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Our Brains in Love

 Put simply, love is a matter of chemistry. More specifically, Phenylethylamine, Norepinephrine, Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Dopamine fuel the processes involved in attraction, love, and ultimately, the creation of relationships.

The visual component of the phenomenon of “love at first sight” may be explained by the release of a “feel-good” neurotransmitter, Phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA is a natural form of amphetamine and is released when we are first attracted to someone. Norepinephrine is also released which is what is responsible for the adrenal rush and can explain some of the physiological responses of falling in love such as an increased heart rate, sweaty palms, or even those butterflies we feel in our stomachs.

When we engage in physical contact, Oxytocin, the “love” or “cuddle” hormone, and Vasopressin are released. These two hormones are related to attachment and bonding, and according to two Harvard Medical School professors, they are responsible for producing that sense of calmness and security we feel towards our partners.

Dopamine, the neurotransmitter commonly associated with motivation, desire, and pleasure, plays a pivotal role. Just like using drugs with addictive properties or binge eating, when we are in love, dopamine is released, the brain’s reward and pleasure centers are activated, and a pleasurable experience (euphoria) is created. A 2017 study illustrated that the brain regions that “light” up when we become addicted to drugs or to material goods are the same as when we become emotionally dependent on our partners (Earp, Wudarczyk, Foddy, and Savulescu, 2017; Zou, Song, Zhang, and Zhang, 2016).

While understanding which areas of the brain become activated is crucial, it is equally important to understand which regions do not. Studies that use brain imaging scans illustrate that when we are in love, activity in our prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain responsible for judgement and logic, is suppressed. Similar studies also show that activity decreases in the amygdala, a brain structure that is involved in learning and perceiving threatening stimuli. Reduced activity in the amygdala can be interpreted as a decrease in fear which may allow us to trust our partners more, ultimately creating closer bonds. In combination with the decreased activity in our prefrontal cortex, it means that love can quite literally blind us (Zeki, 2007). From an evolutionary perspective, this may beneficial in some cases as it means we can overlook some flaws, and that perhaps when searching for a partner, the fact that they do not check of every single one of our “boxes” may be okay after all.

Needless to say, having a loving and enjoyable relationship does wonders for your brain. When you are calm and happy, your levels of stress hormones are lower, and you can sleep better. You may find that you can think better, solve problems more efficiently, and become more creative. To learn about other ways you can improve your sleep, mood, and brain performance, you can check out our Brain Fitness Program at NeuroGrow.com.

This blog was written by Ms. Katarina Veevers-Carter and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi

 

Sources:

Earp, B.D., Wudarczyk, O.A., Foddy, B., Savulescu, J. (2017) Addicted to love: What is love addiction and when should it be treated? Philos Psychi Psycho, 24, 77-92.

Society for Neuroscience. (2003, November 11). Scientists Uncover Neurobiological Basis For Romantic Love, Trust, And Self. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 7, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031111064658.htm

Uddin, S. (2017). Neurochemistry of Love: Can Romance Love Truly be Addictive? Journal of Psychiatry, 21(1). DOI: 10.4172/2378-5756.1000e113

Zeki, S. (2007). The neurobiology of love. FEBS letters581(14), 2575-2579.

Zou, Z., Song, H., Zhang, Y., & Zhang, X. (2016). Romantic Love vs. Drug Addiction May Inspire a New Treatment for Addiction. Frontiers in psychology7, 1436. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01436

 

How to Stay Mentally Fit with Aging

Exercising your body as you age comes with many benefits, such as helping with preventing heart disease and decreasing risk for falls, back pain, and strokes – among many other benefits. Just as there are advantages to exercising your body as you age, exercising your brain is also proven to benefit you, according to brain research.

The Brain Can Adapt

The good news is that the brain of an older person can still effectively function like a brain that is 10 younger. Older brains can create new neural connections if the opportunity is given. Evidence suggests that stimulating cognitive challenges can actually sharpen your brain and make it act and feel younger.

Growing older doesn’t mean that your mental abilities have to be reduced. You can do a lot to keep your mind alert and sharp. Many researchers believe that a lot of the alleged age-related changes that affect one’s mind are lifestyle related. Just as your muscles become weaker over time if you don’t exercise them, so does the brain.

People can be more productive, happier and healthier overall by taking care of themselves. Here you can learn more about how you can increase your brain fitness level to keep it healthy while aging.

Age-Related Changes in the brain

There is a close connection between the body and the brain. Any degeneration found in the brain not only impacts a person’s cognitive function but also can play a part in a person’s personality, weight, mood, appetite and blood pressure.

One large scale study, organized by the University of Exeter, shows that stimulating the brain can help people to stay mentally fit later in life. The investigation examined data of over 2,000 mentally fit people who were over the age of 65. They looked at the theory that life experiences in early or mid-life that challenge the brain make people less likely to experience age- or illness-related changes and that their cognitive reserve is higher.

People can take action to reduce the chances of mental decline, taking control of their mental health by way of healthy living in combination with activities that are mentally stimulating. Engaging in stimulating activity that stretches the brain while challenging it to use various strategies that exercise multiple networks has been proven to develop higher cognitive reserve. This creates a buffer within the brain that makes the brain more resilient. Signs of decline, including dementia and other illnesses, are more evident when this buffer is not present.

How You Can Improve Your Mental Fitness

According to researchers at Sanford University in the US, memory loss can be improved by up to 50 percent merely by doing mental exercises. Here are some ways you can keep your brain fit while aging:

– Read a lot – soak up books, newspapers and magazines regularly.

– Take a course on a subject that is interesting to you.

– Find a new hobby.

– Learn a new language.

– Play thinking games, such as Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, card games, etc.

– Do word games and crossword puzzles.

– Keep stress under control with mindful meditation and relaxation. An excess of cortisol (a stress hormone) can adversely affect neurons.

– Play games that challenge memory and intellect, such as chess.

– Get plenty of sleep.

– Have good social connections.

– Eat a balanced diet that is low in saturated fats and transaturated fats.

– Exercise regularly.

– Don’t smoke.

– Limit alcoholic drinks to one a day or less.

– Repeat what you know. If you have just heard, thought about or read something, write it down or repeat it out loud. This helps to reinforce connections and memory.

The latest research, including the publications by Dr. Fotuhi, show that we can indeed grow our brain to make it sharper and younger. To learn more about how you can improve mental fitness, check out Dr. Fotuhi’s Brain Fitness Program at NeuroGrow.com

 

This blog was written by Mrs. Courtney Cosby and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

 

 

 

 

Deep Sleep Cleans Your Brain, Makes You Sharper

The quality of sleep you get matters just as much as (if not more so than) the quantity. While you rest, your brain makes its way through different stages of the sleep cycle. Deep sleep is the stage of sleep that is most important for helping you to wake up feeling refreshed; it is the sleep phase in which your brain is super calm and slow. People who have more of this high quality sleep pattern have better memory and are less likely to develop cognitive decline with aging.

Scientists have long known that deep sleep has positive effects on brain health and performance for a long time. New research studies are helping to determine the biology of why you feel so much more refreshed after a good night of sleep. They have zeroed in on the link between deep sleep and the spinal fluid that routinely rinses the brain of waste material (byproduct of chemical processes in billions of neurons).  This fluid, called cerebrospinal fluid or CSF, is produced deep inside the brain and as it flows toward the blood veins, it carries the toxic waste of the brain to the blood and immune system of the body (where they are then cleared out of the body through breakdown in the liver or filtration in the kidney). In short, CSF cleanses the brain of unwanted “stuff.”  New studies show that the deep sleep is linked with both blood flow and the CSF flow out of the brain. This is an amazing discovery.

A new study led by a team of researchers at Boston University found that the deep sleep’s slow brain oscillations, or slow brain waves, are driven by the oscillations in blood flow and the CSF flow.

During the study, the team of researchers measured how CSF flow changed during sleep. They carefully studied the changes in the electrical activity of the brain and the blood flow in the brain. They used electroencephalography (EEG) to monitor brain waves of 13 volunteer participants in this study while they slept inside a MRI machine (which measured blood flow and CSF flow in the brain).

Interestingly, this method was possible because of a flaw that enabled any form of newly arriving fluid to be viewed by lighting up the image. The researchers were thus able to measure CSF flow and blood oxygenation simultaneously. As it turns out, this was huge because the two are actually linked in a surprising way – a way in which researchers wouldn’t ever have been able to determine without measuring the activity of blood and CSF flow in addition to electrical activity.

As it turns out, the slow waves occur in conjunction with changes in CSF and blood flow. The team was able to build a computer model that unveiled more information about the physics that links these three processes. The model helped to predict that deep sleep slow waves were coupled with the pulsations in the flow of blood and CSF.

They believe that when the brain enters the slow phase, less blood is required for its overall activity; this in turn reduces the blood volume in the brain. During this phase, CSF enters the brain to fill the empty space. When brain activity increases again, more blood is drawn into the brain and so more CSF is flown out of the brain, washing out toxins that it attracted from the brain cells during the slow brain wave cycle.

Slow wave deep sleep thus appears to promote the CSF rinsing of the brain in a pulsatile manner that is in synch with blood flow. The more CSF rinses the brain, the fresher it will be and the better it can function the next day. This may be one reason why memory function is much better after a good night’s deep sleep.

This is good news for those seeking to find solutions for neurodegenerative diseases. These diseases are considered to be the result of toxic protein build-up in the brain. Research in the past has shown that some of these proteins, such as amyloid-Beta (which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease), are most effectively cleared from the brain during sleep. Unfortunately, sleep is typically disrupted in patients with disease, making it difficult for this process to effectively occur.

It has previously been determined that people with some neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, have less slow brain waves. The researchers theorize that there might also be a reduced level of CSF waves. This could be helpful in determining a new method of treatment for people suffering from those disorders. Future research could be promising in helping to treat brain disorders, from Alzheimer’s or age-related brain shrinkage, with better sleep hygiene and higher duration of deep sleep.

