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.

 

A Simple Guide to Neurocognitive Testing

What Is Neurocognitive Testing? A Simple Guide for the Curious

If you’re curious about neurocognitive testing and reading this post to learn more about it, you’re using your cognitive abilities. Cognition, simply put, is a combination of your “thinking” abilities.

Thinking, however, is not simple at all. Thinking involves taking in information through a myriad of experiences and all our senses, analyzing them, and making decisions on how to handle them. 

Cognition is how you process and use the information in your world to guide your behavior — storing, accessing, interpreting, disseminating, and acting on the information. 

Cognition is how you make decisions, reason, judge, understand, and recognize. It’s how you store memory and access it. It’s how you process language.

Cognition happens in your brain, and if something is affecting your brain (such as depression, concussion, stroke, ADHD, or too much alcohol), it would impact your cognitive function. This in turn affects your ability to function well in your daily life. So it is important for you want to know if your cognitive abilities are within the normal range for your age. Enter neurocognitive testing. 

Neurocognitive testing measures brain function. The results give you a brain-health/cognitive snapshot and can tell you what’s working and what’s not, giving you a heads up about issues like memory loss, poor attention, or being too slow to process information – things that impact your relationships, your job, or your school performance.

But how does neurocognitive testing work exactly, you ask?

Keep reading to learn how neurocognitive assessment works and what it’s useful for. Then, set up an assessment for yourself to get informed on what your brain is up to!

How Neurocognitive Testing Works

Neurocognitive testing traditionally used pen-and-paper tests. Today, computerized testing is often used instead. Still, many professionals use both.

The tests are made up of small tasks and measure how you do on the tests. They might measure how fast you process the information or how well you can solve problems. 

Each test measures a specific part of your brain function, or cognition. The results of the test can then be compared with the results of a larger population average of people your age.

They can also be compared to other tests you’ve taken earlier to measure your progress. A typical assessment schedule might include a baseline, midline, and a final assessment if you’ve done some kind of treatment to improve your cognitive capacity.

For example, if you suffered a concussion and do a professional concussion treatment program — that helps you move toward peak brain performance again — you’d do a baseline neurocognitive test at the beginning of this 12-week program, one in the middle of the program, and one at the end. 

Benefits of Neurocognitive Testing

Neurocognitive testing allows you to find out where your brain function is compared with others your age, and yourself at different time points. 

It’s used to determine brain function as impacted by dementia, stroke, concussion, and ADHD, to name a few issues that could arise in the brain. This, in turn, allows you and your physician or therapist to come up with a specialized treatment plan. 

Examples of Neurocognitive Tests

Computerized testing is used extensively and makes testing fast and efficient. There are even mobile apps and games that can be used for testing. 

Here are examples of both computerized and non-computerized neurocognitive assessment.

Executive Functioning

Flanker Test is an example of a cognitive evaluation to help measure your executive functioning. In your day-to-day life, you use your executive function to decide what information is important to act on and what information needs to be pushed aside.

You use your executive function to set up priorities, to put complex actions into a series of steps (e.g. cooking), and to make sure things get done correctly.  

Flanker test is one of many tests that can check how well your executive function is working. In this test, images are shown at the same time as competing and distracting images.

For example, a test might show you images of arrows pointing in various directions. One arrow is the target arrow.

The target arrow is flanked by other arrows pointing in the same or different directions, and you are asked to identify in which direction the target arrow is pointing.

The test measures the speed at which your brain can ignore the distractions of the other arrows and focus on the relevant target arrow.

Like the Flanker Test, the Stroop test relies on distractions to measure your brain’s executive function.

Colors are written on screen, like “red” or “blue.” The words are written in incongruent colors. For example, the word “red” might be written in blue or green font instead of red.

The test then measures how long it takes you to discern words from the incongruent colors. For example, you might be asked to click on red fonts when the letters in red spell the word “blue.”

Processing Speed

Another cognitive test can measure how fast your brain handles information.  For example, a test may give you instructions to tap on certain dots on a screen and measures how long it takes you to find the right dots and press on them. Another test may measure how fast you can switch from one task to another task.

To be fair, the results of these tests are compared with results from others your age. If the results show that you’re lagging significantly behind in processing speed, it can indicate that something is affecting your brain function.

Some possibilities may include low levels of vitamins, anemia, insomnia, sleep apnea, or depression. Your doctor can figure out the source of the problem and help get back to functioning at your peak brain capacity.

Coordination and Motor Skills

Some neurocognitive tests can measure how well you can coordinate your hand movements and how fast you can respond to a signal.

These important cognitive function may be affected by a concussion. Knowing if they are affected can help determine when an athlete can return to competitive sports.

A test of motor coordination may look like a video game done on a tablet. There is a circle in the middle and a floating ball. You have to hold the tablet in a way that keeps the ball in the center of the circle. 

A non-computerized test to assess motor skills is the peg test. You are given pegs and asked to place them in holes, first with one hand and then the other hand. Speed and ability to get this done correctly are measured.

Then, comparisons can be made between left and right-hand results. Since the left and right are directed by different sides of the brain, differences in speed and ability between hands could help determine the location of an injury in the brain.

Language Tests

Verbal tests can be used to measure your language and communication skills.

One verbal test may require you to look at two objects and explain the similarities and differences (e.g. river and a canal). You ability to compare and contrast them can then be measured.

Another test may ask you to name as many words as possible for a given letter of the alphabet. The number of words you can list can then be compared to averages of others in your age group.

Short-Term Memory

Tests of short-term memory are fairly straight forward. For example, four objects are shown in a particular order. You then see a multiple-choice list of the objects in different orders. You have to pick the answer that corresponds to the order the objects were shown to you.

Neurocognitive Testing for You

Now that you know how informative and helpful neurocognitive testing can be in assessing brain function, whether it be to get a baseline or to find and address issues, you’re ready to give it a go for yourself or a friend or loved one.

Feel free to give us a call at any time to ask questions or set up an appointment. We’re here to help you and your family discover issues, set up a game plan to move in a healthy direction, and implement healthy brain treatments dealing with concussions and other brain injuries, ADHD, and more.

Remember, you CAN improve your cognitive abilities with targeted brain exercises, brain coaching, or EEG-based neurofeedback.  And the stronger your cognitive functions are, the more likely you are to succeed in your career.

