How Re-Training Your Brain Can Revitalize Your Life
Oct 30, 2017 07:25PM
by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
Did you know the brain is responsible for more than just keeping you focused at the office, reminding you to be on time for after-school pickup and giving you the wherewithal to power through a hectic schedule?
This organ is the “command center” of your being. It regulates the ability to communicate and interact with others, process information and environmental stimuli, engage in physical activities and routines, identify and express different emotions, cultivate greater mindfulness and self-awareness, and perform a myriad of functions that most take for granted.
Since the brain is an intricate, indispensable part of the human body, mental health requires just as much energy, care and attention as physical health does. In the same way that muscles change and strengthen with conditioning, the brain responds to persistent training as well. Through an advanced methodology called Neurofeedback, it is possible to correct and stabilize impaired cognition by pinpointing abnormalities in the brainwaves, then re-directing them back within healthy parameters.
To learn more about this multifaceted––not to mention, fascinating––process, I spoke with Gregg Sledziewski, a pioneer of Neurofeedback technology and practitioner at the Brain Wave Center in Sarasota. Below are the highlights of our conversation.
Natural Awakenings: Can you give a summation of this Neurofeedback process in basic, easy to understand terms?
Gregg Sledziewski: Think of it like a personal training session, specifically designed for you, that challenges and retrains the brain to function in a more optimal state. Training the brain to reach its maximum potential is similar to how we exercise our bodies to achieve peak performance.
Without drugs and using nationally recognized brain-mapping techniques, we develop customized Neurofeedback programs to overcome a multiple issues and experience long-lasting results. This method focuses on building new neural pathways to strengthen the brain, rather than just patching up symptoms.
NA: What types of conditions is this modality effective in managing, improving or eliminating the symptoms of?
Sledziewski: It has been well documented that people who suffer neurological problems have abnormal brainwaves in certain areas of this organ, so Neurofeedback is intended for these people with neurological and nervous system conditions.
Neurofeedback does not target any specific disorder but, instead, changes timing and activation patterns in the brain. The goal is to slowly guide the brain back into normal, healthy ranges and reconnect the neural pathways that have been disconnected. This results in the improvement of brain regulation which, in turn, impacts various symptoms.
In addition, seemingly unrelated issues like stress, anger, depression, negative habits and minor injuries can take a toll on our mental state––not just our physical health. Like the body, the brain needs both exercise and rest to function at peak performance. Neurofeedback is a measured learning process which takes advantage of the brain’s ability to self-regulate and seek balance.
By re-training irregular brainwave patterns, we are assisting the brain to operate more efficiently. This is similar to a computer storing data which, over time, slows its hard drive, requiring a reboot. The list of symptoms Neurofeedback can address is lengthy. Although we’ll work with anyone, we target anxiety, depression, ADHD and trauma/PTSD.
NA: How exactly does Neurofeedback re-train these brainwaves to enhance a person’s cognitive function and performance?
Sledziewski: The process of Neurofeedback is actually quite simple. Brain cells interact with each other to create thoughts, sensations, actions and emotions which are detectable as brainwaves. Neurofeedback monitors these brainwaves, looking for irregularities, then produces a signal designed to correct and guide them back into a healthy pattern.
A computer monitors your brainwaves while you watch a movie or listen to music. When deviations from the normal brainwave activity occur, the computer triggers an audio or visual cue to alert you that you’re functioning outside normal ranges. These cues are received by the brain which subconsciously adjusts itself back toward a normal pattern in order to make the cue stop. Over time, the brain learns to stay within the healthy ranges on its own.
The brain is a complex organ that comprises billions of cells, known as neurons, which send and receive messages throughout all parts of the body. These messages are electrical impulses that create brainwaves. The brain-map––also called a neuro-map––is an important tool used to evaluate the brainwaves and identify opportunities to improve communication between different regions of the brain.
This integral tool aids in developing the most effective Neurofeedback training protocols for your unique cognition. The brain-map is able to capture a window of brain activity, then analyze the data, and create a visual representation for each lobe and specific brainwave––Alpha, Beta, Delta and Theta.
NA: What attracted you to pursue the field of neuroscience, and how long have you been operating The Brain Wave Center?
Sledziewski: The brain is involved in everything we do from driving to studying to exercising to performing our jobs. It even informs our emotions, whether we feel happiness, anger, love or anything in between. The brain is the most important organ in our bodies.
The Brain Wave Center started offering Neurofeedback to the public back in 2013. We came together under the belief that a combination of brain function assessments and Neurofeedback training can shift how people focus their attention and energy to achieve their goals. We also partner with local advocacy groups here in Sarasota like the Child Protection Center and the Green Zone Hero veterans’ organization. We also offer payment arrangements for families and individuals in need, based on what they can afford.
Our mission is to make Neurofeedback as accessible to our community as possible because re-training your brain leads to a more enjoyable life!
The Brain Wave is committed to its passion for helping people experience their fullest lives through optimal cognitive function. The Brain Wave Center is located at 1 Health Place International, 1440 Main St., Sarasota. For more information on this cutting-edge approach of Neurofeedback, call 941-552-4500, email [email protected] or visit 1HPSarasota.com.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer is the Managing Editor of Natural Awakenings Sarasota–Manatee. She also works as a freelance writer, blogger and social media marketer based in Southwest Florida. Her personal blog HealthBeAHippie.Wordpress.com features practical tips for embracing an active, nutritious and empowered lifestyle.