In summary, the recent studies suggest that the better you sleep (and the longer the duration of your deep sleep), the more CSF will rinse your brain of toxic waste material that builds up during the day, and the better your brain will function; and this in turn will help you ward off Alzheimer’s disease decades later.

To learn about how we can improve your sleep and your brain performance through our Brain Fitness Program, please visit us at NeuroGrow.com.

 

 

This blog was written by Mrs. Courtney Cosby and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

 

Solutions for Worry

Worry and anxiety are perfectly normal and natural aspects of being human. We all go through times when we are more worried than others.

Our brains are constantly working, imagining scenarios and futures that will affect us. We make mental plans in accordance with our perceptions and ideas but sometimes we become preoccupied with planning, greatly concerned about how the future might look. We experience difficulty sleeping, tension, distraction and preoccupation around such details. This is worry.

Some people experience worry in a form that seems to never go away, which is often considered to be anxiety. Worry and anxiety are both characterized by a state of tension that pertains to potentially negative future events, with anxiety being a more chronic condition that can be quite debilitating. Whether you worry on occasion or find yourself completely overwhelmed with worried/fearful/anxious thoughts, there are solutions you can employ to help.

Worry and the Brain

At their roots, worry and anxiety are part of our natural human response for a good purpose. They help to keep us from making poor financial decisions, from running out in front of cars in traffic, from reacting negatively in a situation (such as screaming at a boss) that could adversely alter our future and more. Worry is part of our lives in the same way that sadness, stress and happiness are. But worry and anxiety can become difficult to cope with if they rear their heads regularly, becoming potentially unhealthy.

To better understand solutions to help with worry and anxiety, let’s first examine what is going on in the brain when we experience worry or anxiety and how it impacts us.

There are three regions of the brain that are primarily associated with worry and anxiety, according to numerous sources of research: the amygdala, the hippocampus and the anterior cingulate cortex. The amygdala, which is an almond-shaped chunk of the brain, is located beneath the cortex and is referred to as the “fear center” of the brain and is also associated with basic human emotion. This region shows hyperactivity when patients experience anxiety. The hippocampus is also considered to be responsible for the modulation of fear and shows a decreased volume of activity when patients experience anxiety.

One study, looks deeper in to the effect worry and anxiety have on the brain. The researchers examined brain activity in rats while they performed problem-solving and decision-making tasks. The neuronal circuits in the prefrontal cortex were found to recruit less spontaneously. The prefrontal cortex is important for complex decision making and mental processing. This shows that anxiety actually reduces the capacity for making decisions and problem solving, proving that anxiety and worry can adversely affect our lives overall.

Tips for Reducing Worry and Anxiety

Clench then Relax Your Facial Muscles

It may sound funny, but clenching then relaxing your facial muscles can help to get you through temporary moments of worry. There is a feedback loop in the communication system between the brain and the rest of the body. If the brain can’t cause your body to calm down, you can use your body to cause your brain to.

The grey matter becomes stressed and the muscles tighten. Those tightened muscles send a signal back to the brain, confirming the stress.

You can break the loop by clenching your facial muscles then relaxing them, telling the brain that the body is no longer stressed.

Write Your Worries Down

By allowing your emotions to be placed on paper, it can help to decrease worry. It might seem counterintuitive but sometimes it is just like your fears are being emptied out of your mind as they make their way to the paper. It also helps you to reassess the situation, which may help you to not worry as much.

Keep Busy

Engaging in activities that keep your mind distracted and your hands busy might be helpful in keeping flashbacks from past traumatic experiences from coming up – because much of our worry comes from threats we have experienced in the past.

Exercise

Working out gets your heart pumping and is a great way to reduce stress. It can impact serotonin (the “happy” brain chemical) activity within the brain in addition to reducing the negative effects of oxidative stress. Exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety levels similarly to medication.

social networking service – SNS – is an online platform which people use to build social networks or social relationship with other people who share similar personal or career interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections. Vector Illustration with icons

Mindful Meditation

Mindfulness, which is the practice of observing the activity of our minds, and mindful meditation can play an important role in how our brains and how to train our brains to self-regulate when worry and anxiety come about. This is a promising solution for worry.

Meditation can change the structure of your brain, by thickening the important areas of the cortex that are associated with emotion control and attention. Meditation is also capable of changing he neural circuitry to make you have more positive feelings, further helping to fight away worry and anxiety.

One 2012 study found that people who underwent mindful meditation and attention training experienced a reduction in activity in the amygdala. The participants, who were new to attention training, practiced the method for about four hours every week for eight weeks. Each participant was instructed to view a series of pictures in an MRI scanner, while measuring the brain’s responses. Some photos were upsetting while others were not. After 8 weeks of this training, a reduced activity level in the amygdala was found when the upsetting pictures were viewed.

To learn more about meditation training for worry, reach out to us at NeuroGrow.Com.

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This blog was written by Mrs. Courtney Cosby and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

 

Post-Concussion Syndrome: The Unseen Injury

Post-concussion syndrome is a serious problem. This common condition entail symptoms that persist beyond three months after a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).

A mild TBI is a blow to the brain that results in injury that does not puncture the skull. It is also commonly associated with a loss of consciousness for less than 20 minutes. Despite this, some people who experience a mild TBI may only lose consciousness for a few seconds or just feel dazed and confused and experience very short-term memory loss.

Concussions can occur due to many different scenarios, including:

– Automobile accidents

– Falls

– Assault

– Blows to the head during impact sports, such as football and boxing

After a mild TBI, sufferers experience headaches and often nausea, fatigue, confusion or disorientation for hours to days after the event.

Concussion or mild TBI symptoms typically resolve within two weeks, with some cases lasting as much as three months.

When Concussion Symptoms Do Not Resolve: Enter Post-Concussion Syndrome

If a person continues to have concussion-like symptoms that persist longer than three months, he or she may be diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome.

But not everybody realizes that post-concussion syndrome is a well-recognized medical condition. Some people have reported thinking they are just going crazy, knowing that enough time has passed for them to heal from their head injury and not understanding why they feel so terrible. They forget that their persistent headache, nausea, memory loss, and/or irritability is due to the concussion they had many months earlier. This might explain why some people with the condition do not connect the symptoms of their PCS with their previous concussion or mild TBI.

Who is at Risk for Developing Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Although some sources suggest men between ages 17 and 25 years of age and young athletes are more likely to develop post-concussion syndrome, other research points to clues that women and older adults are at greater risk. Medical risk factors can play a part in the risk of the development of the condition. Those who have a history of migraine headaches or a history of anxiety, mood, learning or seizure disorders are also at greater risk of injury and PCS. But overall, the bottom line is that anybody can develop the condition.

Sometimes elderly who fall and hit their head later develop memory loss and confusion. Their families or doctors may forget about their concussion and label their cognitive decline as early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Furthermore, some people who deal with post-concussion syndrome experience the symptom worse than others. People who have had head trauma before might experience a worsening of symptoms. Additionally, those who have early headache symptoms after a head injury, or those who experience fatigue, fogginess or amnesia after a concussion, might experience stronger post-concussion symptoms.

Symptoms Associated with PCS

People with Post-Concussion Syndrome can experience fluctuations in the severity of their symptoms. For example, they may exhibit symptoms of their post-concussion if they are pushed physically, mentally, or cognitively (as when they have a deadline at work, if they travel, or if they work too much). This can cause them to withdrawal from regular activities, including work, exercise and relationships.

Symptoms experienced by people with PCS can be non-specific and vague. Some of the most common symptoms experienced by patients with PCS include:

– Headache

– Vertigo

– Dizziness

– Fatigue

– Difficulty concentrating

– Slower information processing

– Memory problems

– Sleeping troubles

– Apathy

– Restlessness

– Insomnia

– Irritability

– Anxiety

– Depression

– Light and/or noise sensitivity

– Changes in personality

Treatment for Post-Concussion Syndrome

Rest and stress reduction are excellent places to start when it comes to treating post-concussion syndrome. Exercising 45-60 minutes a day and sleeping eight hours a night are particularly important for helping these patients recover from their symptoms. Medications for specific symptoms can also be helpful.

For example, if a person has a headache, migraine or pain medications may be subscribed. Antidepressants and psychotherapy can also reduce the psychological symptoms of PCS.

It is also critically important that patients receive a multi-disciplinary set of interventions by team of experts under one roof. Programs like the Concussion Recovery Program at NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center have been proven to help individuals suffering from the condition to experience recovery, including a complete relief of symptoms and the ability to achieve peak brain performance. Almost 90% of our patients report remarkable improvements in their symptoms; most of them return to their regular lives and activities.

For more information about how to treat concussions or post-concussion syndrome, please visit us at NeuroGrow.com.

This article was written by Mrs. Courtney Cosby and Edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

Creativity as a Positive Feature of ADHD

ADHD is a neurological disorder with symptoms of impulsivity, distractibility and hyperactivity. Although the condition is believed to begin in childhood, ADHD can occur in adults too. The negative aspects of ADHD can adversely impact one’s quality of life, including work performance and academic achievements, in addition to relationships with other people.

But ADHD may have a positive aspect too. Many people with ADHD tend to be enthusiastic, inquisitive, witty, lively and spontaneous – and each of these characteristics can contribute to being more creative than others who don’t deal with ADHD.

Generally speaking, creativity is the ability to create something that is both unprecedented and original. Creative ideas must be relevant, new, useful and surprising. Creativity often comes through intense knowledge and significant motivation for innovation in a certain field. These fields can vary, ranging from mathematics to painting, science, or music.

Interestingly, several studies have shown that people with psychological difficulties and psychiatric conditions (such as mania) are often the people who generate creative masterpieces.

Two primary symptoms of ADHD, impulsiveness and inattention, are closely linked to having the courage to take chances and to be more creative.