5 Ways To De-Stress and Reduce Anxiety

1, 2, 3, Zen: 5 Effective Exercises for Anxiety Relief

If you find yourself battling anxiety disorder on a daily basis it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Anxiety disorder affects 40 million adults in the United States alone, and the numbers grow every year.

That’s why it’s so important to have effective exercises for anxiety in your arsenal of mental health tools to help you get through the day and to live a life free from anxiety and panic attacks.

If you or someone you love suffers from anxiety, read on for some important information that can help.

Knowing the Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

While following exercises and natural remedies that we are going to share with you can help reduce your symptoms, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional to find the root cause of your anxiety and get definitive treatment.

Sometimes your symptoms can be due to thyroid or vitamin deficiencies.

It’s also important to appreciate that anxiety (and panic attacks) can present with a wide variety of symptoms. Those include the following:

  •  A numbness or tingling sensation
  •  Nausea
  •  Dizziness
  •  Chest pain
  •  Trembling or palpitations
  •  Difficulty breathing
  •  Night sweats

These are just some of the symptoms to be aware of. If you find that you relate to any of the symptoms above, try the following exercises and be sure to get in touch with a mental health professional that can get you started on a proper treatment.

Natural Treatment 

There are a number of herbs and supplements that can be used to help treat anxiety. Lavender is one herb that has been found to dramatically decreased stress in some people and help them relax.

How you use lavender is up to you. Many individuals utilize it through aromatherapy, some use it alongside bath salts as part of their self-care routine, and others even enjoy it as a tea at the end of the day.

Since anxiety and panic attacks can happen anytime and anywhere, it’s helpful to have a perfume roller with pure lavender oil that can be applied when you feel the symptoms of an anxiety attack coming on.

You may experience even better results if you combine lavender with a relaxing massage.  

Physical Exercises for Anxiety

While you don’t need to run a marathon to fight anxiety, studies have shown that as little as 15 minutes a day of exercise can decrease anxiety and panic attacks, as well as depression.

In addition to flooding your brain with endorphins (the feel-good brain messengers), exercise also provides you with the opportunity to get some fresh air, connect with others, an anchor yourself in the present.

Meditation 

If the idea of sitting on a pillow for 20 minutes with nothing but your thoughts sounds overwhelming, we get it. For those suffering from anxiety, meditation can feel like a major feat. 

The good news is that no one expects you to know how to meditate off the bat. Try starting off was three to five minutes of deep breathing exercises each morning and then move on to try simple meditation techniques.

The longer you practice the longer you’ll be able to sit and focus on your breathing. This will help create the foundation you need to manage your emotions and reconnect with your breathing throughout the day. You can expect to significantly decrease the number of anxiety attacks with regular daily meditation.

There are a number of apps and countless free YouTube videos that can help you get started on your meditation journey. 

Creative Outlets 

Often anxiety arises when there’s a lack of healthy outlets where an individual can express their worries or stress.

Getting out your emotions without dwelling on the details is a major tool in managing your anxiety. Whether through painting, journaling, or spending time with an adult coloring book, giving yourself permission to get creative is a great strategy when the feelings of anxiety begin creeping in.

If you can’t think of anything to write or create, try starting with a gratitude journal that will help shift your focus on the positive areas of your life and reframe your outlook.

Open Up

Often those around us don’t have a clear understanding of what an anxiety attack actually feels like or what the crushing worry can do to one’s mental health. 

Taking the time to educate your loved ones on what an anxiety attack looks like, feels like, and what can trigger it is a major step in reclaiming your mental health.

Not only will this give those around you a more transparent understanding of what you’re going through, but it can also allow them to help you during the moments where the exercises above simply aren’t enough.

Going Beyond Exercises

While exercises for anxiety can be a tremendous tool, they’re no substitute for professional treatment. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to have extreme cases of anxiety attacks to speak with a mental health professional and to get treatment.

Simply sitting down and discussing your experience, and finding ways to manage your anxiety as a team can bring you closer to a life free of anxiety.

Sometimes taking a low dose of anti-anxiety medications for a short period of time (only as needed) can give you a period of time to gain control over your symptoms.

Sometimes treatment with EEG-based neurofeedback especially when combined with natural remedies, can make you feel less anxious and more in control.

You need to keep in mind that anxiety is a chronic medical condition, just like asthma or diabetes are chronic medical conditions.

You do not choose to have anxiety and so you should not blame yourself for suffering from having anxiety attacks. It’s not your fault; just like having asthma symptoms is not your fault.

You need to educate yourself how to manage (and prevent) the symptoms of chronic anxiety.

If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety on a daily basis and is ready to get the help needed to take back control of their mental health, contact us today for more information on how we can be of assistance. You may be a good candidate for treatment with neurofeedback.

The Science Behind Dementia

Dealing with Dementia: Neurological Research, Symptoms and Prevention

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 10 million new cases of dementia are diagnosed every year across the globe. This is a compelling issue that not only impacts families and caregivers, but our society at large. 

Luckily science is on our side, and today we can begin to understand what it is that causes dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Here at Neurogrow, we are excited to conduct research on mental decline and watch as results begin to save people’s lives before Alzheimer’s disease and dementia kick in. 

Today we are going to explore the signs and symptoms of dementia, and how the disease impacts society as a whole. Lastly, we’ll dive into the initiatives that each one of us can take daily to contribute to a better life for everyone.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is best understood as a mental decline combined with associative changes in memory, mood, and even personality. Dementia can occur from an acute accident such as a concussion, or vascular event, but it can also happen over the progression of someone’s life due to lifestyle choices. 

Vascular or stroke-related dementia is actually most common in the Southeast in America. Neurogrow, in Mclean, VA, and the entire DMV area reside in what researches like to call the “stroke belt” of the USA.  

So we came to the right place to tackle neurocognitive dysfunction head-on (*no pun intended). Now that we understand dementia can be a result of stroke, acute accident, or lifestyle choices over time, we can understand that dementia can and will impact everyone if the right choices are not made daily. Let’s dive into what happens in the brain to get a better understanding of all this. 

Dementia: What’s Going on in the Brain?

When two neurons meet, the space between them is called a synapse. Synapses in the brain are where neurotransmitters are released. This is where signals are transmitted and where communication happens.  

Synapses are also where we think, feel, see, hear, remember, and desire (neurotransmitters). This is where your brain communicates information, and it is also where Alzheimer’s and later dementia happens. 

