Tag Archives: brain

Is Neurofeedback Becoming Mainstream?

The Wall Street Journal just published an article entitled,  Brain Training for Anxiety, Depression and Other Mental Conditions-Neurofeedback uses real-time scans to teach patients to try to change how they think.

The article, written by Andrea Petersen, is about the many ways that neurofeedback (NF) can help people cope with a variety of issues, such as depression and anxiety.

The type of NF mentioned in the article is different from the one neurofeedbackI use but it is effective nonetheless. “While fMRI neurofeedback is only a few years old, its principles have been around for decades. Doctors and researchers have long used electroencephalograms (EEG), tests that record electrical activity, to perform a version of neurofeedback. The approach is particularly popular as a treatment for ADHD in children.”

bigstock-Brain-profile-made-by-typograp-32324291The type of NF that I do is auditory based and in a much more inviting setting than the one discussed in the article. When a client meets me for a NF session, they sit in a comfortable chair, listen to beautiful music for 33 minutes and they relax. The computer does all of the work.

To learn more about the type of system I use, click on this link and see how neurofeedback and help you.

Is A Walk In The Park Really Going To Help Your Mood?

Yes. Most likely it is going to help. Walking in the park, really can help change your mood for the better.

Whatever you struggle with, parkgoing for a walk in an area that’s filled with trees and foliage, will generally make you feel better. This is particularly true for those of us who live in urban environments. There are studies that compare how the brain responds to a walk in the park and a walk in an industrial area.

One of these studies is featured in a New York Times article by Gretchen Reynolds, entitled, “How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain.”Reynolds writes, “Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.”

“Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, who has been studying the psychological effects of urban living”, conducted the study.

walk“As might have been expected, walking along the highway had not soothed people’s minds. Blood flow to their subgenual prefrontal cortex was still high and their broodiness scores were unchanged.

But the volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on the questionnaire. They were not dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives as much as they had been before the walk.”

“These results ‘strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments” could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers, Mr. Bratman said.'”

Why not conduct your own experiment? bigstock-wood-textured-backgrounds-in-a-37191499Notice how you feel when you go for a walk in your city. What do you hear, smell and see? How do the people you pass seem? Do they look harried and anxious or content and focused?

Now, go to a park. Do you smell and feel that the air is a bit cleaner and clearer? How does the grass feel beneath your feet? What is the light like? What sounds do you hear?

I’d like to know. Tell me, how does a walk in the park change your mood?

Does Food Affect Your Mood?

In an article written by Steve Holt on Takepart.com, Holt explores the ways in which what we eat has a direct influence on how we feel.

Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, a professor at the University of Calgary says that before the turn of the last century, food was used for healing purposes. Some foods are still used today to treat CXL-chicken-soup-recipes-homemade-chicken-soup-de-KYsYVo-97314619common physical ailments. For example, there’s chicken soup for a cold, ginger to relieve a stomach ache and honey to soothe a sore throat. “From around 1950 or so, there was an explosion of research on medications,” she says. “Big pharma took over the treatment of psychiatric illnesses, and we lost centuries of knowledge.”

Not only can food help to heal but it can also affect one’s mood. Notice how you feel after a big meal. Are you tired and listless? After eating a salad for lunch or dinner, with fresh vegetables, whole grains and protein, do you feel lighter and more energized? When you eat food comaprocessed burgers and candy, how do you feel physically and emotionally? Probably not so good. You may get an initial high but you may also experience a dramatic crash. When blood sugar plummets you may crave more of those foods in order to feel energized again. You may notice after eating that you feel up, both physically and psychologically but then you feel low, depressed and tired. It can become a vicious cycle.

“In a 2012 study with colleague Karen M. Davison, Ph.D., R.D., published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, the authors recruited 97 adults diagnosed with a mood disorder to record their diets and moods (how they felt throughout each day) over a three-day period. At the end of the study, Kaplan and Davison found that participants’ vitamin and nutrient intake was “consistently and reliably” associated with better moods and mental health.”

