Do you have a concern about your brain functions such as memory, attention, sleep, or anxiety? Do you know someone with a brain condition? Chances are that you answered Yes to one or both questions.

Though brain-related conditions are widespread, most of them are treatable. 

New diagnostic modalities, including qEEG, provide healthcare professionals with needed information for effective treatment interventions. You may not be familiar with qEEG, but this technique was first developed more than 70 years

Let’s take a closer look at our brain and how modern medicine is improving lives.

How the Brain Works

Many people do not realize that our brain is powered by electrical processes. In healthy brains, electrical impulses account for every single brain function, from blinking an eye or solving complex puzzles.

Problems result when interruptions occur in the movement of the electrical impulses.

When parts of the brain are overactive or underactive, or if the neurons do not fire in harmony, a wide variety of neurological condition will ensue.

Changes in the level of brain wave oscillation can result from many different causes such as:

  • Stressful environment
  • Medications
  • Recreational drugs
  • Strokes
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Seizure disorders
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Decreased oxygen to the brain
  • Too much or too little thyroid
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Anemia
  • Genes you inherit from your parents

What Is a Standard EEG?

A standard EEG measures the brain wave pattern and looks for interruptions or abnormal movement of electrical impulses in the brain. During the test, the EEG technician records your brain’s bursts of electrical activity. They also provide different stimulus, such as shining a light, and measure corresponding electrical activity in the brain.

EEGs assist in diagnosing conditions such as epilepsy, sleep disorders, and finding the causes for confusion or coma. 

How Is qEEG Testing Different?

A quantitative electroencephalogram or qEEG also looks at these electrical activities in multiple parts of the brain. qEEGs are also called “Brain Mapping” or topographic EEG.

This test allows healthcare providers to make interpretations about what is happening in the brain and to look for areas in the brain that show too little or too much activity. 

The qEEG adds the use of modern computers and statistical analysis to the standard EEG and helps with the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, anxiety, depression, OCD, and insomnia. The FDA has currently approved six qEEG systems for clinical use by qualified healthcare providers.

How Is the qEEG Test Performed?

This is a non-invasive test. You sit in a comfortable chair during the procedure. A sensor cap is placed on your head that captures the pattern of electrical activity throughout your brain; it fits like a swim cap on your head and contains 19 EEG electrodes. There is no risk of any harm during this procedure; these sensors only listen (record) your brain’s electrical impulses; they do not emit any electrical activity on their own.

The brain’s electrical activity is measured on multiple places on the scalp, from above your eyebrows to the back of your head – once with your eyes open and once with your eyes closed. The multiple electrodes allow for the evaluation of many areas of the brain at the same time. The procedure lasts between 30 and 45 minutes including preparation time. 

Once you finish with the test, your results are compared to a database containing brain maps of healthy, normal people of the same age. The information obtained by qEEG help your healthcare provider develop a targeted and effective plan of care for you.

Neurofeedback Treatment Using EEG

One method of treatment includes a form of biofeedback called neurofeedback.

During neurofeedback, you are connected to an EEG that monitors your brain wave patterns. You watch a movie or TV show on a TV or computer monitor.

The machine monitors your brain waves while you watch the movie or TV show and will alter the image in response to your brain activity.

The image may dim or flicker. Your brain is rewarded when the activity is within the normal range.

The theory behind all types of neurofeedback is to allow your brain to learn new patterns of electrical activity that is associated with being calm and focused; your brain “learns” to work in a way that will improve your day-to-day function.

Neurofeedback works (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P36y7Iralfw&t=5s) for helping patients with a variety of conditions such as:

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Anger management
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Drug, Tobacco, and Alcohol Addictions
  • Eating disorders
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Learning Disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Pain management
  • Seizure Disorders
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries

There is a great deal of scientific evidence for the effectiveness of neurofeedback in improving your memory, attention, mood, sleep, and many other brain-related problems. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFHg9jO8fCc&t=6s

Improving these health problems can greatly increase your quality of life and day-to-day productivity. 

What Questions Should You Ask Your Doctor About qEEG and Neurofeedback?

It is often helpful to write a list of questions down to take to your doctor’s appointment. Many people are not familiar with qEEG testing. 

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Do I need to stop taking any of my routine medications?
  • How long can I expect the test to take?
  • What do I do If I am sick?
  • What do I need to do to prepare for the test?
  • Do I need to shampoo my hair before the test?
  • Can I eat and drink after midnight before the test?
  • Do hair products such as dyes or styling products affect the results?

Do not hesitate to ask your health care provider questions. The test results are more accurate when the patient is relaxed and properly prepared for the test.

Visit our page for more information on qEEG testing and neurofeedback (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFHg9jO8fCc&t=6s).

The Terrible Teens: How Our Brains Change

Does our brain go through a remodeling during teenage years? Yes. Absolutely.

Our brain keeps making new cells and remodel pathways for balance, memory, and emotional control during early childhood. The last set of pruning, updating, and renovation of these neuronal pathways happen during teenage years.

