Neurofeedback and Optimal Brain Function

Thank-you to http://ahmritanaturalmentalhealth.wordpress.com/ for this very interesting guest post. 🙂

Neurofeedback is a treatment which has evolved from Biofeedback. Many of you would have heard about this concept:

“…is a process that enables an individual to learn   how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and   performance. Precise instruments measure physiological activity such as   brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature.   These instruments rapidly and accurately ‘feed back’ information to the user.   The presentation of this information — often in conjunction with changes   in thinking, emotions, and behavior — supports desired physiological   changes. Over time, these changes can endure without continued use of an   instrument.” Three   professional biofeedback organizations, the Association   for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB), Biofeedback   Certification International Alliance (BCIA), and the International   Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR), arrived at a consensus   definition of biofeedback in 2008.Read more here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofeedback

The concept of Biofeedback has been practised for time immemorial by Yoga and Pranayama students and masters. Here in the west it has developed to its current form since the late 50’s and was very popular in the 80’s. Since then it has sadly somewhat disappeared from the popular radar again, as do so many worthy and non invasive natural therapies. Mostly due to funding issues in the ever ongoing effort of pharmaceutical companies to suppress what would outshine their products.

But back to topic – Neurofeedback – “Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that uses electroencephalography or fMRI to provide a signal that can be used by a person to receive feedback about brain activity.”

Research so far has been working in particular to prove its worth as a treatment of epilepsy, autism, headaches, insomnia, addiction problems and more, but its benefits can be felt by anyone who has suffered an emotional trauma.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurofeedback

However, you do not need to be diagnosed with a medical condition to benefit from this treatment, as it is designed to optimize brain function.

Like many I became aware of the biofeedback movement in the late 80’s, but never did much with it. By chance a friend of mine gave me a rather large voucher for a bookstore in 2007. One of the titles I bought was:

“The Healing Power of Neurofeedback”, (2006), by Stephen Larsen Ph.D. Healing Arts Press.

Which humbly and quietly sat in my bookshelf for three years, until I was hunting for something new to read during semester break. What I found in this book had me totally spell bound, a treatment called LENS Technique, developed by Len Ochs.

http://www.ochslabs.com/

After several hours of googling, I found a practitioner in Melbourne, who had recently migrated from Germany. I booked myself in for six treatments, which was explained to me as a usual course of treatment. Even though, the cost was not outrageous, I could instantly see, that it would be out of reach of exactly the majority of the population needing it – no medicare funding!

At the time stress levels in my life were approaching frantic on the stress meter, due to work, study and family commitments. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Well I was turning into a bit of a sleep deprived grouch 🙂

What I experienced even after the first treatment was sensational  (and lasting)– I became acutely aware of all the tension in my body; that I was holding a pen like a sword, my shoulders had taken up position at ear level and my breathing was shallow. By the time I got home after an hours city driving, I was in total and utter relaxation – of the ragdoll kind, but aware and alert, I felt fantastically at peace. I would recommend it to everyone!

Since, I found another practitioner of Neurofeedback – Dr. Shum, the Psychiatrist in Australia who has also helped develop Subconscious Freedom Technique

http://au.blurb.com/search/site_search?search=Subconscious+Freedom+Therapy

During LENS treatments you sit relaxed in a comfy chair, the practitioner connects several tiny electrodes and you can keep an eye on your heart and breathing rate on a screen. While treatment was going on I was watching a lot of David Attenborough nature documentaries, which I found helped the relaxation tremendously. At no point was there any discomfort or difficulty. The positive outcomes kept piling up, I was able to relax again, sleep better, manage my workload better and generally felt a fair bit more human friendly, which is a big plus when you work in Mental Health.

I would really like to encourage you to get the book, have a look at the websites and contact a practitioner in your area – no amount of me raving on about how greatly it helped me can substitute having your own experience.

Ahmrita’s blog is based at http://ahmritanaturalmentalhealth.wordpress.com/

for further information on nautral mental health many topics.

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This is an intertersting blog in particular discussing head injury and the impact/ effects on the brain of aquired brain injury. There are lots of useful links for people with aquired brain injury to organisations who can help.

about head injury

I’ve just read some more news about Head Injury and Dementia.

We know that victims of head injury can become very vulnerable to brain tissue damage depending on the severity of the damage. Most often than not thinking, remembering, understanding, (expressive and receptive dysphasia), along with behaviour and cognitives combined are related to dementia……….. cont

Here is the article.

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/dementia_in_head_injury/article_em.htm

 

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One Moment At A Time – What Is MBSR And Who Is Jon Kabat-Zinn?

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Jon Kabat-Zinn(1) (2)

In search of mindfulness I have been following the progress of mindfulness teaching locally and have been pleasantly surprised recently with the numbers of classes advertised.