In addition to releasing neurotransmitters, your neurons also release small peptides called amyloid-beta. The janitor cells of our brains are called microglia, and when our brains are functioning optimally, our janitor cells clear away and metabolize amyloid-beta. 

Most neuroscientists agree that Alzheimer’s disease begins when amyloid beta accumulates and is no longer cleared away by microglia.  

Scientists believe that it takes between 15-20 years of amyloid plaque accumulation before your brain and cognitive functions reach a tipping point. 

After this tipping point, our janitor cells (microglia) become hyper-activated and release chemicals that cause inflammation and damage to your neuropathways.

So if over time this can happen to all of us, we must change our habits and lifestyle choices today, so that we can live longer tomorrow.  

Dementia: The Symptoms 

Now that we know what is happening in the brain when Alzheimer’s leads to dementia, which is a build-up of amyloid-beta, it’s essential to understand the symptoms that occur. 

These symptoms are the reason for growing economic issues across the globe. They cause family members to become caregivers, and the problem impacts society at large. When amyloid-beta builds up, your neurotransmitters can’t communicate, and the symptoms below begin.

The symptoms of dementia include:

  • Mental decline
  • Change in memory
  • Change in mood
  • Change in personality
  • Visual/spatial impairment 
  • Difficulty detecting motions 
  • Difficulty reading
  • Executive dysfunction 
  • Inability to multitask
  • Issues problem-solving 
  • Difficulty with abstract reasoning

Once the onset of these symptoms begin, there is no way to cure dementia. But luckily scientists have figured out a way to prevent these amyloid-beta plaques from accumulating, therefore preventing Alzheimers and dementia before deterioration of cells begins.  

Preventing Dementia: The Remedy is in Your Hands  

Amyloid-beta build-up happens between our neurotransmitters every day. Luckily, there are tactics we can follow to ensure that we don’t reach the tipping point mentioned earlier. 

If we can’t do anything about getting older or the genes we inherit, how can we change the fact that amyloid-beta plaque build-up is bound to happen? 

The answer lies in preventive measures.

Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is so beautiful, in fact, while your eyes are closed and you’re sweetly dreaming the body sends a power-cleanse through the brain. If you want to be scientific about it, our glial cells carry cerebral spinal fluid throughout our brains and clear metabolic waste that accumulated in our synapses.

Sleep is like flossing the brain, allowing your neurotransmitters to send clear, concise messages through your brain’s pathways. If you do not get enough sleep, scientists believe that your lack of sleep is an early predictor of Alzheimer’s. 

Why? Because just one night of sleep deprivation leads to an increase in amyloid-beta. So adequate sleep is probably the most vital key to all of this.

What Else Can We Do to Prevent Dementia?

Below is a list of things that you can implement into your daily life to prevent Alzheimers and dementia from occurring with age or even early onset. It is essential to recognize that it is not just our habits, but it is our thoughts as well that contribute to creating healthy neuropathways.

So what can you do to prevent dementia?

  • Regular Exercise 
  • Eat a Mediterranean Style Diet
  • Meditate
  • Learn a Language
  • Learn a New Skill
  • Read a Book
  • Wear Protective Sporting Gear
  • Avoid High-Impact Sports
  • Be Grateful 

There is a scientific approach to happiness, and it begins with you! Try to think about it this way- you can’t control the weather, politics, or your pre-menstrual teens. However, the one thing you do have control over is your body.

When you give your body and mind the attention that they deserve, you will find that you stay healthy well beyond your years. It is no longer just our genes that define us, but it is the choices we make daily that will project our health for the rest of our lives. 

If you are having trouble fitting everything into your lifestyle, come into Neurogrow and meet with Dr. Fotuhi. Dr. Fotuhi is a world-renowned neuroscientist who helps others get their lives back one day at a time-everyday!

Does Alcohol Cause Your Brain to Shrink?

Can Alcohol Shrink Your Brain?

Can too much alcohol prime your brain for getting Alzheimer’s disease? Yes. Absolutely. Too much alcohol can shrink your brain. 

It can also impair your brain’s ability to clear the accumulation of toxic Alzheimer’s protein called amyloid, which will put you at risk of getting Dementia.

But let’s dig into this a bit deeper. How much alcohol is too much, and what kind of impact will alcohol have on your brain? 

These are some questions I like to explore because neuroscience is my passion, and I hope that everyone takes hold of the ability to grow their brains. 

It is the steps that you chose to take in your daily life that impact the longevity of your brain’s health and prevent disease later on in life. So let’s dive in together and figure out the factors that affect how much alcohol is too much. 

How much alcohol is healthy to drink?

There are some things which you should consider on a personal level before deciding how much alcohol is too much. And we will go over these things, but first let’s talk about drinking in moderation standards in the US.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the US Department of Agriculture, moderate drinking is defined as “1 drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.”

Drinking one or two glasses of alcoholic beverages (maximum of one per day for women and two per day for men)  can have some anti-inflammatory benefits for the brain and the heart. But this suggested amount relies on several factors. 

You should only consider drinking 1-2 glasses daily if you already exercise at least 45 minutes 4 times a week. Another factor is sleep; you need to have 8 hours a night.

How are your stress and anxiety levels?

Drinking regularly combined with a low-stress lifestyle, and proactive desire to continually challenge your brain daily is a must. 

If you are not doing these things, then you should limit your drinking to social occasions on weekends only. 

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

Pathological Changes in the Brain

While these are the drinking in moderation standards in America, it is essential to recognize the scientific-based data on drinking in moderation and its impact on the brain. 

According to a study done by the British Medical Journal, moderate drinking may not be so good for your brain. 

Researchers from the University of Oxford and University College London studied 550 men and women over 30 years. Researchers followed and measured the brain function and structure of participants. They did this to determine how moderate alcohol consumption affects the mind over time. 

Participants in the study periodically underwent tests that challenged their thinking skills. At the end of the study, all participants had MRI scans taken of their brains. 

The results came in and suggest that drinking just over seven drinks or less a week did not hurt or enhance brain health. However, drinking over seven alcoholic beverages per week did impact brain health. 

Studies proved that eight or more drinks per week directly correlates with shrinkage of the hippocampus, which is a part of your brain that is very important for memory. But the results found more.