These substantial changes in the brain structure account for why teenagers may experience turmoil in their behavior and do things that don’t always make sense. Once these changes our completed, our brains are in top notch condition in our 20s.

Beyond that, our brain maintains its ability for plasticity and repair; it changes for better or for worse, but not to the same degree that happens in our teenage years. 

Given that anatomical changes happen to the brains of teenagers, we (as parents) need to be patient with them. We need to allow them to find their new pathways in life and guide them to make good decisions.

Also, we need to help them eat well, sleep well, and exercise a lot. And of course, we should help them avoid concussions or drug abuse.

Brain Proteins: Amyloid And Alzheimer’s

Is the simplistic concept that too much amyloid causes late-life Alzheimer’s correct? No. Absolutely not. In the 1960s some researchers proposed the hypothesis that too much accumulation of a protein called Amyloid can cause shrinkage in the brain which then leads to dementia (called Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis).  Initially, it looked like we were finally going to cure Alzheimer’s disease once and for all. But more and more research failed to show that amyloid plaques “cause” brain shrinkage.

Pharmaceutical companies spent billions of dollars on finding drugs that reduce levels of amyloid in the brain. They were successful in doing this, but the patients who took the drug did not improve. Many pharmaceutical companies finally realized that amyloid may not be the key target for prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, but the research community in this field keeps pushing the cascade hypothesis. 

I think Amyloid is likely a marker for damage to the brain, more so than being the culprit itself; it is the smoke, not the fire. Lack of sleep, concussion, and vascular risk factors have all been associated with too much amyloid in the brain. We need to focus on factors that have been shown to improve brain health, such as exercise, diet, and quality sleep for ways we can prevent late-life cognitive decline. 

Does Alcohol Shrink Your Brain?

Can too much alcohol prime your brain for getting Alzheimer’s disease? Yes. Absolutely. Too much alcohol can shrink your brain. It can also impair your brain’s ability to clear the accumulation of toxic Alzheimer’s protein called amyloid, which will put you at risk of getting Dementia.

Drinking one or two glasses of alcoholic beverages (maximum of one per day for women and two per day for men) can have some anti-inflammatory benefits for the brain and the heart. You should only consider drinking 1-2 glasses daily if you already exercise at least 45 minutes 4 times a week, sleep well 8 hours a night, have a low-stress lifestyle, and keep challenging your brain on a daily basis. If you are not doing these things, then you should limit your drinking to social occasions on weekends only. 

If already have memory problems, you should not drink even one drop of alcohol. It will expedite the rate of your memory loss with aging. 

Risky Business: Contact Sports

Is there a link between frequent violent hits in hockey and the risk of dementia late in life? Yes. Absolutely. To say there is no link between severe concussions in hockey and risk of dementia late in life (CTE) is like saying there is no link between smoking and lung cancer. We need new rules to stop the violent hits in hockey.  Thousands of hit to the brain, in any sport, can lead to dementia later in life. I respectfully disagree with the NHL commissioner, Mr. Bettman.

All About Concussion Follow-Up Care

Do patients with concussion, also known as mild TBI, receive adequate follow-up care? No. Absolutely not. About 3 million Americans have some symptoms due to a concussion.

Fewer than half of these patients are scheduled to receive follow up care. Even patients with multiple concussion do not receive adequate care, in part because the name “mild Traumatic Brain Injury” is misleading; there is nothing “mild” about having daily headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty doing simple tasks such as typing, cooking, or driving as well as not being able to read, understand, or manage your daily affairs.  But why is this?

Unfortunately, there are no guidelines on “standard of care” for concussion the same way we have standards on how to care for patients with diabetes, heart failure, multiple sclerosis, or hypertension.

Moreover, physicians do not have any instructions on how to care for patients who often have multiple interacting symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, poor attention, and inability to organize their daily tasks.

Those patients who do show up for regular follow-up care often get fragmented treatment by specialists who focus only one aspect of their symptoms (such as insomnia or attention – not taking full responsibility for all of their problems). 

Until we have standard guidelines and multi-disciplinary centers (such as our brain center) throughout the country, patients need to take an active role in caring for themselves.

They need to appreciate that their lingering symptoms can be treated and should insist on getting effective interventions that will end their misery – even if this means seeing multiple specialists and multiple treatment programs.  They should not accept their symptoms as their new “norm.” They should fight to get back to their usual self.

Does Running Help Your Brain?

Can running 30 minutes a day improve your mood, sleep, focus, and memory? Yes. Absolutely. Many recent studies have shown that running, by increasing blood flow and boosting levels of growth factors in your brain, can improve your mood, sleep, focus, and memory.  Running is the only way we know of to increase the number of your brain cells (neurogenesis) in the memory center of your brain (hippocampus). Even walking one mile a day can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 48%.

Can You Grow New Neurons?