A couple of weeks ago I saw one that was titled ‘Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction’ and was intrigued.

Another article in January/February Scientific American Mind 2013 related to mindfulness; it is titled ‘Focus on Your-self to Alleviate Social Pain’. The article discusses the benefits of mindfulness for pain, stress, anxiety and depression, but also how a new study recently that has shown it reduces feelings of loneliness or social isolation. Mindfulness was also shown to reduce inflammation and the risk of heart attacks.

So where did all this research start and why is there so much interest in mindfulness for health?

Taking to you-tube (as you do) I came across this one titled ‘The Healing Power of Mindfulness’.(1)

It has sparked my interest in Jon Kabat-Zinn who talks about his life and how at college he was one of 5 students who went to see a monk lecture on this topic. During the lecture he describes how he had one of those ‘Ah-ha!’ moments as he realised that what he had just been taught to do should be something that everyone gets to learn in kindergarten.

‘Being in the moment’ sounds like something we all could benefit from, but how many of us are actually present without our mobile phone, computer, television or radio?

I am sitting here with the computer and a phone so I am clearly not a shining example of being present within myself just right now.

When do we ever switch off?

Something else I am interested in is the research into ‘neuroplasticity’.  Jon Kabat-Zinn studied molecular biology in 1971 at MIT.

In the film he talks about how studies have now gone on to show that not only is the mind plastic but so are genes, and he describes how the corrosive acid of stress wears down our DNA causing problems within the body. Mindfulness meditation research is showing that this can be stopped and reversed.

He has been teaching and studying the effects of mindfulness since 1979 and is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Although watching you-tube isn’t always a mindfulness practice, I was really relaxed and centered when I had finished watching, and participating at one point(audience participation!), spending time with this innovative out of the box thinker talking about his life’s work with mindfulness.

I hope you feel that you can take the time to watch him as well, and perhaps take away some of his mindful thoughts and experiences on the benefits of being present in the mind and body.

You come from nothing, you go back to nothing, it’s what you do in between that matters. Don’t you want to always be present?

(For people in the area there are some good classes advertised at the Treehouse if you are looking for a teacher http://www.treehousewales.co.uk/ )

1)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_If4a-gHg_I

2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn

Anybody who experiences headaches or migraine of any kind will appreciate this post on migraine and shiatsu!

Get in touch!

Nature is so unkind. Not only do women have the sole responsibility for childbirth and monthly menstruation for 30+ years of our lives, but we also suffer from debilitating migraines 3 times more than men. Although young boys may suffer from migraines more often than girls, after puberty approximately 18% of women will exhibit signs of a migraine within their lifetime while only 6% of men experience this painful condition.

Along with a hormonal connection, migraines appear to have a genetic component as well. If one parent suffers from migraines, their child has a 40% chance of experiencing them, too. If both parents exhibit symptoms of migraines, the incidence in their child increases to a staggering 90%!

Migraines differ from normal tension headaches in that pain is normally concentrated on one side of the head and accompanied by a host of other symptoms including light, smell, or sound sensitivities, disturbed…

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The Mystery of the Missed Connection – Review

Agenesis and the Corpus Callosum

Scientific American Mind (1) (2) January/ February 2013 published an interesting article on the ‘Corpus Callosum’ the connective bridge between the two hemispheres of the brain.

This particular article is very interesting as it discusses some of the common links of the area and research into Autism, Epilepsy and schizophrenia to name a few.

Critically, it discusses how neuroplasticity can affect ‘re-wiring’ of the brain if this structure is missing.

Because the corpus callosum is central it has many roles such as motor skills, attention and memory. It joins up the two hemispheres and helps them work together.

Although the article doesn’t discuss how hormones impact on the tissue in the Corpus Callosum it is a very interesting article about neuroplasticity and its implications.

In particular the article features a condition known as Agenesis – see this blog link for one of the contributors (http://agenesiscorpuscallosum.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/acc-mystery-of-missed-connection.html). Of particular interest is the self- advocacy website attached to the blog for families and people with this rare condition see here: http://scenicbeauty.tripod.com/AngelsAroundTheWorld.html

This explains that Agenesis is a rare condition where children are born with out or only a partial corpus callosum.

I have read about the corpus callosum before in relation to Einstein who was dyslexic and had epilepsy. (3)

When the brain of Albert Einstein was cut up, it was discovered that he had a much thicker corpus callosum but other areas of his brain were deficient. (4)

In terms of neurodiversity and neuroplasticity I am very interested in the findings of the article.

As a follow up I had a look for information about hormones and the corpus callosum which was very interesting, as this e-book link (5) discusses findings in relation to difference in connectivity between the sexes and the studies relating to thickness of the corpus callosum caused by sex hormones which appear to have a great impact on the development of this area.