Drinking more than eight drinks per week was found to cause deterioration of white matter in the brain which deals with your brain’s internal wiring. Both of these parts of your brain are associated with a decline in thinking skills. 

How Much is too Much?

So how much is too much? More than seven drinks a week is most likely too much. You need a healthy brain to live a long and happy life. 

The most important takeaway is that your lifestyle is what is going to impact your brain health more than anything else. 

If you are coming home every day and looking forward to a glass of wine instead of a good read or run around the block, health issues will arise.

If you find that you forget things very often, and you still use alcohol on a daily basis, your ability to remember things will decrease faster over time. 

So take a look at your lifestyle. Are you are active, passionate, and engaging? Do you participate in regular brain-stimulating activities like meditation, memorization, and exercise?  If so, go ahead and follow the rules suggested for moderate consumption. 

It is essential to be mindful about your specific situation and take the healthiest steps possible. 

Grow Your Brain

Your brain actually has the ability to grow. Participation in activities that could cause some of the most important functions in your brain to demise overtime is not what’s best for your body.  

Drinking can be a nice way to relax, and these are just the facts behind how alcohol can impact your brain’s health. It is really up to you to decide what to do with them in your daily life. 

If you would like to work on your brain health and cognition, our 12-week brain fitness program might be the right fit for you! 

How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

The Alzheimer’s Alarm: Preventing Disease

Do you ever worry about losing your keys and then think, “Hmm, could this be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease?” 

If you think that way, you aren’t alone; millions of Americans have the same concern. 

But as it turns out, what we call Alzheimer’s disease is really not one clear condition. Instead, it’s usually a mix of different things that cause brain shrinkage throughout life. 

These factors can make a person begin to forget things to the point where they may not even recognize family members. So, what can we do to combat it?

The Diagnosis is Alzheimer’s, but that’s not the only Problem

Above is the title of a New York Times article that talks about this whole issue. Recent studies have confirmed that Alzheimer’s is a mix of multiple factors that vary for every patient, based on their lifestyle choices.

The article talks about how this mixture of factors causes scientists and doctors to think about “which of these conditions is the culprit in memory loss in a particular patient, or whether all of them together are to blame.”

The question is if we don’t know what’s causing this disease in patients, how can we help prevent and treat it? We need to understand what causes the brain shrinkage that happens with aging, and in some people, leads to Alzheimer’s disease. 

Luckily, we actually have the capability to grow our brains and work on preventative treatment that can reverse the shrinkage of your brain. Let’s explore the human brain and discover how we can prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.

The Hippocampus and the Cortex

The hippocampus and the cortex are two parts of the brain that are vital for your memory. These two parts of the brain each have their own unique functions.

Hippocampus

The hippocampus is essential for learning and short term memory; it’s roughly the size of your thumb. You have one hippocampus on the right side of your brain, and one on the left. Without this part of the brain, you can’t memorize things like new names and new information.

Cortex

The cortex, which is on the outer layer of the brain, is important for your long-term memory. The cortex is also essential for your higher cognitive abilities such as doing your taxes, driving a car, and debating with friends. 

Now that we understand the parts of the brain that are important for your short-term and long-term memory, let’s dive into what happens with aging. 

What Happens to Our Brain When We Age?

With aging, our hippocampus, and to a lesser degree our cortex, begin to shrink; and they shrink a lot. To be more specific, after the age of 50, they start to shrink by an average of 0.5 percent per year.

Now, what’s causing the shrinkage? Is it just Alzheimer’s?

The answer is no. 

Alzheimer’s is a disease in which pieces of two proteins (called amyloid and tau) begin to clump up; they aggregate into insoluble little pellets. They attract inflammation, and by doing so, they damage the brain.   

While we may think that Alzheimer’s disease remains a mystery, recent discoveries in the past two-years are telling us something different.

They are proving more and more evidence that our lifestyle factors contribute to how much of these Alzheimer’s proteins we collect and aggregate in our brains. 

Lifestyle Factors

Did you know that diet, sleep, exercise, and brain stimulation can play a role in who gets Alzheimer’s disease?

Let’s say, for example, that you only sleep four to six hours per night. Could this contribute to Alzheimer’s disease? 

The answer is yes. 

Studies have shown that people who routinely do not get enough sleep have more Alzheimer’s proteins in their brains. 

Just think about it – your lack of sleep causes your Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, obesity or vascular risk factors such as diabetes or hypertension can also cause shrinkage in the cortex and hippocampus. 

People who have anxiety and depression also have more brain shrinkage, especially compared to those who don’t suffer from mental illnesses. Furthermore, patients with repeated concussions also have a lot more shrinkage in their brains than those who don’t have concussions. 

The Cure for Alzheimer’s

We now have compelling scientific evidence that shows your lifestyle factors throughout your life determine whether or not your brain stays healthy and strong, or frail and weak. 

What you do today really makes a difference in how healthy your brain will be in the future. 

Your brain is a lot like your teeth; if you brush your teeth every day they will be healthier, whiter, and stronger. However, if you don’t take care of your teeth, they will decay. 

Don’t allow your brain to decay; you have the opportunity to make healthy choices and keep your brain healthy and active. If you are interested to learn more about this topic, you can watch Dr. Fotuhi’s lecture on how to defy aging.

Come into Neurogrow so we can provide you with a brain check-up and put you on a track toward a fit and strong brain both in the short term and in the long term. 

Change Your Life With Thankfulness

How Being Thankful Can Change Your Life: Gratitude and Your Brain 

Did you know that there’s a medicine that’s available to anyone at any time which can change a life? Well, there is! It’s called gratuity, and you’ll be surprised to find out that it can be as powerful as any treatment or pill. 

All you really need is a bit of willpower to experience the magic of gratuity. Watch as a simple “thank you” begins to change the way you view the world around you and leads to a healthier, happier you! 

Dr.Tanmeet Sethi’s Ted Talk, Two Words that Can Change Your Life has a lot to do with the neuroscience of the human brain and what we believe here in Washington, DC at NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center. Dive in with us as we take a deeper look at the neuroscience behind the Ted Talk! 

The Science Behind Gratuity

Dr. Sathi begins her talk on gratitude by going over a study that was done by neuroscientists at UCLA and the University of Montreal. In this study, gratitude was proven to work as an antidepressant for the human brain. 