I have found that neurofeedback happy and healthyis even more effective when sleep hygiene is practiced and “cleaner eating” is observed. Ironically, we can be drawn to sugar and caffeine when we are feeling depressed and anxious, however, consuming those substances can perpetuate those feelings. According to the article (and many studies) what we eat can not only affect our bodies but our brains as well.

To learn more about the relationship between food and mood and how neurofeedback and help you feel better, contact me.

 

What is Neurofeedback and How Does it Work?

Mike Cohen of the Center for Brain Training in Florida created an amazing video that explains what neurofeedback (NF) is and how it works. A lot of what Mike says about NF in his video has been my experience as well.

Mike explains, that for children, NF is commonly used for “ADHD, emotional and behavioral issues, learning and development delays and struggles in school. For adults, it’s generally used for anxiety, depression, obsessing and sleep problems. I love when Mike says, “With NF, the brain changes itself.” That’s exactly what happens. We use the tools that we already have in order to become better. Here’s Mike’s video.

 

The video also addresses the fact that yes, NF helps with problems, but it also helps with performance. Valdeane Brown, Ph.D., is the Founder, Director and President of the Zengar Institute and the creator of the system that I use, NeurOptimal®. He is an avid golf player. Shortly after taking up the game, Val was rated the most improved player. He believes this is due to his ability to return to the present moment and allow his brain to do what it had being learning to do- via NF trainings. He said that swinging the club just right, to get the ball to go just where he wanted it to go, was no easy task. Val found that with his own game (and the games of the athletes whom he trains) he was able to be in the game and not in his head. What a wonderful metaphor. To be able to concentrate on any task and not be stuck in one’s head, is a much easier (and more productive) way to go through life. Here’s a video of Val discussing golf and NeurOptimal®.

Much of what Mike discusses in his video is similar to my experience with NF but there are also some differences. The differences are in the systems that we use. With Mike’s system (and most NF systems), certain parts of the brain are being stimulated, while other parts are hindered. This can create side effects. With NeurOptimal®, the brain is simply interacting adaptively with itself moment by moment, not striving to produce “more” of some frequency and “less” of another according to an outside “expert”. Additionally, Mike uses tests to find out what is “wrong with the client.” With NeurOptimal®, there is no need for outside tests to “diagnose what’s wrong” or “what the central nervous system (CNS) needs”. You can simply allow the CNS to receive the pure information about itself — untainted by the beliefs of the trainer — and the brain organizes on its own. This is what the CNS is designed to do and NeurOptimal® is designed to rely on this inherent intelligence of the brain. As a result, the NeurOptimal® process is perfectly, effortlessly, natural. And this is true no matter what the problem is — even if there was a significant developmental delay or injury as far back as birth or even earlier. Every brain has the potential to optimize itself, if given the right information.

For more information about how NeurOptimal® can help you, feel free to contact me.

The Not-So-Hidden Cause Behind the A.D.H.D. Epidemic

Maggie Koerth-Baker wrote an article in the New York Times Magazine section this week entitled, The Not So Hidden Cause Behind the A.D.H.D. Epidemic. 

images-2Recently people who were prescribed low dose, generic medications, used to treat A.D.H.D., found that the drugs they used to were hard to find.  Because the number of diagnoses of A.D.D./A.D.H.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) has increased in both children and adults, the demand was greater than the supply. Ms. Koerth-Baker writes:

“Between the fall of 2011 and the spring of 2012, people across the United States suddenly found themselves unable to get their hands on A.D.H.D. medication. Low-dose generics were particularly in short supply.” Koerth-Baker goes on to write, “The number of diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has ballooned over the past few decades. Before the early 1990s, fewer than 5 percent of school-age kids were thought to have A.D.H.D. Earlier this year, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 had at some point received the diagnosis — and that doesn’t even include first-time diagnoses in adults.”