 

Impulsivity

People with impulsiveness are often more willing to take risks, daring to approach new situations with little regard for fear. One 2011 study, involving 203 five- to 10-year-old children, examined the results of a Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) experiment, which is a computerized test where participants are enabled to blow up balloons by way of one click at a time. Every time a balloon is blown up, participants earn a monetary reward. If the balloon pops, however, the earnings are lost.

The researchers determined that the participants who had been previously diagnosed with ADHD popped more balloons than the control group, showing greater risk-taking than the group of participants without ADHD. The participants who had ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) popped the most balloons out of all of the groups.

Teachers of children who tend to be more impulsive also notice that these children are more curious. This likely creates more opportunities for learning for these students, in addition to possibly enhancing their creativity.

 

Inattention

Inattention occurs more frequently in people with ADHD and can lead to mind wandering and the drifting of thoughts from a task or surrounding. This drifting is thought to lead to new, creative and useful ideas.

One study, published in Journal of Creative Behavior, examined 26 college students who had ADHD and 26 without the condition, to perform two different creativity tests. The first test involved the invention and drawing of alien fruits without copying anything from earth. Students who had ADHD created alien fruits that were more unique. During the study, participants were also asked to create product labels and the students with ADHD came up with product names that were less conventional.

One idea here is that prior knowledge can be an obstacle when it comes to creativity. When we look at a model or example for inspiration on any project, our brains have a tendency to become stuck. This is often referred to as “fixation” by designers. When people are given examples prior to being given a task that requires them to invent something new, the inventions they come up with often incorporate aspects of the original examples and are less creative or novel. Being able to overcome information that was recently presented is vital when it comes to creative thinking.

People with ADHD are often better at creating new uses for everyday objects or brainstorming new ideas. They are better able to overcome information that has been recently presented to them, making it possible for them to be more creative in their thinking.

Furthermore, when a person, like the above college students, are asked to create something like a fruit or an animal that exists on another planet, many people would begin by thinking of something they already know of on earth, then modifying it into some “alien” form. But the true key to creating creativity under such conditions is something called conceptual expansion, or the ability to loosen conceptual boundaries. People with ADHD are often better-equipped to do this.

It is important to know that ADHD is a heterogeneous disorder, meaning that there are not only differences between the individuals affected but also their symptoms (predominantly hyperactive/impulsive or predominantly inattentive). Cognitive performance can vary greatly from one person with ADHD to the next. In fact, some people with ADHD are able to focus intensely on one single thing if interested, which is often referred to as hyperfocus. This ability is also beneficial for artistic or creative projects or tasks.

Studies continue to unveil the link between creativity and ADHD. Clear evidence is not always provided that proves that people with ADHD are more creative than non-ADHD thinkers, but there is growing evidence that strongly suggests this hypothesis to be factual. This means that while individuals can seek help to improve their attention, they also possess unique qualities that can help them be successful in life.

To learn more about ADHD and our Attention Boosting Program, please visit us at NeuroGrow.com.

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This article was inspired by an article published by Scientific American and was re-written (with other information added) by Mrs. Courtney Cosby and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi. 

Memory Loss Happens to Healthy Young People Too

If you have ever found yourself standing at your open refrigerator with a laundry basket full of clothes in your hand, unsure of why you were there in the first place, you might blame getting older for your forgetfulness. But the truth is, not all memory problems are necessarily age related as these problem happen even to young people.

Minor memory lapses, such as forgetting where you placed your keys or forgot the name of someone you know, are usually the result of normal changes in your brain’s structure and function.

Memory studies show that nearly one-third of healthy older people battle difficulty with the ability to recall facts but yet a large number of 80-year olds perform just as well as those in their 30s on challenging tests of memory.

Many older people can remember details about their first bicycle or their first date. Have you ever had a grandparent who told you tales of his or her childhood? These are long-term memories that often remain intact with age.

Short-term memory entails your current thoughts, including what you are doing right now and what you plan to do in the next few moments. You use short-term memory to think about what you will say next or walking to the refrigerator with an armful of laundry because you suddenly remembered you need to get the chicken out to thaw.

Common Memory Loss and Forgetfulness Problems

Short-term memory is easily disrupted. How actively you are paying attention to which steps are in your mental “to-do” list can play a part in how strongly your mind holds onto those details, by thinking about them (perhaps over and over again). But any distraction that comes along, such as a new thought or the phone ringing, can cause your short-term memory to be disrupted.

Here are some common memory problems that are considered to be normal, regardless of age:

  • Suggestibility, which takes place when your memory is changed by false information from another source. You may have remembered your favorite ice cream as a child being chocolate but your sibling said it was vanilla, so your memory is altered over time.
  • Misattribution, which takes place when you can only remember part of something while forgetting a detail like the place, time or a person who was involved.
  • Transience, which is the tendency to forget details over time. Brain scientists think this is actually a good thing because it helps to clear the brain of unwanted or unused memories, making room for newer ones.
  • Blocking, which takes place when someone asks you a question and you cannot recall the answer although it is on the tip of your tongue. It is the temporary inability to remember a detail.
  • Bias, which suggests that even the sharpest of memories that you have are not without flaw. Your personal knowledge, beliefs and experience can play into your perceptions and memories.
  • Absentmindedness, which is a type of forgetfulness that takes place when you don’t pay enough attention. You didn’t focus on where you set your keys so you forgot where they are. You were focusing on something else.

 

Memory Problems are not a Direct Result of Age

Although the brain’s ability to automatically restore short-term memory contents declines a little each decade after a person hits 30, age is not the major factor that is often assumed. Even 20 year olds forget where they set their phone or to bring a book to class or forget something their professor said just two minutes prior.

So why do we often associate forgetfulness or memory loss with aging if it happens to younger people too? One of the largest issues is not age but instead what we tell ourselves or believe about these forgetful events. For example, a 20 year old doesn’t often think that she forgot to bring her pencil to class because she is experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s. Instead, she attributes it to getting little sleep or having too much on her mind. A 70 year old worries about his brain health when he experiences the same events of forgetfulness. This does not mean that memory impairments related to declining neurological health are not real because they are very real. What it does mean, however, is that not every lapse in short-term memory means that there is a biological disorder at play.

People who are older are often attributed to being wise or having more life experience and are often more trusted because of it.

Another reason older adults tend to have “memory issues” is because they have more memories and information to sift through than the younger adults. The brain can become crowded with information. This does not mean they cannot remember details – they may just have more details to sort through to find the one they intend to land on. This “crowdedness” has shown up in simulations of adult memory systems.

Improving Memory Problems

Memory problems can be improved in several ways, including strategies that contribute to greater well-being overall, such as regular exercise, a well-balanced diet and adequate sleep. You may also benefit from brain exercise or a Brain Fitness Program. For more information on how you can improve your memory, visit us at NeuroGrow.com.

 

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This article was inspired by an opinion piece written for the New York Times and was written by Mrs. Courtney Cosby and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

Biofeedback as an Option for the Treatment of Concussion Symptoms

 

Biofeedback as on Option for the Treatment of Concussion Symptoms

A concussion can lead to lasting problems if left untreated or undertreated. When it comes to brain injury, it is vital to gain understanding of how the brain’s overall function is impacted by the injury.

There are many different options that can address concussion symptoms for patients with different symptoms such as headaches, vertigo, or insomnia. Among them, Biofeedback therapy methods, such as neurofeedback therapy and heart rate variability training (among other options), can be remarkably effective. However, most clinicians are not quite familiar about these options and fail to offer them to their patients.

What is Biofeedback?

Before digging deeper, let’s touch on what biofeedback is and how it differs from neurofeedback. Many people get the two treatment methods confused. Some are unaware that there is even a difference. But the truth is, the terms are not interchangeable. Neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback, is a subset of biofeedback.

Biofeedback employs medical instruments to gain information, or feedback, about an individual’s physiological activity for the purpose of improved performance and overall health. Biofeedback can be used to treat many medical conditions, including anxiety, hypertension, chronic pain, stress and more.

Neurofeedback for the Treatment of Concussion Symptoms

Neurofeedback is a specific subset of biofeedback that is research-proven to help improve brainwave activity. Neurofeedback has been shown to be helpful for treating neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury, sleep disorders, migraines, ADHD, anxiety, stress and other conditions related to the brain.

After a brain injury, a person’s brain waves can be negatively changed. Neurofeedback enable doctors to determine which brain waves are changed and then provide patients with EEG-based protocols to bring the brain’s rhythm back to normal. Neurofeedback is a painless, simple and non-invasive way to do just that.

Neurofeedback offers instantaneous information about changes in the brain’s electrical activity. Every half second, the brain activity is recorded and compared to targets set for change. When your brain meets the targeted goal, you get a signal and a reward. If your brain fails to meet it, you do not.

In one form of neurofeedback, the patient sits in front of a TV screen and watches a movie. Several sensors are placed on the head which record his/her brain activity. This information then is sent to a computer so that these brain waves are compared to results from a normal population. If there is a difference between patient’s brain waves and optimal brain waves, then the screen fades. This dimming of the screen is the feedback to the patient’s brain that something needs to be done. Then the brain “learns” to improve its activity such that the brain waves are within the normal range. This brain self-correction results in the screen returning to full view. Thus a feedback from the patient’s brain leads to adjustments in his/her brain waves; in other words, the brain learns to function in an optimal range.   

Neurofeedback can be considered like push-ups for the brain. With every fading of the screen, the brain waves become stronger – and this can happen once every two seconds.  This form of brain training includes a lot of repetition (about 30 times every minute), which is proven to be beneficial for the reshaping of the brain. In just 20 neurofeedback sessions, your brain gets 72,000 chances to learn! This allows your brain to reshape networks after a concussion or traumatic brain injury.

Research has proven the effectiveness of biofeedback in treating concussion symptoms in individuals with mild traumatic brain injury. For example, one medical report noted the results of a 17-year old female athlete who experienced two consecutive concussions with headache symptoms. She was given twenty-two sessions of EEG-guided neurofeedback, which produced normalization of her EEG profile and her headaches went away. After a second concussion, she was given the same treatment and her brain activity was again normalized and symptoms dissipated.

Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is another form of biofeedback that includes measuring the body’s response after brain injury. Heart Rate Variability is essentially a measure of the variations in heart rate between beats followed by slow breathing to correct any apparent abnormalities.

HRV biofeedback can help in the detection of concussions, the monitoring of recovery and for setting targets for treatment. Concussions can lead to a dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which leads to changes in HRV.

During a HRV biofeedback session, beat by beat heart rate data is measured during slow breathing so the breathing can begin to optimize the heart rate patterns. A biofeedback device displays on a computer monitor when the patient has maximized the interaction, which has an activation effect on the nervous system. It is also very calming for the nervous system.

It has been found that HRV is an important mechanism that can help to increase the communication between the cardiac system and the nervous systems, which is promising for those suffering from concussion symptoms.

One study reported that alterations in HRV were present in patients with mild TBI or concussion. A decrease in HRV was common in patients with all levels of brain injury severity, as well as disruption in cardiovascular activity. HRV biofeedback training can help symptoms related to post-concussion syndrome to improve by improving autonomic balance and cerebral autoregulation, helping the brain and body to heal.

To learn more about neurofeedback and its benefits, visit us at NeuroGrow.com.

This blog was written by Mrs. Courtney Cosby and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

 

Brain Biofeedback: A Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

Many biological predispositions exist for anxiety and depression. Mood and anxiety disorders are among the most common types of mental disorders. These conditions are debilitating and are associated with considerable costs at an economic, societal and personal level.

Common treatment options for such disorders include pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. But new research shows that medications for anxiety, depression, and related symptoms such as insomnia are only slightly more effective than placebo treatments. Additionally, not all patients respond positively to pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy and often experience unpleasant side effects.

The good news is there are other treatment options that can be quite effective, such as biofeedback. Biofeedback is a non-invasive treatment technique that helps patients get feedback from how their body or brain is functioning and then use that information to improve their body or brain function.  In biofeedback therapy, a person’s psychophysiological state is captured by specials sensors that measure heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, or brain activity.  With the patient receives this information, he/she can then try to change his/her heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, or brain activity. 

For example a biofeedback device can show that your heart rate races at 100; then you can take deep breaths for 10-15 minutes, and your heart rate gradually falls to 80-90.  If you do this exercise twice a day for two months, your baseline heart rate becomes calmer – even when you are not trying to focus on breathing slowly. Such treatment can over time improve your blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Neurofeedback Therapy

A specific type of biofeedback is neurofeedback therapy, or neurotherapy. Neurofeedback is a research-based intervention that can improve your brain function through brain training exercises.

Your brain cells can become overactive when you are anxious or stressed out.  But your brain can “learn” to calm down if you were to receive an input about how overactive your brain is (just as you can appreciate how fast your heart is racing if you were to have device that measures your pulse).  The electrical activity of your brain (known as “brain waves”) can be measured by sensors placed on your head (similar to EKG sensors that are used to measure heart activity).  Neurofeedback trains a patient’s brain to improve the brainwave patterns by way of computer technology. The feedback is administered to the patient in real time, by using video images or by using sounds. Neurofeedback can lead  behavioral changes for relaxation and better mood.

Brain science has proven that repetitive exercise of brain networks, such as that involved with neurofeedback, has the ability to reshape the brain. It helps to optimize brain wave patterns while enhancing connections between neurons and networks. Neurofeedback therapy also improves the parasympathetic nervous system while slowing blood pressure and heart rate.  After 20-60 sessions of neurofeedback, many patients experience a reduction of their anxiety and depression symptoms.

 

Neurofeedback for Anxiety and Depression

A great deal of scientific evidence in the past 30 years has provided evidence for the effectiveness of neurofeedback as a treatment modality for anxiety and depression. In each study, anxiety and/or depression was reduced after neurofeedback training was administered for three months.

One method for reducing anxiety with neurofeedback has been shown in a publication in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. Deficient emotion regulation can be a marker for anxiety. These deficits are closely linked to impaired prefrontal regulatory control (the “logical parts of the brain) over the amygdala, a part of the brain that is tightly linked with emotions such as anxiety. Thankfully this impairment is sensitive to treatment with neurofeedback which leads to a reduction symptoms of anxiety.

Numerous studies have shown that a person’s mood is positive when the left frontal area of the brain is more active than the right frontal region – and that the mood is poor when the right is more active than the left. Neurofeedback therapy uses this established finding to treat depression. According to multiple controlled studies, mood was improved when the left front side of the brain was trained to be more active than the right by way of neurofeedback therapy.

A study by Dr. Majid Fotuhi and his colleagues showed that neurofeedback therapy, especially when combined by another form of biofeedback that involved breathing slowly (called Heart Rate Variability training) can be quite effective for reducing symptoms both anxiety and depression. They performed an assessment with the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA) symptom checklist. 183 of the 334 clients had abnormal scores for depression, anxiety or both. During the study, clients experienced substantial improvement after 30 sessions of neurofeedback and heart rate variability training. More importantly, many of the clients fell into the normal group after treatment. And for clients who exemplified the most severe of symptoms of anxiety and depression, 57.1% of those with severe anxiety and 45.8% of those with severe depression fell into the normal group after treatment.

 

Evidence from many other studies in recent years continues to show that neurofeedback is a viable treatment option for patients who suffer from anxiety, depression, and related symptoms such as poor sleep, difficulty with attention, and brain fog. For more information about neurofeedback, please visit our website at www.neurogrow.com.

 

 

This blog is written by Mrs. Courtney Cosby and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

Foods to Eat During Brain Injury Recovery

What you eat greatly influences how well (or poorly) your brain functions. Eating a healthy diet that is nutrient-dense when your body recovers from a brain injury is of great value to your overall well-being and recovery from concussion symptoms.

The brain needs nutrients and calories in order to function and it is vital that a person who has sustained a brain injury gets enough calories for the brain to function efficiently. Additionally, deficiencies in certain chemical and nutrients can lead to disruptions in the brain’s function and a person’s ability to think with clarity. Nutrition comes in many forms, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, lipids and carbohydrates.

Neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, that are responsible for regulating your behavior are controlled by what you put in your body. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine are responsible for your moods. For example, if you eat foods that increase your body’s serotonin levels, you will become less tense. Foods that encourage the production of norepinephrine or dopamine enable you to think more clearly and be more alert.

A common unfortunate side effect of a mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, is depression. This can keep a person from living a normal functioning life and can interfere with one’s ability to enjoy life overall. By making healthy food choices that combat depression and other issues after a concussion, you may be able to help keep these symptoms at bay.

Nourish Your Brain with These Foods

Ensure you are eating a brain-healthy diet by taking in vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, water and micronutrients.

Vitamins

Vitamins are important for helping to regulate the metabolism as well as biochemical processes that help to release energy that comes from food. Enzymes act as activators during the digestion process, helping the body to better digest. Vitamins work with enzymes to ensure that the actions are carried out exactly as they are designed to do.

Some of the most important vitamins to consider getting in your body, either by way of consuming foods rich in them or by taking supplements (by the direction of a health professional) include: Vitamin A, B1/Thiamine, B2/Riboflavin, B3/Niacin, B5/Panothenic Acid, B6/Pyridoxine, B12/Cyancobalamin, Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin C, Choline, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and Folic Acid/Folate.

The best vitamin for the brain, which you can also obtain from eating fish, is omega-3 fatty acids. They have been found to improve cognition and recovery on neurons after brain injury. Look for these in foods like flaxseed, salmon, soybeans, walnuts and chia seeds. Dr. Fotuhi, the medical director of NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center, analyzed the results of published studies with regards to omega-3 fatty acids, and discovered that higher levels of this brain vitamin is associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. His recommended dose is 1,500 mg/day.

Minerals

Minerals help your body to ensure that fluids are in correct balance. They help the body with proper blood and bone formation in addition to healthy muscle tone and nerve formation. Minerals help to promote energy, healing and growth as coenzymes. Every mineral in the body works uniquely yet together with coenzymes. If one is out of balance, the rest can be affected.

Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese and zinc are all important for proper body and brain function.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates supply energy to the body so it can properly function. They are important because they contribute to blood glucose, which helps to energize the cells in the body – and the brain.  

Carbs are found in many food sources, including beans, meat, fruits, legumes and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates are better for you than simple carbohydrates, which are found in processed foods and beverages like candy, sodas and other sweet treats. Opt for complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain breads and pastas and whole fruits (not dried or canned) after a mild traumatic brain injury. However, you need to avoid eating too much carbohydrate-rich food such bread, rice, cookies, or sugary candies. They can contribute to weight gain and obesity.

Proteins

Proteins are essential for growth and development and also provide the body with necessary energy, all while helping with the formation of antibodies, enzymes, hormones and tissues. The body breaks protein down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. The body can make nonessential amino acids from other amino acids while essential amino acids can only come into the body through the foods you eat. Amino acids are important when it comes to building muscle. If your body is lacking in essential amino acids for a long time, it can stop building protein altogether, leaving a negative effect on the body’s ability to function properly and heal.

Strive to eat complete proteins found in fish, poultry, other meat, eggs, cheese, milk and even hummus. Incomplete proteins are also good and can be found in leafy green vegetables, legumes and grains.

Fats

Fat is important for the body. It is vital when it comes to normal brain development and fat also helps to provide energy. Some fats are better than others, however. It is recommended to read nutrition labels and eat less saturated fat and opt instead for foods higher in monounsaturated fat and omega-3s and omega-6s.

Water

The body is comprised of two-thirds water. It is used in every function in the human body and works to transport not only nutrients but also waste from every cell. Water helps to maintain body temperature and is vital for digestive actions, proper absorption of nutrients and circulatory functions. Ensure that you get at least eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water every day.

It is best to talk to a trained professional about which foods and supplements are best for you. If you or a loved one has suffered from a brain injury, reach out to our knowledgeable team at NeuroGrow.com to get on the path to true recovery.