Here’s how it works: when you practice thankfulness, you increase the levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain. These are the neurochemicals in our brain that make us happier. They also increase our desire to connect with others and the world around us.

What’s more, USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute actually published a case study that used functional MRI imaging to show how gratitude works in the brain. The images showed that when we practice gratitude, we stimulate our prefrontal cortex, which modulates stress and pain. 

Saying Thank You 

It may feel like “thank you” is an overused set of words. We say these words to other people all the time! The question is, when do you say thank you to yourself? 

When you take a moment to thank yourself and your body, you can start to change your thinking. 

For instance, have you ever said thank you to your pain? It may sound weird, unconventional, wrong even, but when we face pain and suffering head-on, we may just be able to cope with it rather than run away. 

If your knees are constantly in pain, say thank you to your pain, and compare the results to Advil. Can you accept that maybe this is simply a part of your life’s path?

Practicing Gratuity 

One way to strengthen your brain is by practicing gratuity. And we don’t mean by sending out 100 thank you cards or texts to everyone you know during the holidays. 

Make gratuity a daily practice; here’s how:

Gratuity Journal:

Keep a daily gratuity journal and write down three things that you’re thankful for on paper every day for three weeks. Write a variety of things down that you are grateful for. Get creative and try to find something new to be thankful for each day. 

Practice Mindfulness:

Take some time to sit outdoors or in a calm, quiet place in your home. Express gratitude for your body and soul. Try being thankful for your breath by taking the time to focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your nostrils. Be grateful for the way your feet feel against the ground.

Spend Quality Time with People You Love: 

Don’t just spend time with the people you love, spend quality time with them. Put your phone away for a couple of hours, play a game with a friend, go for a walk with a family member, or take a group out on the water in a kayak. Then, hug your loved ones, and say thank you for the quality time they share with you. After all, tomorrow is always unknown and the only thing you have is the present moment. 

Affirmations 

Affirmations may sound silly when you look in the mirror and recite them, but science is proving that it actually helps. MRI evidence suggests that the “ventromedial prefrontal cortex—involved in positive valuation and self-related information processing—becomes more active when we consider our personal values.”

So, don’t be afraid to tell yourself that you are smart, wonderful, beautiful, and loved today! If you don’t believe it, you soon will!

The Long Term Results of Gratuity

Practicing gratuity and experiencing gratuity can be two very different things. You might have to sit down and be thankful for weeks or even months before you start to feel the effects. 

This is the difference between a pill and a practice. A pill may offer you immediate effects, but in the long run, your body will become immune to it. A practice, like gratuity, won’t provide you immediate effects, but in the long term, the exercise will become a new neural pathway. 

This is called neuroplasticity

And when you work on creating pathways of positivity your brain learns how to use those pathways which produce serotonin and dopamine in the brain to optimize the function of your prefrontal cortex when you experience things like stress, pain, and anxiety. 

Building strong neural pathways can be difficult and requires some coaching and training. If you need help, please come into our office in Mclean, VA, and try our brain fitness program!

The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Depression

How Sleep Apnea and Depression Are Linked

Waking up in the middle of the night and gasping for air along with consistent snoring might be more of a problem than you think. 

It probably doesn’t leave you thinking about much else other than your physical health. 

It certainly doesn’t lead you to think about being at risk for depression.

Studies show you could be wrong. Sleep Apnea is the most common sleeping disorder affecting an estimated 25 million Americans. Lost sleep can affect everything from health to mood. 

Sometimes even leading to depression. 

What is Sleep Apnea?

Snoring, waking up gasping for air, or feeling like you never slept at all?

Sleep apnea could be the culprit. 

Not only does it contribute to losing precious sleep but can cause a loss of interest in things you love to do. 

If you’ve ever heard someone in a deep sleep snoring, suddenly stop and take a deep breath, sleep apnea could be to blame. 

Here are some other common symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Loud and frequent snoring
  • Waking up gasping for air
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Feeling unrefreshed when waking up
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Morning headaches
  • Irritability 

Sleep Apnea and Link With Depression

Sleeping well makes you feel energized, motivated, and ready to take on the day.  But, if your night is filled with restless sleep, or waking hundreds of times in a single night due to sleep apnea, you wake up feeling tired, foggy, and irritable.

You feel worse by early afternoon, and your symptoms can be misdiagnosed as depression. Your mood issues may be worse if you also suffer from insomnia, which means difficulty falling sleep or staying sleep.

Depression can take over lives and affect all those around us. Many people are against taking medications for depression and don’t even see a psychiatrist for treating their sad mood or excessive irritability.

But, a person diagnosed with sleep apnea is more likely to consider treatment – which often does not involve taking medications.

How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?

Sleep apnea is treated with an intervention that keeps your “air pipes” open by a machine called CPAP

A mask that creates continuous and positive airway pressure to keep it open throughout the night. Leading to better sleep. And, a better you. 

Treating sleep apnea and normalizing breathing with CPAP has tremendous which include:

  • Improved blood pressure and a lower risk for heart attacks and stroke
  • Waking up refreshed
  • More energy 
  • Fewer mood issues that can be mistaken as depression
  • Less snoring (better quality of sleep for your bed partner)
  • Sharper memory
  • Longer life and lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Can You Prevent Depression Symptoms Due to Sleep Apnea?

Yes. 

But your sense of being depressed can be due to other factors beyond sleep apnea or insomnia. It is important that you discuss how you feel with your doctor. In general, there are many ways you can fight symptoms of depression.

  • Boost your brain fitness
  • Physical exercise
  • Psychotherapy
  • Talking to someone you love and trust
  • Medication
  • Engaging in activities you are passionate about
  • Meditation
  • Minimize drinking alcohol
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Neurofeedback 

Please keep in mind that is important you reach out to your medical provider and get a diagnosis for your sad mood, fatigue, and excessive irritability. Without a diagnosis, there can be no treatment. Without treatment, there can be no healing. 

What Next?

We all seek happiness in our lives. But how do we begin if we are deprived of one of the most critical components of our brains? 

Sleep. 

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, or if you feel depressed and have any of the symptoms relating to sleep apnea, it’s best to rule it out. The two are often connected and share many of the same characteristics. 

For more information on how to keep your brain in the best shape possible, and how to fight sleeping problems, brain fog, or mood issues, please feel free to contact us.

You can also learn more about our many different treatments and programs on our website. 