UnknownThe article mentions that rates of A.D.D./A.D.H.D. vary not only by state but by country as well. A study that compares the number of children with the diagnosis in this country as compared to those in Britain, shows that “In 2003, when nearly 8 percent of American kids had been given a diagnosis of A.D.H.D., only about 2 percent of children in Britain had. According to the British National Health Service, the estimate of kids affected by A.D.H.D. there is now as high as 5 percent.”

images-3Peter Conrad who is a leading researcher in the spread of A.D.H.D. diagnosis rates, believes that the difference lies in the definition. In this country, we use the D.S.M. (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). In Europe, the I.C.D. (International Classification of Diseases) is used and their guidelines are “much stricter” for diagnoses.

Another reason for the increased diagnosis in children from this country is due to the fact that “American childhood drastically changed. Even at the grade-school level, kids now have more homework, less recess and a lot less unstructured free time to relax and play.” When kids are unable to move their bodies or use their brains to play and not work, they are unable to relax and thrive. One way to help kids do this, is to allow more time for unstructured amusements, including making art- painting, drawing, imagining, etc…

images-4Another way to calm over stimulated minds and bodies so that they can grow and flourish is by having neurofeedback training. The system I use, NeurOptimal®, trains the brain to be more flexible and to perform optimally. To learn more about NeurOptimal®, click on the link. To discuss how neurofeedback can help you or your child feel calmer, more focused and relaxed, contact me, here.

How To Quell Negative Thoughts

On February 12, 2013, Dr. James Doty hosted Eckhart Tolle at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Dr. Doty is a neurosurgeon. On his academic profile he writes, “More recently, my interests revolve around understanding the neural, social and mental bases of compassion and altruism using a multi-disciplinary approach.” Tolle is described on his website as, “… a spiritual teacher and author who was born in Germany and educated at the Universities of London and Cambridge. At the age of 29, a profound inner transformation radically changed the course of his life. The next few years were devoted to understanding, integrating and deepening that transformation, which marked the beginning of an intense inward journey.”

 

 

I was drawn to this talk because of my interest in the brain, specifically, the central nervous system and the integration of Western medicine (which is changing) and the spiritual self.  Although the talk is entitled, Conversations on Compassion, its focus is on compassion towards oneself.

meditation-2Tolle suggests that if we step back and observe our thoughts, we may be able to recognize that they can be quite negative. One way to change this pattern is by meditating. I would like to add that since having a neurofeedback training session can have the same outcomes that meditation can have (decrease obsessive thoughts, feelings of anxiety and depression and generally create a feeling of contentedness) it is helpful to include meditation and neurofeedback into a regular practice. The difference is that it is beneficial to meditate on a daily basis but not necessary to train more than once a week and eventually most do not need to train at all.  Also, a meditation practice is most effective when performed daily, while neurofeedback training has an ending but the results remain.

Tolle’s transformation occurred when he observed a particular thought: “I cannot live with myself anymore.” He then asked himself, “Who am I and what is the self that I cannot live with?” He became aware of the separation between himself and his thoughts.

Just asking himself the question, “Who am I and what is the self that I cannot live turning negative into positivewith?” allowed him to separate from his thoughts and his negative inner voice. Then, the next morning, he said that he woke and he sensed that his depression completely lifted. He didn’t understand it but says that since then there was a shift in his life and a feeling of peace. Some days it was greater than others but the underlying peace remains to this day.

negative voicesThe self-talk is conditioned by our past and culture. To move beyond this, one must acknowledge that there is a negative voice in our heads. Tolle says that our sense of self is derived from the thoughts we have of ourselves.

Dr. Doty added that, in looking at the neuroscience of this we can see that if we believe our negative thoughts, we will never able to get break out of the cycle of negative thinking. It can be addictive to stay in those patterns. We’re used to the stream of negative thoughts and we need to break away from them by being mindful.

Negative thinking (self-talk) is worrying about images-3what is going to happen or thinking about what might have been. There is only ever the present moment. The past and the future come from thinking. The present moment is all that we have.

 

If you would like to learn more about neurofeedback and how I can help you with your negative self-talk, contact me.