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This blog was written by Mrs. Courtney Cosby and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

 

NeuroGrow Concussion Recovery Program

Post concussive syndrome is a complex disorder that can last for months or years after an injury. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) that typically occurs after a blow to the head or violent movement or shaking of the body or head. A person does not have to lose consciousness to develop a concussion or post concussive syndrome.

In up to 75 to 90% of the cases, concussion symptoms resolve before 90 days. But for patients with a single severe concussion, repeated concussions, or in those who have a pre-existing condition such as migraine, insomnia, or depression, symptoms persist for a long time. A person is diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome (PCS) if symptoms persist for at least 3 months after the initial injury.

A traumatic brain injury can alter or damage the function of the neurons and blood vessels within the brain. This type of injury to the brain can tear the extensions of individual neurons (called axons); it causes a process called Diffuse Axonal Injury.

Depending which parts of the brain (or neck) are involved, patients may experience a range of symptoms, including: Headache, dizziness, neck pain, vertigo, irritability, insomnia, inability to perform daily tasks, memory loss, confusion, and/or hypersensitivity to noise or sound. These different set of symptoms can be put into four main categories of symptoms:

Because these patients have many different types of symptoms, they are often treated by several different therapeutic approaches. And because each expert knows about their own specific sub-specialty and focus only one part of patients’ issues, patients find themselves going from one doctor to next for months to years. This fragmented approach of taking care of a patient with disabling symptoms often fails to help them reach a full recovery.

There is currently no consensus in the field of any single effective treatment protocol for post-concussion patients overall. This is in part likely due to the fact that patients present with a multifactorial set of symptoms, meaning no single form of intervention will work for helping all of these patients.
Dr. Fotuhi at NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center recognized this lack of adequate treatment and developed a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive and personalized 12-week brain rehabilitation program. This “concussion recovery program” is targeted for patients who feel frustrated about their concussion struggles and seek a full recovery.

Concussion Recovery Program

Patients who enroll in our Concussion Recovery Program meet with Dr. Fotuhi, or his physician assistant, Ms. Emily Burg. They then undergo a thorough neurocognitive assessment; this 2-hour testing reveals which parts of a patient’s brain working are working optimally and which parts have been damaged and do not function well. Patients also undergo a qEEG brain mapping assessment; this 45-minute testing reveals the pattern of electrical activity levels in various regions in the brain by way of small sensors. The qEEG results also show which parts of the patient’s brain are working optimally and which parts fall outside the normal pattern (as compared to EEG pattern from a normal population). The full assessment of a patient also includes responses to a series questionnaires that indexes the nature and severity of 35 different concussion symptoms.

Dr. Fotuhi or his assistant then combine all this information along with other test results and a patient’s medical history and neurological exam finding to tailor a specific set of treatment recommendations. Patients then begin their brain rehabilitation process by coming to our brain center twice weekly, for 90-minutes each time. They receive a combination of EEG-based neurofeedback (for 45 minutes) and brain coaching (for 45 minutes).

During one-on-one visits with brain coaches (who serve as both a brain training coach and also a life coach), patients are trained to and encouraged to improve their exercise, diet, sleep, stress management and time management. They are also directed to engage in computer-based brain training programs chosen by Dr. Fotuhi. The brain games are selected to target improving the specific parts of the brain that are affected by a patient’s concussion, and be engaging so that they will enjoy the process.

If some symptoms related to their concussion are too severe, such as excessive anxiety, headache, depression and/or neck pain, pharmacological treatment may be provided as well – though the goal of the program is to minimize use of medications as much as possible.

Patients are evaluated halfway through the program and again at the end, with both qEEG and neurocognitive testing to monitor their progress and make any changes necessary in their brain training protocols to ensure that patients are on the way to becoming more confident and competent in their cognitive functioning.

Patients who complete the NeuroGrow Concussion Recovery Program experience remarkable improvements in their concussions symptoms compared. In fact, 89% of these patients improve their scores on standardized neurocognitive evaluations. They can think better, sleep better, and feel better in a matter of three months.

If you are interested to learn more about what happens to the brain in post-concussion syndrome and how NeuroGrow concussion recovery program help to heal the brain, please visit NeuroGrow.com.

This blog was written by Mrs. Courtney Cosby and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

What is Brain Coaching?

We have all heard of the term “coaching.” Coaching refers to a form of learning where a person, or the coach, helps someone else to develop new thinking, self-development, create learning and promote focused action in ways that benefit them. It is often associated with sports or physical fitness. Brain coaching is not terribly different.

The truth is, the brain needs regular fitness – or exercise – to stay healthy. Just as any person might have trouble running a marathon after being idle for several years, their brain might have difficulty learning something new if a person has failed to keep his or her brain in good shape. Brain fitness can make a huge difference between staying lucid and being unable to remember your home address when you are in advanced years of age.

Just as people have personal trainers to keep their bodies physically fit, brain coaches exist to help keep people’s minds sharp.

Brain coaching is an approach rooted in neuroscience, which is the study of the brain and the nervous system. Putting the latest insights on how the brain works, brain coaching amplifies the practices and principles of coaching to make them more powerful, transformational and positive for the person being coached.

Brain coaching involves one-on-one sessions with devoted and well-trained advocates who work with you to find the best ways to enhance your brain and its many different functions. A brain coach can help you to enhance your memory, think faster, solve problems more effectively as well as encouraging you to eat better, exercise more, and stress less. He/she will be like a cheerleader who excites you to learn how you can boost your brain performance, and then assisting you – step by step – to get there.

Just like your heart, your skin, and your knees are different body parts that can age slower or faster depending on your lifestyle choices and how well you take care of them, your brain is an organ that can age slower or faster depending on your lifestyle choices and how well you take care of it. The results of fast aging brain is memory loss, sluggish thinking, and lack of zest for life – in your 40s and 50s – and early dementia in your 60s and 70s. At NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center, our brain coaches employ neuroscience-based strategies that are shown to be effective for improving the biology of your brain so that it stays sharp and strong at any age.

Based on our published research in respected peer-reviewed scientific journals, our brain coaching has proven to help patients gain better memory, better executive function, and better sleep. Their scores on neurocognitive evaluation demonstrate marked improvements in specific aspects of their performance.

Brain Coaching Benefits

Just like regular physical exercise improves the fitness of your heart and make you feel stronger when you have to climb stairs, brain coaching improves the fitness of your brain your brain so that you can function better at home and at work. Brain coaching helps you remember things like to-do lists and names more easily as well as improve communication skills by enabling you to find the best words to communicate most effectively. Some forms of brain training can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 29 percent.

Brain Neuroplasticity and Brain Coaching

Brain Coaching works because of the neuroplasticity that exists in the human brain. Amazingly, the human brain has the capacity to grow over time, resulting in the ability to add new synapses between neurons. You can even grow and incorporate new brain cells, rearrange the layout of your cortex (the part of your brain for complex thinking capacity), expand blood circulation, and even increase your processing capacity.

With brain coaching, you can change your brain’s structure, helping it to grow with daily exercise. Targeted brain games, that are designed specifically for you based on the results of your baseline cognitive testing, can help you to transform your brain.

NeuroGrow Brain Coaching

Our brain coaching is part of our brain fitness program, which consists of a comprehensive brain health assessment followed by a series of specific interventions that have been designed to optimize your overall cognitive performance and brain health. It has been shown to produce remarkable results in those with mild cognitive impairment, memory loss, and post-concussive syndrome.

Patients initially undergo a neurological evaluation to determine the reversible causes for brain atrophy and cognitive deficits, followed by a few tests. Then treatment sessions take place to help enhance their cognitive function, improve their sleep and reduce their stress, to name a few benefits.

From meditation training to nutrition information and tailored brain training and neurofeedback, our brain fitness program strives to help patients achieve their desired peak brain performance – based on their personal goals and the results of their baseline testing (which shows their strengths and weaknesses).

NeuroGrow Brain Coaches

The brain coaches at NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center have expertise in neuroscience and are trained by Dr. Majid Fotuhi, who is a nationally recognized author in the field of brain performance and neuroplasticity. Dr. Fotuhi has 25 years of research, clinical work and neuroscience teaching under his belt at Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins, in addition to his literature published in scientific peer-reviewed articles. All coaches also must complete Dr. Fotuhi’s one month training and 5 hour certification exams in order to have the honor of working with patients.

Having a brain coach as a personal trainer reaps many benefits. It can be difficult to stay on track with change and growth if you do it solo. By attending regular appointments with a brain coach, you are more likely to stay on track and push yourself harder, reaping the amazing benefits of results.

If you would like to improve your brain performance or learn more about our Brain Fitness Program or brain coaching, please visit NeuroGrow.com.

This article was written by Ms. Courtney Cosby and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

ADD vs ADHD and the Different Types of ADHD

    

 

ADD and ADHD – do the two terms mean the same thing or not? The short answer is yes and no.

In one way, the two are the same. ADD, or attention deficit disorder, was the term people used to define a person’s inability to focus for a long time.

The DSM-5, or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (a resource that mental health professionals use), was updated in 2013, updating the diagnostic criteria for determining someone has ADHD, while the term ADD disappeared. ADHD is currently characterized by an ongoing struggle with inattentiveness and hyperactivity as well as impulsivity, which interferes with daily functioning and/or normal development. Some mental health professionals still use the names interchangeably.

On the other hand, ADD isn’t the same because the term was used to describe a person who struggled with focus but was did not battle hyperactivity.

The name of this type of condition changed before as well:

  • In 1968, the DSM-2 was published and the condition was then called Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood, which had an emphasis on high levels of movement and activity.
  • In 1980, the DSM-3 was published and shifted the focus to impulsivity, inattention and hyperactivity, while giving the disorder one of two names: Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity or Attention Deficit Disorder without Hyperactivity.
  • In 1994, the DSM-3-R removed the diagnosis of “ADD without hyperactivity” and added in the term ADHD.
  • Later in 1994, the DSM-4 was released with three subtypes of ADHD, including “predominantly inattentive,” “predominantly hyperactive-impulsive” and “combined,” as well as “not otherwise specified.