Meditation Training: Reaching Peace of Mind, Happiness, and Calmness

How to Find Happiness Through Meditation

Do you tend to put pressure on yourself and others around you all the time? Are you finding yourself stressed out the majority of the time? These symptoms can be due anxiety.

Did you know that anxiety is the most common mental illness disorder in the US? According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, over 40 million people have anxiety in the United States.

When it comes to mental health, self-awareness is the first step toward feeling better. The next step is deciding what to do about it. Some ideas may include implementing meditation and restful breathing exercises. It will take practice before you can master these mind-boosting techniques.

Over time, you will feel calm you and peaceful. If you don’t stay consistent, don’t quit. It’s building a new habit. Encourage yourself the same way you would encourage a baby learning to walk. Keep in mind that it takes 21-66 days to form a habit.

By starting to practice meditation training, you will feel more “present to the moment.” It will help ground you to do what you can about a challenge you are facing now. 

Anxiety is bringing the fear of the future into the present. When you focus on the fear of the future, you can self-sabotage or create the circumstances or perspective you don’t want. Meditation training will help bring you back to this moment in the present. At the same time, long-lasting results will take time. Be patient with the process.

For one of the most common disorders affecting over 40 million people, meditation training provides a natural treatment modality for anxiety sufferers.

Meditation Training: Reaching Your Homeostasis

Meditation training has many benefits for brain fitness. It helps you become more present and experience more joy. You may not even have noticed until now how often you trapped yourself in fear of the future. The more present you become, you will realize how much time you wasted in the future or in the present. All you truly have and control is this moment now.

Meditation helps decrease symptoms due to depression and anxiety. Research shows that about 8 weeks of meditation is life-changing. Depression and anxiety are directly tied to our thoughts. The science doesn’t stop there. Our thoughts create neural pathways in our brains. Our minds and bodies are incredible and intertwined.

Until you stop to meditate and go within, you may not even be aware of some of your thought patterns currently causing anxiety. Once you start feeling anxious, your amygdala triggers the release of the stress hormone, called cortisol.

The Scientific American reported  a study showing evidence of the amygdala shrinking with 8 weeks of meditation training. Not only will you feel better with meditation, but your brain is getting healthier too.

With time, you will increase your self-control with the fight or flight responses to stress. Your body will produce less cortisol resulting in less stress. This self-awareness is the start.

So, if you haven’t meditated before, start with 5 minutes in the morning and afternoon. Gradually build up day by day. Before you know it, you will be meditating 20-30 minutes a day.

Here’s why you want to start meditation training today.

1. Quiet the Mind

When we get still and quiet the mind, it reduces anxiety. For example, at any moment that you start feeling anxious, immediately take a deep breath.

Ask yourself, am I alive in this moment? Is this situation life or death? Likely it is not. A great indicator of anxiety is if you have a 10 reaction to a 2 situation without asking for clarity.

Meditation Training will help you quiet the mind. If you are new to meditation, start with 5 minutes meditating in the morning and before bed. If you are already practicing meditation, increase the consistency and/or the time.  

2. Mindful Music

Mindful music may have a meditative impact too. Whether you are meditating or not, put on some mindful music like ocean waves. You will notice how your disposition changes.

Mindful music helps lower blood pressure and heart rate. Some types of nature, classical and positive music may be particularly calming.

3. Deep Breathing

When we are meditating, it’s easier to focus on deep breathing. When we fill our lungs and bellies, we feel the breath of life in our bodies. Something else you may want to try is practicing deep breathing all day.

There are many benefits to practicing deep breathing. For example, it helps activate our parasympathetic nervous system. This calms us immediately.

There are several types of deep breathing exercises you can do to calm yourself. These include deep abdominal breathing and belly breathing. 

The end goal is deepening your breath. Breath in deeply through the nose fully expanding your lungs and stomach. When you feel anxiety, your take rapid short breaths. People that suffer from anxiety tend to breath shallower breaths in general.

By shifting this habit, you will shift your mental state.

4. Practicing Meditation

Start practicing meditation and deep breathing today. The sooner you start, the faster you will experience the benefits. Before you start, write down some things you are grateful for. To add to the experience, write down gratitude before and after to help you increase mindfulness.

To start your meditation session:

  1. Sit upright in a chair with feet on the floor. Some people prefer lying down.
  2. Pay attention to your breathing. Don’t change it. Simply observe your pace.
  3. Continue focusing on your breathing. Perhaps repeat a mantra (such “peace” or “joy).
  4. Acknowledge the thoughts that come up and gently let them pass.
  5. Keep meditating for about 5-10 minutes. Calming music will help.
  6. Open your eyes and observe how you feel. No judgment. Simply observe.
  7. Write down 5-10 things you are grateful for to seal your practice.

Gratitude helps reducing anxiety.  You will likely feel calmer and more present right away. Stay consistent and you will be amazed on how your brain transforms to a calmer state within days or weeks.

Reaching Your Homeostasis State with Breathing Exercises

Meditation training with deep breathing helps you reach your natural homeostasis, a state of mind that is calm, happy, and peaceful.  

Learn more on the scientific approach to happiness and ways it may help you.

Fotuhi Friday: How to Stress Less and Live a Happier Life

Fotuhi Friday: How To Reduce Stress

What are the three most common causes of anxiety and stress?

Today we are going to tackle the common causes of stress and anxiety, how you can combat them effectively, and how you can gain control over your life. 

You may feel like there are so many things that cause stress and anxiety, but most of the causes will fall under the umbrella of the three most common which we are about to go over. Let’s dive in! 

The 3 Most Common Causes of Stress and Anxiety

You may not feel this way, but it’s possible to enjoy your life without the gloom of stress hanging over you!

Let me start by telling you the three most common causes of stress and anxiety in all of us. If you have a brain, raise your hand because this pertains to you!

1. Lack of Control

This cause seems like a no-brainer, but it’s true: we cannot control the world around us

This fact makes us frustrated. Things happen: accidents, arguments, surprises. We want our kids, coworkers, and spouses to do certain things, and they just don’t do the things that we want them to do.

2. Responsibility and Blame

Another common cause of stress and anxiety is that we feel other people are responsible for the things that go wrong in our life. 

For example, you may have a running thought process similar to any of these listed below. 

