With the start of a New Year everyone has made their resolutions. Many include buying a house, new car, losing weight, finishing school, making a sports team, and many other things. Fitness is one thing that many people have on their list, but it is also the first one that is left behind as the year moves on. When you think of fitness you think about how much you can lift, how fast you can run, and your physique. These are all fantastic things that will help you be healthier and look better, but there is another type of fitness we all need, brain fitness – including techniques such as neurofeedback.
Why Brain Fitness
If you really think about it, your brain is what gives you the ability to be who you are. This includes every aspect of your life such as on the job, at school, playing sports, and with family and friends. The more fit your brain is, the better you will be able to think clearer and quicker. This allows you to be sharper in any setting you are in. This also extends into the emotional side when interacting with people in various settings. If your brain isn’t fit, then you will be more likely to say or do something that you normally wouldn’t do. Complete fitness is achieved when you have physical fitness that is balanced with brain fitness.
How to Achieve Brain Fitness – Active and Passive Types
There are many ways to increase brain function and fitness. Brain fitness can be broken down into two generic types. You have active and passive therapy. Active therapy requires the participant to engage their brain to perform different tasks or therapies. This includes things such as memory tasks, eye exercises, breathing exercises, biofeedback and balance training. Passive therapy on the other hand requires no volitional effort. It can be broken down into sensory input such as e-stim, and subconscious training such as neurofeedback. The one we will focus on is neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback is performed on the subconscious level. When you search this topic to see how it is performed you will find different ways. The technique I will focus on is with small electrodes that monitor brain waves in which the machine reads them and sends input back to provide for optimal function. There are many different types of brain waves such as alpha, beta, and theta. These waves are based off of frequency and allow for the various functions of the brain. The ability of the brain to transition between frequencies allows for optimal brain function in the variety of tasks you are challenged with on a daily basis. Individuals have reported improvements in various areas such as concentration, stress, anxiety, memory, fatigue, ADHD, post concussive symptoms, and increased cognitive abilities to name a few.
Heinrich, H., Gevensleben, H., & Strehl, U. (2007). Annotation: Neurofeedback – train your brain to train behaviour. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,48(1), 3-16. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2006.01665.x
Ros, T., Théberge, J., Frewen, P. A., Kluetsch, R., Densmore, M., Calhoun, V. D., & Lanius, R. A. (2013). Mind over chatter: Plastic up-regulation of the fMRI salience network directly after EEG neurofeedback. Neuroimage, 65, 324-335. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.09.046
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