One major difference with the DSM-5’s change in 2013 was the criteria for diagnosing ADHD. According to the APA, how and when symptoms manifest make a difference because ADHD presents itself differently in kids and adults.

Additionally, it was previously considered that for a diagnosis of ADHD to be made, a “clinically significant” severity must be present but now symptoms are considered if the quality of life is reduced at home, work, school or in social settings.

ADHD can also now be diagnosed in multiple categories, such as mild, moderate or severe. If symptoms are reduced enough, it can also be considered to be in partial remission.

Recent studies have shown that patients with ADHD have smaller brain volume, especially in brain areas that are critical for attention, being organized, controlling your behavior, and planning for the future (frontal lobes).

As a result of these variations in the brains, children and adults with ADHD also commonly suffer from anxiety, stress, irritability, and personal conflicts.

Types of ADHD Today

According to the DSM-5, there remain three different types of ADHD. But what do they all mean?

Inattentive

Inattentive ADHD lines up most with the age-old term, ADD. A person with this level of ADHD might feel an inability to focus, spacey or distracted without symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity.

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive

People with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD experience symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity more so than inattention. These people may be characterized as constantly moving or fidgety. They usually think after they act and seem to be hyper.

Combined

This type of ADHD is characterized by all three symptoms: inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the majority of children with ADHD have this type.

How ADHD is Treated

 

ADHD has no cure but the symptoms can be managed. Treatment options can be found along several different avenues, each of which focus on improving one’s quality of life on a personal, professional and or academic level.

Treatment options for ADHD include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Behavior therapy
  • Support groups
  • Stimulant medications, such as central nervous system stimulants to help with concentration and focus, including Concerta, Adderall, Dyanavel, Vyvanse, etc.)
  • Non-stimulant medications, such as Strattera, Clonidine, Guanfacine and Atomoxetine
  • Neurofeedback

ADHD is a common problem that can be treated. To learn more about ADHD and how you or your loved one can receive help, see how the professionals at NeuroGrow.com can help treat ADD and ADHD without medications – with a combination of Neurorfeedback and Brain Coaching.

 

 

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This blog was written by Ms. Courtney Cosby, and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

 

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is an interactive, non-invasive, fun and medication-free form of treatment that helps patients to strengthen and retrain their brains to be healthier and more focused. It is ideal for people who struggle with symptoms of ADHD, insomnia, anxiety or memory loss.

 

The brain needs to be in perfect balance in order to function properly. When a person experiences symptoms such as difficulty paying attention, insomnia or anxiety, it has to do with oscillations within the brain, which may move faster or slower than usual, depending on activity and experience. 

There are five types of brain wave patterns. They include:

  • Delta brain waves, which are very slow and occur mostly during sleep.
  • Theta brain waves, which are slow and occur during relaxation, daydreaming and twilight states.
  • Alpha brain waves, which occur during relaxed states.
  • SMR or sensorimotor rhythm brain waves, which occur during periods of focused relaxation.
  • Beta brain waves, which are fast and are associated with concentration and mental work.

These brain pathways can be altered with neurofeedback, helping patients to not only experience positive change in mood, sleep and memory but also to maintain those changes.

How does Neurofeedback Work?

Step 1: The first step involves learning about the brain while seeing what a person’s brain activity looks like. This is determined by placing a series of sensors that are imbedded in a cap on top of a patient’s head in order to measure brain activity. This gives us an overview of how the brain works, telling us if a person has too much fast or slow activity or if their brain is not harmonized enough. This information is captured by a quantitative EEG (electroencephalogram or qEEG), or what is known as brain mapping.

A qEEG helps doctors to see how brain cells communicate with each other. It can also help by enabling doctors to:

  • Show how brain wave patterns can be improved.
  • Identifying psychiatric and cognitive problems.
  • Tracking progress with various treatments and therapies.
  • Predicting medication response, such as how a patient is likely to respond to a specific type of treatment, such as antidepressant medications.
  • Providing objective information to create a personalized neurofeedback therapy program to strengthen the brain.

 

Step 2: The second step is where the fun begins and a patient’s brainwaves can be upgraded. If part of the brain is determined to be too fast, one may be anxious, unable to focus or unable to sleep at night. If it is too slow, a person might feel sluggish. EEG-based neurofeedback enables doctors, like us, to help the brain to learn to optimize itself or its activity – much like a person’s brain is optimized when he or she learns to play the piano or ride a bike.

We use a method called operant conditioning to help patients’ brains improve activity. During this process, sensors are placed on a patient’s head while connecting them to a TV screen. A movie is turned on that the patient enjoys and the brain is recorded by the sensors as they watch. The sensors then control the screen.

If the brain activity is where it needs to be, the movie continues to play without interruption; however, if the brain activity reaches a point where it should not be, the movie then fades. When the movie fades, the brain eventually figures out which part of the brain needs to go up or down in order to achieve a positive result, thus responding appropriately. Once the brain waves are adjusted to where they need to be, the movie resumes. The cycle continues.

How Long does a Neurofeedback Session Last?

Five minutes of this is not long enough, just as a person who is learning to play piano or ride a bicycle does not master it after just five minutes of practice. Our patients do this for 45 minutes at a time to reach an optimized level of brain activity. Neurofeedback sessions are recommended to take place anywhere from 20 to 60 times, depending on each individual’s needs. Each time the brain gets a little better, and over time the changes last a little longer. Once the course of activity is completed, patients are able to be calmer, more focused and to sleep better.

Studies have proven that neurofeedback improves attention, mood and sleep. Brain MRIs before feedback and after 3 months of feedback have also evidenced brain growth, which is positive. This is one reason the benefits of neurofeedback last for months to years.

Many things can grow the brain, such as exercising or learning new things. Neurofeedback is one tool for growing the brain effectively, including parts of the brain responsible for attention, focus and sleep.

To learn more about how neurofeedback can help you or a loved one who suffers from symptoms of ADHD, insomnia, anxiety or memory loss, contact us at NeuroGrow.com.

4 Brain Exercises that Improve Memory

We don’t only lose muscle over time. Our brains also atrophy, or waste away. This can adversely affect your brain’s cognitive reserve, or its ability to tolerate neurological damage associated with aging and other factors without increased evidence of memory loss or slowing, can diminish over the years too. This can make it harder to work through mental tasks. The good news is researchers have found that following a lifestyle that is brain-healthy and by performing brain exercises on a regular basis, you can increase your cognitive reserve in your brain.

A Note about Smartphone-Based Brain Games

Many people buy into smartphone-based brain games because they tout brain-boosting benefits. But do the effects of using these programs actually measure up to their claims? The truth is, the majority of those brain apps teach your brain to get good at working through tasks in the apps and only those apps. The mental fitness fails to apply to any other areas of our lives.

Why You Need Concrete Brain Exercises

It is important that you do brain fitness exercises that improve your ability to focus and/or to associate so that you are better able to focus, such as a brain fitness routine that enables you to exercise your brain on both an abstract level as well as to direct the fitness routine at goals that will help to improve your life. These specific goals should help you to attain specific goals and to avoid cognitive decline.

4 Brain Exercises for Improving Memory

If you want to improve your memory while giving yourself a fantastic mental workout, try any of these brain exercises, as shared by Magnetic Memory Method:

Number Brain Exercises that Improve Concentration

When it comes to improving your cognitive abilities, numeracy is essential, helping to boost logical thinking.

Try this brain activity: “Add 3 minus 7.” What you do is choose any 3-digit number then add 3 to that digit three different times. Then subtract 7 from that new number 7 times.

Repeat this process at least 5 times, picking a new 3-digit number each time. You can also use a different number of variables, such as starting with a 4-digit number.

The 4-Details Observation Exercise

Find four details about people you encounter in public. For example, a person is wearing a blue hat, has brown hair, is wearing a red shirt and has on brown shoes.

The goal of this exercise is to first observe the details then later recall them.

This type of exercise is often referred by scientists to as “passive memory training.”

These exercises are considered to be passive because you don’t use any special memory techniques, such as mnemonics. Instead you simply ask your brain to do exactly what it was created to do, which is to remember.

Try observing just one person per day to begin with. Once you feel like you have gotten better at recalling four details at a time, add more information or people!

Repeat and Recall What People Say

Train your brain to focus on what people around you say and remember everything they have said.

Start by creating presence in a moment by following the words a person says to you by repeating them in your mind. Repeat everything they are saying silently in your mind. This is a brain exercise that helps to boost your cognitive function while enabling your brain to remember more.

Metronome Clapping Exercise

Turn a metronome on at a slow speed and practice “covering the click.” This is a neurobic exercise that can help you to focus on something your brain has been automated to do. This increase in focus helps you to focus more on your surroundings while boosting your memory skills.

For more tips on how to improve your memory with brain exercises, please check out the brain fitness program at NeuroGrow.com.

Research Shows that Teaching People to Control Their Brainwaves may Increase Attention

Research Shows that Teaching People to Control Their Brainwaves may Increase Attention

If you are having trouble paying attention, you are not alone. According to a 2010 study, many of us spend almost 47 percent of our waking hours focusing on or thinking about something other than what we are actually intending to do. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) neuroscientists might have unveiled a solution to help.

Neuroscientist researchers at MIT have found that people suffering from attention difficulty can actually enhance their attention and focus by controlling their alpha brain waves as a result of neurofeedback when performing a specific task.

Subjects during the study were able to learn how to suppress their alpha waves in on hemisphere of the parietal cortex. As a result, they were able to pay better attention to objects that were on the other side of their field of vision. This was the first evidence found of a cause and effect relationship of this kind has been seen, suggesting that people might be able to use neurofeedback to improve their attention.

Neurofeedback has piqued the interest of many people interested in those trying to help people with behavioral problems and brain disorders, according to the director of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Robert Desimone. Desimone asserts that this method is entirely noninvasive and is helpful in testing and controlling the role of various aspects of brain activity.

It does remain, however, whether these effects are lasting or if this type of control can be attained by way of other kinds of brain waves, including beta waves, which have been linked with Parkinson’s Disease. Researchers at MIT now plan to do further studies to determine whether neurofeedback of this kind will benefit those suffering from attentional disorders or other types of neurological problems.

Attention and Alpha Waves

The brain is comprised of millions of electrical signals and neurons that bring forth oscillations, or brain waves. Alpha waves are at type of oscillation, which oscillate in the frequency of about 8 to 12 hertz. They are believed to play an active part in filtering out sensory information that is distracting.

There has been previous research regarding the correlation between alpha brain waves and attention – especially where the parietal cortex is concerned. A lowered level of alpha waves has been connected with heightened or enhanced attention. It is however unclear whether the alpha waves themselves pay an immediate role in the change in attention or are simply a byproduct of another process that directly controls attention.

The researchers at MIT thus performed an experiment to determine whether or not alpha waves play a part in regulating attention. Participants were given real-time feedback on their individual alpha waves while performing a specific task. Participants were asked to look at a pattern in the middle of a screen while using mental efforts to make the pattern more visible while looking at it by increasing the contrast.

Subjects were scanned during the task with magnetoencephalography (MEG), which is useful in revealing brain activity with great precision. Researchers measured the alpha levels in both hemispheres of the parietal cortex, calculating asymmetry between both levels. As asymmetry degrees grew between both hemispheres, the grating pattern was more visible, delivering real-time feedback to participants.

Despite the fact that participants were not told anything about what was going on during the trial, after about 10 minutes or 20 trials, participants were able to increase the contrast of the pattern themselves. The results of the MEG showed that they had done this by controlling their alpha wave asymmetry.

Once the experiment was complete, participants stated that they knew they were controlling the contrast on the screen but were unsure of how they accomplished it.

Although the subjects were not fully aware of how they manipulated their brain waves, they did so and their success resulted in an enhanced level of attention on the opposing side of their visual field. When the subjects looked at the center of the screen, researchers flashed dots of light on either side. The participants were previously told to ignore these flashes but the researchers took note of how the visual cortex of each subject responded to the dots.

One group of subjects was taught how to suppress alpha waves in the left hemisphere while the other was taught to suppress those in the right side. Those who had reduced alpha waves on the left side showed a larger response to light flashes on the right side, while those who were trained to reduce alpha waves on the right side responded more to those seen in the left side of the screen.

Desimone shared that alpha manipulation was essentially controlling the attention of participants although they did not fully understand how they were doing it.

Once the neurofeedback training session had ended, researchers asked subjects to execute two more tasks involving attention. They found that the enhanced level of attention continued into these tasks. Desimone asserted that it is promising that the effects of the training persisted afterwards, suggesting that the boosting of attention and focus can be lasting.

This content was inspired by the following article. For more information, please see the cited source.

 

Water Your Brain!

Dehydration can cause some serious negative effects on parts of the body, and the brain is no exception. When you don’t drink enough throughout the day your brain functions at a lower level.

Whether we’re just busy, lazy, or simply thinking we are drinking enough, a lot of people probably aren’t getting the right amount of water for their body and brain to function at its highest potential.  

According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, even just 2% dehydration takes a toll on our brain function. Here are a few symptoms you may experience when you are not as hydrated as you should be:

  • Memory loss
  • Poor focus and Attention
  • Slow processing of information
  • Irritability
  • Headaches

Dr. Caroline Edmonds and her team performed a study testing the affects of dehydration on brain performance and mood. They found that those who drank water before performing a cognitive test had 14% increased reaction time compared to those who did not drink water. In addition to their decreased cognitive performance, those who were dehydrated reported being more confused and tense than those who drank water.

So, how much water should you be drinking a day to make sure your brain can function well? You may have heard that 8 cups of water a day is the golden standard. New research from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), however, suggests that the average woman should be drinking about 74 ounces or about 9 cups per day, and the average man should be drinking about 101 ounces or about 13 cups per day.

According to the Mayo Clinic, infants and children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, and people who work or exercise outside are at greater risk of dehydration and should take extra caution to make sure they are getting enough fluids each day.

As we head into the winter months, it’s easy to think we are safe from dehydration since sweating in the sun is no longer a source of concern for us. Don’t let this stop you from being conscious about your water intake! It is especially important to be aware of your water consumption when you are working out. Sweating empties your body of some of its water, so it’s vital that you drink more when you are exercising. The more vigorous the workout, the more you should drink as well.

Here are some tips for reaching your water quota each day:

  • Use a bottle that shows the ounces on the side to help you keep track, and write it down throughout the day, so you don’t forget what number you are at after refills
  • If you get bored of just plain water, then add lemon or herbs to change up the flavor
  • Foods like watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes and soups can be good sources of fluid too
  • Avoid sugary drinks and foods that are high in sodium

So, make sure that you listen to your body and recognize when you are feeling a little foggy, slower in processing, feel a headache coming on, or having trouble with your memory. If you are, then maybe that’s your body telling you it’s time to take a few gulps!

If you are interested in learning more about more ways to boost your brain function, visit neurogrow.com to get information about our Brain Fitness Program!

This blog was written by the lead Brain Coach at NeuroGrow, Ms. Emily Scott, and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.

How Sleep Deprivation Really Affects Your Brain and Mental Clarity

Many of us feel off our mental game and distracted after a bad night of sleep. This is because a lot of necessary maintenance goes on while we rest our eyes at night. Losing sleep prevents this important work. If you pride yourself in running on little sleep (or even if you don’t), this article is for you. Two recent studies shed light onto the impact that sleep loss has on our thinking skills as well as our brain’s ability to eliminate unwanted waste.

Lack of Sleep and Cognition

One study, which took place by researchers at Michigan State University, found that sleep deprivation comes with considerable risks – especially when it comes to placekeeping. Placekeeping is defined as the ability to complete a series of steps or procedures without losing one’s place, despite any possible interruptions.

Before the study began, all of the participants were rested. Then the participants were separated into groups: 77 people were to stay awake all night long in the lab while 63 were allowed to go home and sleep normally.

The next day, the researchers executed tests of attention, by way of the Psychomotor Vigilance Task, as well as tests of cognition through the UNRAVEL method, which requires participants to keep track of a series of steps despite periodic interruptions. These tests were given in the evening as well as again the morning after.

The participants who did not get adequate sleep did much worse on the tests than those who were rested. The evening prior, a 15% error rate after interruptions was found on average with the UNRAVEL test. The next morning it rose to 30%. But the rested group performed about the same during both periods of testing. The group that was sleep deprived also had more attention lapses the following morning in comparison to the group that was rested.

The researchers stated that their findings showed that lack of sleep doubles the odds of errors in placekeeping and triples attention lapses. This evidence shows the startling need for those who are sleep-deprived to exercise caution. Costly errors may occur if they don’t.

Lack of Sleep and Risk of Neurological Disorder Risk

Everyone knows that a good night’s sleep is good for you, but what would you say if you found out sleep could help prevent Alzheimer’s? Or how about that people with sleeping problems develop Alzheimer’s more often than those who don’t?

According to a recent study published in the journal  , deep sleep actually helps clear the brain of toxins that cause Alzheimer’s! But how does it work? Well, when you are in a state of deep sleep blood flow to your brain is decreased slightly. This allows another fluid present in the brain, known as cerebrospinal fluid, to have more room when it flows through your brain. More room for this cerebrospinal fluid means it has an easier time flushing out the toxins and other waste products in your brain. Want to learn more about this interesting process and how sleep can affect a healthy brain? Keep reading to find out!

Researchers used cutting-edge MRI technology to monitor and study the brains of 11 people. One author of the article, Laura Lewis (assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering at the University of Boston), says that about every 20 seconds while you are in a state of deep sleep, a slow, large wave of cerebrospinal fluid washes through your brain and cleans out whatever toxins and waste may have been left behind during the day. If you’d like to see what this wave of fluids looks like in the brain, check out the video clip in this article. Other scans of the brains show a wave of electricity in the neurons of the brain right before the cerebrospinal fluid washes the brain out. Interestingly, this type of brain wave is a common type that only occurs when the brain enters a state of deep sleep. To connect this back to Alzheimer’s, those with the disease actually have less of these waves occurring in their brains as well as shorter waves. Because of this their brain is not getting the wash that it needs.

The specific toxin that causes Alzheimer’s in the brain is called beta-amyloid. This toxin accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s and has some very awful effects on the brain. The build-up of the beta-amyloid in the brain will cause less sleep and because the person is getting less sleep, more beta-amyloid gets built up within the brain. Thus, because the brain is not getting its necessary rest, it does not have the opportunity to wash out the beta-amyloid toxins by using waves of the cerebrospinal fluid. Essentially, the brain gets clogged with gunk that stops it from cleaning itself out while you sleep and because your brain isn’t cleaning itself, more gunk gets stuck in your brain.

Of course, a lack of sleep or problems with sleeping is not the only cause of Alzheimer’s. There are lots of other causes but the research done for this journal has helped possibly identify and isolate one of the causes of it.

Tips for Getting Better Sleep

Although controlling the factors that interfere with your sleep may be difficult, you can adopt new habits that encourage a better night of sleep so you can better improve your cognitive function and decrease risk of neurological disease:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule, aiming for 8 hours of sleep at night.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry or full. Going to bed hungry might keep you up. Consider grabbing a light snack but try to avoid large or heavy meals within a couple hours before bedtime.
  • Use caution with alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, as each of these can adversely impact sleep.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine.
  • Power down your phone, tablet, or computer, and other lights at least an hour before your bedtime.
  • Find ways to de-stress before you sleep.

If you’d like to learn more about other ways that sleeping can affect the brain or how to improve your overall brain health, please visit our website at NeuroGrow. 