The author light heartedly puts forward the difficulties of studying sex difference and cognitive ability, and some of the problems (I mean arguments) this can cause between scientists.

I thought it was interesting that one piece of research seemed to suggest that the greater thickness of connectivity in the corpus callosum could account for better verbal skill/ connectivity in women! 🙂

1) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-mystery-of-the-missed-connectio

2)http://www.nature.com/scientificamericanmind/journal/v23/n6/full/scientificamericanmind0113-54.html

3) http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewArticle.asp?id=19984

4)http://recievemore.com/?tag=corpus-callosum

5)http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2zNNhXqlJP4C&pg=PA199&lpg=PA199&dq=corpus+callosum+hormones&source=bl&ots=7I8iYq-ZMW&sig=r-QeVzRsFhFjs2YpqUI9vAX2x2Q&hl=en&sa=X&ei=VP_4UNnSFISW0QXB3oDwDA&sqi=2&ved=0CGIQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=corpus%20callosum%20hormones&f=false

Ode to Homeopathy

 

My meditation,no more medication

Food for thought

Not good for contemplation,

Is life not hard enough without demotivation?

 

Difficult to see through fog

A path is hard to find,

The mind becomes a quagmire

I am lost and I am blind.

 

Challenged pharmaceutically

Is blood thicker than water?

The memory of what went before

Impressed upon a daughter

 

Given up biology

A need to go much smaller,

The head confined into a cell

It takes time to walk taller.

 

Where did I go wrong?

Prison is not the place to dwell,

For ignorance is only bliss

When not in living hell.

 

Physics shone like a blinding light

For the answer was inside,

My knight in shining armour

Now there’s no place left to hide.

 

Mind and body reunited

A homeopath was my guide

The soul is not a cell I feel

As a whole I now reside.

 

Thank you http://mariangray.co.uk/  I’v been accepted onto Acupucture course – you did a good job hunny, hope you enjoy seeing the world.

 

More Health and Exercise Condition Management

Wales National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS) – Cynllun Atgufeirio Cleifion I Wneud ymarfer Corff Cymru

Thank you once again to my ‘Yoga I Bawb’ teacher Alyson for pressing a guest blog from me in relation to health. If you are interested in reading it is at:

http://alysonyoga.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/yoga-for-weight-loss-and-peace-guest-post/

I thought that this would be a good opportunity to draw people’s attention to the Welsh Government scheme Wales National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS).  Aimed at 17 years of age and over, who are not used to being regularly physically active and have a medical condition, the scheme is designed to provide opportunities to exercise that are fun; rewarding and that can be incorporated into every-day life.

It consists of a wide range of activities both gym based and class based to choose from for patients that have been through a rehabilitation programmes. The benefits are listed as weight management, reduction of blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease and strokes, reduction of cancer risk, reduced stress and anxiety, improve mental and social wellbeing, increased energy, improve strength, mobility, co-ordination and balance and improved health and wellbeing.

The link for information is: http://www.wlga.gov.uk/ners

To be referred you need to approach your GP/practice nurse/health professional. Give it a go!

I have not had experience of this scheme myself but would be interested to hear from people with any feedback that they would like to share.

Perhaps there is a similar project helping people with health conditions through exercise in your area?

Guest Post – Who Am I?

Today I am very honoured to have a guest blog post from http://rosewinelover.com/

Thank-for sharing your experiences!

First of all, I would like to thank Epilepsy Me And Neurology for inviting me to guest blog here. This has added a whole new aspect to my line of “work” – to advocate for epilepsy  from my living room, reaching a target audience all over the world.

So, who am I? Allow me to introduce myself…

My name is Gemma. I’m a thirty-nine year old housewife, married to a wonderful man who I have been with for five years now. I have a profoundly autistic son from a previous marriage, who lives with a foster family because I am not strong enough – physically or mentally – to be able to handle his behaviours without significant harm coming to others and myself. I do love him fiercly though, and so my husband and I visit him as often as we can. Continue reading

Epilepsy and Migraine Could Have A Shared Genetic Link BBC News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20908903

Some of you may have seen this already but the BBC have reported on Epilepsy and Migraine may have a shared genetic link.

The study was done by Colombia University New York and show a higher incidence of Migraine in relatives of people closely related with epilepsy.

To some the idea that epilepsy and migraine are related is not new, but this is an interesting study.

Thanks for passing it on mum!

 

Art House Meath Epilepsy Charity Blog

http://thearthousemeath.blogspot.co.uk/p/about.html

My sister found this wonderful charity blog which is a charity that specialise in making, selling and celebrating the art work of people with with learning difficulties and severe epilepsy.

There are prints and giftcards for sale at the links provided at the blogspot address link above.

Arthouse Meath