  •  “If only my spouse treated our children differently, our children would be well-behaved, and we would have a happier life.” 
  • “If only our coworkers behaved the way they are supposed to we would have a better work environment.” 
  • “If only the government didn’t tax me extra for living in Bethesda, MD, I would have more money to do the things I want to do.”

3. Habitual Response

The third major cause of stress and anxiety is something called habitual response

For example, some people feel stress whenever they have to call their parents or their boss. Habitual response is the anxiety that arises before the conversation or situation has even taken place. 

So, it’s a feeling that every time a situation arises you automatically react in a certain way before knowing the outcome. 

How to Combat the Common Causes of Stress and Anxiety

You may be thinking, “Wow, I can really resonate with these problems.” That’s totally normal! We all struggle with stress and anxiety, but our brains have the capacity to solve and fix these problems. 

Even if you have experienced these issues for years on end, or decades you can begin to start changing the way you think with these three methods.

1. Control Your Own Mind

Accept and consider the fact that you have control over your mind– you drive the vehicle. We can only control our own thoughts and emotions. We have our amazing brain which dictates what we do and helps us perceive the world around us. 

The things that we consider right or wrong the basic products of our brain’s functioning. So if you think your spouse is doing this and that, you might be right, or you may be wrong. But it can be humbling to know that the things which you hold as truths may not actually be absolute truths.

2. Take Responsibility

Take responsibility for what happens to you. You have control of your thoughts and emotions and what happens to you. There’s no point in blaming your actions on what your mother did to you 20 years ago. Those actions are in the past, and you may find it calming to accept that it will never come back.

You don’t have to relive these moments in your thought process; you can take the time to meditate instead and bring your breath back to the present moment.

Take responsibility of how you live your day to day life, think on the positive side, switch your thought process around by affirming the opposite every time a negative thought arises.

3. Stay Positive

Hop on the positivity train and move with excitement rather than fear. We have no idea what tomorrow might hold, so why not think positively?

Try it out; it can’t hurt you! On the other hand, when you have too much stress and anxiety, cortisol will be released in your brain, which contributes to memory loss and disease later on in life. 

What’s the positivity train? Well since you asked it whistles to a tune that goes a lot like this: Optimism + Joy + Faith = Experiencing Today!

The Neuroscience of Life 

The stressful things around you have to do with the way you perceive them to be stressful. If you change the way you think about them, all the stress will begin to melt away.

We live in a society where everything is so fast-paced, slow it down, give each moment the attention it deserves, and find beauty in all the little things. 

You can indeed control positive or negative thoughts in your head, and you do have the power to do so when you believe in the positive.  

It’s so important for your long term health to destress and release any anxieties that you might have. If you’re not sure how to do this, come into our office, our 12-week brain fitness program will help you keep your mind strong. And a strong mind is a happy mind! 

A Scientific Approach to Happiness

Fotuhi Friday Talks: Is There Science Behind our Happiness?

Neurology is my passion, and today, I want to share with you some interesting facts about how you can use your brain power to increase your happiness and quality of life.

Once you grasp these principles, you will begin to appreciate the way your mind works. And when you master the way your own brain works, you will understand the way other people’s minds work.  

We all get frustrated, flustered, anxious, and angry sometimes, and this is only natural. The most important thing you can do is stop to realize what your brain is doing and change that specific pattern.

Your brain health is the most important thing, and once you give it the attention it deserves, you will begin to form more meaningful relationships with everyone around you. 

So let’s jump into these basic principles, and put you on a path to a happier, healthier life. 

Principle #1: 

The Quality of our Life and Happiness Depends on Our Relationships with Others

If the people around us are unhappy, then we become unhappy too.

Our brains want to find a way to make the people around us happier. 

When the people around us are happy that energy makes us happy as well. So be kind to others, ask them how they are doing, and actually mean it. 

Be considerate toward your family members and try to see the world from their point of view. Get to know your coworkers, have meaningful conversations and share laughs. 

Principle #2:

People Do Not Have Bad Intentions

There are a lot of fear-based ideas being spread around the country right now but think of this principle from an evolutionary standpoint. 

We do what we think is best for our “survival.” As humans, we always have. We may not always be right, but our actions are a result of what we think we need to do in order to have a better life for ourselves or our family members.

The things that we do are based on our assumptions of what needs to be done on any given day. 

Principle #3:

Take Responsibility for Your Own Actions

You are responsible for the actions you take. Period. 

For example, you can’t say my spouse was rude to me today, and that is why I am so grumpy.

You are so grumpy because you are choosing to be, no one else can make you act a certain way.

You are the one that hits the gas pedal and chooses to run smooth or fast. 

When someone says something that bothers you, it is not what they say that bothers you, but it is your interpretation of what they meant that bothers you.

The best example here lies in Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia area. You probably sit in traffic every day on the way to work. 

If you get angry while sitting in traffic, it is because your interpretation is that there should be no traffic even though you live near the Nation’s Capital. You can’t blame other drivers for the fact that you are late to your appointment.

Question your interpretations, you can’t say the traffic made me angry, you need to take responsibility for how you feel and how you react. If you don’t like traffic, you should consider living in suburbs.

Principle #4:

For every Action, there is a Reaction

Somethings makes you upset, and you show that you are unhappy instead of accepting reality as it is. Your unhappy face and negative attitude annoy other people, which in turn makes them react negatively toward you. And this, of course, creates more unhappiness for you. 

To avoid this downhill spiral, it is essential to press the pause button when something upsets you.

You have to consider that it is not what someone said or what has happened that makes you feel bad, but it is your interpretation of the situation that has made you feel the way you do. 

There are two parts of the brain that help you make decisions. In your frontal lobe, you make decisions based on logic. While your limbic system is the emotional part of your mind. 

Most of the time, your frontal lobe has control of your limbic system, and you can use it as a tool to press the pause button. 

When something terrible happens, you have to ask yourself what will be the consequence of my reaction and is that consequence what I want.

So again we go back to the Washington DC traffic problem. If you realize that getting angry in traffic does not solve any issues (and never will), then you can say okay maybe instead of being frustrated I can take this time to listen to a podcast, or learn a second language. 

You could also call an old friend, or listen to some calming music. You are the one who has the agency to choose an outcome with a better consequence. 

This ties back into your relationships as well. If your spouse says “why are you late again” you can respond with “I am sorry; it has been a long day. Let’s get some dinner and relax, I love you;” rather than “because I was at work and I am not that late anyway.”