 

Here is How Sugar Affects Your Brain

Have you ever wondered why some people love sugar so much? Or why some people cannot seem to go a day without eating candy bars or other sugary snacks? Maybe you’ve wondered why it feels like you’re hardwired to want all those sugary treats. Well, the answer actually lies within our brains.

But first, her is a short history lesson about our brains and sugar. According to an article published by Live Science, when ancient humans were walking the Earth they ate diets that were very rich in glucose, a type of simple sugar that is commonly found in everyday diet. Sugar gives fruits their sweet and tangy taste. Glucose is also an excellent energy source for all forms of life, including our ancient ancestors.

The reward system of our brain (known as mesolimbic dopamine system) is activated when we enjoy an experience such as kissing someone we love, feeling warm when it is cold outside, or eating a delicious meal.  It releases the brain chemical messenger known as dopamine. Dopamine is our brain’s way of telling us that an event is positive. Therefore, every time our ancient ancestors had a bite of a fruit, their brains would release dopamine as a way to let them know it was a good thing and to eat more. This reward system is the reason you always want more than one bite of cake at a birthday party. It’s also the reason why you might start craving a donut or candy bar just by looking at it. Your brain associates the sweet treats with dopamine release and essentially wants you to eat them so the dopamine gets released.

So if our brains love sugar and even reward us for eating it, then surely it cannot be as bad for us as people say, right? Well, not exactly. This article, by Live Science, shows that sugar is not bad for you but it also isn’t good for you either. Sugar itself does not contain any vital nutrients for our bodies so foods like candy bars and drinks like soda that are calorically dense only provide empty calories and negatively affect our health if they are consumed in great amounts. Indeed, as many of us know, sugar is not the best thing for our bodies. Having too much sugar in your diet can lead to many health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

There is one more problem with sugar. The more you eat sugary food, the more you become addicted to them and the more you crave them. Usually, the logical “control system” in the front of our brain gets activated when we eat too much, which orders us to stop eating. However, when the dopamine “reward system” gets dosed up with sugar, it overrides this logical part of our brain. The result is that you eat more sugary stuff, even though you know very well excessive consumption of sugar is bad for your health. And the more obese you get, the more the reward system of your brain gets in control of dictating your eating sugary foods. 

There is one more problem with sugar. The more you eat sugary food, the more you become addicted to them and the more you crave them. Usually, the logical “control system” in the front of our brain gets activated when we eat too much, which orders us to stop eating. However, when the dopamine “reward system” gets dosed up with sugar, it overrides this logical part of our brain. The result is that you eat more sugary stuff, even though you know very well excessive consumption of sugar is bad for your health. And the more obese you get, the more the reward system of your brain gets in control of dictating your eating sugary foods. 

So, is there a way to resist your brain when it tells you “one more slice of cake”? Of course, there is. Simply put, you need to work on super-charging the logical part of your brain before you are exposed to food and get ready for the upcoming temptations. You train yourself to avoid eating more than one serving of the sweet deserts. When you see the slice of cake, you have been warned and prepared already. Picture yourself being getting more addicted if you keep eating sugary treats and walk away without getting a second serving.  Quitting sugar addiction is very similar to quitting alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs.

Here are some ways you can wean yourself off sugar addiction:

  1. Limit your sugar intake to about 25 grams per day, as recommended by the World Health Organization.
  2. Check nutrition facts on deserts as they may contain surprising amounts of sugar.
  3. Eat more fresh fruits as they contain less pure sugar and more of the necessary nutrients for your brain and your body.
  4. Totally stay away from food and drinks that are high in sugar content (like candy bars, sweetened sodas, and cookies).

           

To learn more about what food items are best for improving your brain fitness, please visit our website at NeuroGrow.com

Everything You Need to Know About qEEG Testing

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

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).

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

What Brain Fitness Does for Mental Health

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.

Stay Positive: Reducing Depression Symptoms Through Neurofeedback

Combat Depression With Neurofeedback

322 million people worldwide suffer from depression and more women are affected than men.

 Common signs of depression are:

  • Persistent sad or blue mood,
  • Feelings of hopelessness, 
  • Feeling negative about yourself, e.g. a sense of worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in things or people you love,
  • Fatigue, which is an often overlooked sign of depression,
  • Memory issues,
  • Difficulty in making relatively simple decisions, and 
  • Restlessness, anxiety, or irritability.

If you have 2-3 of the symptoms above for more than 2-3 weeks, you need to talk with your doctor about them or see a psychiatrist.  If you have thoughts of suicide, you should immediately call a suicide hotline; they can help you get the resources you need.

If you have mild depression symptoms (without the thoughts of harming yourself or others), and if you prefer to avoid medications, there are a few treatment options you can consider. These include transcranial magnetic stimulation, meditation, vigorous exercise, taking omega-3 fatty acids, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and a form of biofeedback – called neurofeedback.  These interventions, especially when combined, can reduce the toll of sadness and anxiety on your mind.

Treatment for Depression

The first step in treating depression is a comprehensive assessment of your physical and mental health. Vitamin deficiency, thyroid problems, and poor sleep – all of which are treatable – can be contributing to your sadness and/or anxiety.  

When most people think about depression, they think about taking a pill. For some this may be part of the solution; however, given the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs, many people are also interested in non-medications alternatives. For example, Mediterranean diet combined with exercise can help with improving your mood.  

We all know that the better we eat, and move, the better we feel.

Exercise is a powerful tool that can be used to treat depression. Physical activity stimulates the endorphins in our brains and gives you a sense of well being. Part of your treatment may include a structured exercise plan developed by an exercise physiologist. Exercise is known to boost mood, improve memory, and increase cognitive function.

Talk therapy is also beneficial and can help you address underlying issues or other life challenges that contribute to your symptoms.

Research on neurofeedback is showing it can also be a helpful tool to treat depression. The benefit, much like exercise and talk therapy, and in the hands of a skilled practitioner has little to no side effects.

How Neurofeedback For Depression Works

Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback. Biofeedback is a method to learn to control the actions of your mind or body. Try this exercise, place your fingers on your wrist and feel your heartbeat.

Now, start to slow down your breath and relax. (You may need to do this for several minutes.) Did you notice a change in your heart rate? That is biofeedback.

In Neurofeedback, you receive feedback on your brain wave patterns. You receive feedback through visual and audio stimulation. Your brain will learn to replace negative patterns with positive ones. You are re-training your brain, as you would retrain your leg after an injury.

This is not science fiction, but a documented way to change your brain’s pattern of behavior to increase your sense of calm and focus. This process focuses on your brains placidity to improve its function. Plasticity is the ability of your brain’s structure and function to change with time or training.

How Does it Work?

A treatment protocol usually consists of 20-40 sessions. Each session using neurofeedback last about an hour. At that appointment, a technician will place 3-4 tiney sensors (called electrodes) on your head to measure your brain waves via a real-time Electroencephalogram.

You will sit comfortably in front of a television screen and your job is to watch the TV. You get to select what to watch from Netflix. When your brain waves are optimal, you are “rewarded” by having the movie you watch continue without any disruption or dimming. 

When your brain waves are too fast or too slow, the TV screen in front of you dims; this fading of the screen is a signal to your brain (i.e. feedback) to improve its pattern of electrical activity – in order to be rewarded.

So, as the EEG records brain function, the TV screen will dim or flicker intermittently. Your basic desire is to watch the show, so your brain will alter itself to ensure the TV stays lit in a manner optimal for you.

The change in the TV screen is the biofeedback your brain needs to change its function to one of a more positive, relaxed, and focused state. Through this process, your brain “learn” to function better and be rewarded.

During a single neurofeedback session, you may receive up to 1,000 feedback, and as a result your brain begins to change (just like your muscles would start to bulk up with 1,000 push ups).

Several clinical trials, including a study by Dr. Fotuhi and his colleagues have shown that patients with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety benefit greatly from neurofeedback treatment.

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.

Does Neurofeedback Involve Medications or Stimulation? 

This is not a science fiction movie. You will not be required to take any medication, nor will your brain be stimulated in any manner.  The EEG only reads your brain’s electrical patterns; it does not change them, you do. 

How Long Before I See Results?

This is not an easy question to answer. The rate of improvement varies by individual. The more severe symptoms, the longer you should expect before you see optimal results. The usual neurofeedback protocol at NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center is 24 sessions (twice weekly for 12 weeks). 

Keep in mind, you have nothing to do at these sessions. You will watch TV just as you would sitting at home in your living room.  

Will I Have to Do Sessions for the Rest of My Life?

The results of neurofeedback treatment, when done correctly, is often long lasting.  Once your brain is re-trained to an optimal level, you will not have to come back for regular treatments every month.

Your brain will “remember” and function optimally for a long time. Several studies have shown that the benefits persist two years later. 

Some patients, especially those with ongoing sleep, anxiety, or stressful life circumstances, can benefit from “booster” sessions.

Neurofeedback has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions that affect your brain function and performance; these include Post Traumatic Stress, Attention Deficit Disorder, pain management, and addiction.

As with any other medical interventions, best results are obtained by health care professionals who have experience in using neurofeedback to treat specific brain conditions.

Each brain condition is associated with a different brain pattern and therefore needs a specific training neurofeedback program to address it. Obtaining a quantitative EEG (qEEG) helps to tailor a specific protocol for each individual patient.

Still, have questions about whether or not neurofeedback is right for you? Here is a link to commonly asked questions or contact us and we would be happy to answer them for you.

Are You Ready to Address Your Anxiety, Depression, or Insomnia Head On?

There are many treatment options. These brain conditions can be successfully treated with a variety of interventions; neurofeedback is one option that can be used by itself, or it can be combined with other treatments such as meditation, medications, diet, exercise, and/or yoga. 

You may also benefit from seeing a therapist or social worker to improve your stress management skills, stressors in your life, or learn about cognitive behavioral therapy.

At NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center, our team can help you by providing you with a neurofeedback protocol that is designed specifically for you by our neurologist, Dr. Majid Fotuhi. 

You can make an appointment to see him and find out if neurofeedback is the right treatment option for you.

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.

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.

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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