Is it possible to grow new neurons in your brain even if you are old? Yes. Absolutely. Here are some of the ways that you can increase the size of your brain, in part by growing new neurons and in part by growing new blood vessels, new connections, and new synapses:

  • Get fit — people who walk at least one mile a day reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s by 48 percent simply by increasing the amount of oxygen to their brain.
  • Eat a Mediterranean diet — rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil and fish and low in red meat, processed foods, poultry, and dairy, eating a Mediterranean diet will make your mind sharper in six months and less susceptible to Alzheimer’s.
  • Have a purpose in life; follow your passion — studies show that people who have a sense of purpose in life can harbor significant amounts of Alzheimer’s pathology in their brain without showing the symptoms.
  • Take omega-3 supplements — omega-3fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and are important for healthy cognitive and behavioral functions.
  • Learn new things — the process of learning and acquiring new information and experiences can stimulate new brain cell growth.
  • Sleep well — poor sleep is a risk factor for cognitive
  • Meditate — a general consensus concerning cognitive decline has led many scientists to search for new preventive strategies, with growing evidence that meditation can serve as a potential tool.

Left-Brained vs. Right-Brained: Which is Better?

Are you a left-brain person or a right-brain person? Which type is best for success in business and life? While left-dominant brains focus on details and numbers, the right-dominant brains see more of the forest than the individual trees. To be successful in handling life’s challenges, business, and projects, you need to see the world from both a left-sided and right-sided angles. But you can’t be both left-dominant and right-dominant at the same time. Solution? If you are more of a lefty, then get a righty partner who can complement you. And vice-versa.

Can We See Brain Growth In An MRI?

Can we actually grow our brain so much so that its increased volume can be seen on a brain MRI? Yes. Here is how.

There is no compelling evidence that we can indeed grow the size of our hippocampus, the memory part of our brain – so much so that it can be appreciated with naked eye on a brain MRI. I gave a lecture on this topic to about 1,000 CEO’s at the YPO conference.

 

Here is the video for my one-hour presentation:

2018 YPO EDGE – Defy Aging: How to Regrow Your Brain (in Three Months)

How Concussions Affect The Brain

Can concussion injure the lining of blood vessels in the brain? Yes. Recent studies show that trauma to the brain can damage the lining of the blood vessels and make them leaky. Usually, the content of the blood cannot reach inside the brain because the blood vessels in the brain have three protective layers; this is called the Blood Brain Barrier. With TBI, it appears that the BBB becomes leaky so that molecules that do not belong to the inside milieu of the brain enter this protected environment and damage the brain cells.

This is similar to the way when your sink pipe breaks the water floods your carpets and wood floors.  Also, some of the content of the brain leaks out into the blood flow, and we can actually use this process to measure if someone has had significant TBI.  All of these happen in parallel to the direct damage that a concussion poses on the extensions of the neurons and causing small tears in them. These “micro-tears” cannot be seen on MRIs but cause severe symptoms in patients, such as not being able to think straight, being slow in processing information, and feeling sad or tired. 

Effective treatment of patients with a concussion should include interventions that would reduce leakage of blood into the brain and repair of the tears in neuronal extensions (axons). There are no specific medications to address these issues.

So, at this time, the best interventions include taking omega-3 fatty acids to protect the lining of the blood vessels and repair the tears in axons, to perform brain exercises that would help grow neurons and their extensions, to exercise in order to improve blood flow to the brain, and to do neurofeedback in order to harmonize and optimize brain waves and neuronal pathways.

These non-pharmaceutical interventions appear to be working well for our patients with concussion. More than 80% of them gain significant recovery of their symptoms.

Treating ADHD: Do Children Need Medication?

Is it possible to treat kids with ADHD without medication and see remarkable results?

YES! Neurofeedback, especially when combined with brain coaching, helps children with ADHD gain remarkable improvements in their attention, concentration, memory, and “executive function.”

Here is an example of one of the patients (9 years old) whose objective cognitive testing shows jaw-dropping results.

He keeps improving with continued treatment since his baseline testing last October (blue graphs). 

His April testing (green bars) demonstrate how his attention performance has improved from 8th percentile to 66th percentile and his overall brain performance (neurocognition index) has improved from 14th percentile to 63rd percentile. 

We did not give him any medications.

He only received brain coaching and neurofeedback. 

Traumatic Brain Injury: Can You Fully Recover?

Children (and adults) with traumatic brain injury often do not always receive adequate treatment for their symptoms

This is in part due to the fact that we do not have nationally accepted protocols for long-term treatment for patients with concussion. Most patients just get a lot of testing.

Get The Help You Need

At our NeuroGrow brain center, we do offer a 12-week “Concussion Recovery Program” and more than 80% of our patients gain remarkable improvements in their symptoms.

Majid Fotuhi, MD PhD

Reference: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-tbi-rehab/many-u-s-kids-with-brain-injuries-not-getting-needed-rehab-idUSKBN1HR2WG

Dr. Majid Fotuhi NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center

If you have any questions or would like to request an appointment, please call us or complete the information below. If you are already a patient with us, you can contact us using your patient portal.

We will do our best to get back to you in a timely manner.

Phone: 703.462.9296

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