You Have Free Will

Your pause button can grant you the time to think about three or four different reactions for each event that happens to you; so try to pause and choose the reaction with the best outcome. 

That is the secret sauce- you have the free will to be happy or to be unhappy.

Your brain has an incredible mechanism of using logic to control emotions.

Remember- the quality of our lives depends on our relations with those around us, people don’t have bad intentions, and we need to take responsibility for our actions and reactions. 

When we understand this about our brains, then we can start to have better relationships, and love the things that surround our lives. 

If you need help strengthening your brain or finding a way to reduce your stress, it may be a good idea to talk with a neurologist that can help.

Looking for more brain tips on how you can improve your brain performance? Check out this awesome Fotuhi Friday blog on what causes memory loss

Brain Coaching To Stop The Aging Process

Memory Games for Adults: How Brain Coaching Helps You Defy Aging

50 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, according to the Alzheimer Association.

Alzheimer and dementia are often used interchangeably. However, dementia is not a disease but a syndrome that describes a group of diseases that affect mental cognition. Alzheimer’s happens to be the most common form of dementia. 

Millions  of people fear the development of Alzheimer’s disease; they are not aware of  the new scientific discoveries which show this disease can be prevented through a series of simple steps.https://www.facebook.com/NeuroGrow/videos/1647016832098589/

Step 1:  Live a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and eat right;

Step 2:  Limit alcohol, and quit smoking.

Step 3: Stimulate your brain and try challenging brain games. Read on to learn more about these games and how they can help you lead a healthier life and defy aging.

What are the Early Signs of Alzheimer’s disease?

If you or a family member is suffering from memory loss or cognitive decline, contact us for a full evaluation. 

Below are some warning signs for Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Getting lost while driving,
  • Not remembering family members
  • Confusion on a daily basis
  • Repeating yourself over and over again,
  • Personality changes,
  • Issues with taking care of routine daily tasks.

Did you know that some common medical issues can contribute to memory loss with aging? Anxiety and stress, sleep issues, depression, and even obesity can be significant contributors to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Treatment Options

If caught early, there are options to improve both cognitive function and quality of life. As previously mentioned, adopting an overall healthy lifestyle is beneficial. You should also manage stress, and seek out meditation, dancing, and/or social engagements.

Next, depending on your personal situation, a treatment plan can be developed to improve your daily life by training your brain. The good news is that  you can “train” your brain, much as you train the muscles of your body.

Research into this type of brain training is relatively new but is showing great promise. A 2016 presentation at the International Alzheimer’s Association Meeting showed that computer-based brain training could reduce the development of Alzheimer’s by 12.1%.

The brain is an ever-changing organ and although its structure is determined at birth, it has a certain amount of plasticity, or ability to change its function and structure.

As you age, your brain shrinks approximately 5% for each decade of life after age 50. This is a change in the brain’s actual volume. Without the proper stimulation, the brain shrinkage accelerates and can impact your mental cognition and memory.

Games and activities like the one mentioned above can help you train your brain to use other pathways. As the structure changes, your brain also changes which helps to your maintain your peak cognitive performance.

In general, this is referred to as Brain Training but can refer to any activity that causes you to think. Learning a new skill, making yourself take a different route home from work every day are simple examples of memory games for adults.

Do I Need/Want a Brain Coach?

Although there is a lot you can do to stimulate the brain on your own, in many cases to see the best outcomes, you should take a more holistic and tailored approach – with the help of a brain coach.

Prior to meeting with a Brain Coach, you will complete a comprehensive assessment of the current state of your overall health and your mental cognition.

For example, maybe you feel anxious in work meetings and find it hard to focus. A Brain Coach will give you exercises to control your anxiety and increase your focus. She may challenge you to hands-on or computer-based games that tailored specifically for your needs and goals.

If you are not physically active, your brain coach will help you find exercises that are enjoyable and fit your lifestyle. 

Your Brain Coach is a dedicated advocate that will help you find the right tools to decrease stress, think faster, remember better, feel calmer, and improve your organizational skills.

Think of brain coaching as physical therapy for your brain. Your brain coach can strengthen your brain’s memory and attention  muscles.

Common Memory Games for Adults

The list below is not all-inclusive, but see what happens if you try some of the activities listed below.

  • Suduku, if you have never played, watch out, this game stimulates and expands your problem-solving skills.
  • Do you remember the electronic game, Simon? Dig it out; it has a positive impact on short term memory because as you get better at the game, the faster the game goes. 
  • Word Searches and Crossword Puzzles stimulate language and memory centers.
  • Chess and Majang are both strategy games that stimulate your brain. Chess requires you to use both sides of your brain. Majang improves the verbal part of your brain where we learn languages. The bonus you don’t have to learn Chinese to benefit. These games are also social which helps with cognitive function. 
  • Another common memory game is to look at a picture and try to memorize all the items you see. The more you practice the better your memory will become and the less time you will need to look at the picture to memorize the items. 

Memory games can take many forms, sudoku, crosswords, even computer-based games. The idea is to stimulate the brain for a happier life as you age.

Are You Ready for a Better Life Through Brain Coaching?

Brain Coaches can help with more than memory games for adults. They can work to ensure that as you age, you are able to enjoy your life to the fullest. If you still have questions about Brain Coaching, click here for a series of presentations to help you better understand how a Brain Coach can help you.

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

What Is Brain Coaching: A Beginner’s Guide

The Importance of Brain Fitness

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

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

Boosting Brain Fitness

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

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

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

What Is Brain Coaching?

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

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

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

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

Benefits of Brain Coaching 

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

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

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

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

Why It Works

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

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

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

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

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

Why You Need a Brain Coach 

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

1. Brain Coaches Have Expert Knowledge

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

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

2. Brain Coaches Act As Personal Trainers

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

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

Getting Started

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

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

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

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

Strengthen Your Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can We See Brain Growth In An MRI?

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

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

 

Here is the video for my one-hour presentation:

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

Does Diet Slow The Aging Process?

Excessive activity of the immune system in the form of inflammation in the brain contributes to memory loss with aging and the development of Alzheimer‘s disease. A Mediterranean diet can be helpful as it has been shown to reduce the inflammatory process in all of our body organs.  The ingredients that are particularly powerful include blueberries, dark chocolate, and omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon).