This alternative therapy uses real-time EEG data to help patients work to train their ADHD brains for intense focus, impulse control, and organized executive function. Studies are encouraging, but not conclusive. Here’s what you need to know.
Real-time data help us understand our response to stress but experts warn of unfounded claims in consumer tech
By Lisa Johnson, CBC News Posted: May 17, 2017 6:00 AM PT
Sitting in front of a computer screen is not normally considered a stress busting tactic.
But clinical counselor Hiroko Demichelis uses real-time data — from an array of sensors strapped to her clients — to help them learn relaxation techniques.
“I think we are all in a great need to explore the science of calming down,” she said.
“We all know about the accelerator in the Ferrari, but somehow we have forgotten, lost track of the brake.”
Among her clinical tools for biofeedback is an interesting metric called heart rate variability — a sort of proxy measure for stress that’s been used in studies to help pregnant women and army recruits.
It’s also frequently popping up in consumer-level stress tracking devices, though experts warn the accuracy and usefulness of those technologies may be works in progress.
Summary: Excess sugar — especially the fructose in sugary drinks — might damage your brain, new research suggests. Researchers found that people who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus. A follow-up study found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not.
Americans love sugar. Together we consumed nearly 11 million metric tons of it in 2016, according to the US Department of Agriculture, much of it in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages like sports drinks and soda.
Now, new research suggests that excess sugar — especially the fructose in sugary drinks — might damage your brain. Researchers using data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) found that people who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus — an area of the brain important for learning and memory.
A new mouse study reveals a set of neurons that may point to physiological roots for the calming effects of breathing control
By Diana Kwon on March 30, 2017 from Scientific American
During yoga pranayama exercises people practice controlling the breath, or prana, to induce a state of calm and focus. Paying attention to breathing and slowing down respiration is a core component of many mindfulness practices. Research suggests the practice has multiple benefits—it induces an overall sense of well-being while reducing anxiety and improved sleep.
But what exactly is going on in the brain during meditation? Imaging studies of humans have shown brain regions involved in mind-wandering, attention and emotion are involved in various stages of mindfulness practice. A new mouse study, published Thursday in Science, shows that neurons in the brain stem may also mediate the link between breathing and inducing a state of meditative calm.
By Daniel Barron on April 25, 2017 from Scientific American
It challenges our intuition to think that brain neurons like these are responsible for all of our thoughts, emotions and mental disorders—but they are. Credit: Nephron Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Earlier this month, JAMA Psychiatry published a groundbreaking addition to their journal’s line-up: an educational review intended to educate psychiatrists about neuroscience. A group of psychiatrists led by David Ross described how and why post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be clinically evaluated from a neuroscience framework. The fact that this editorial was published in one of psychiatry’s leading journals is no small feat.
Psychiatry houses a large and powerful contingency that argues neuroscience has little clinical relevance. The relevance of neuroscience to psychiatry was the subject of a recent Op-Ed debate in the New York Times: “There’s Such a Thing as Too Much Neuroscience” was rebutted with “More Neuroscience, Not Less.” This specific debate—and the dense politics as a whole—exists because competing frameworks are vying for competing funding, a conflict that pre-dates Freud’s departure from neurology. See the full article on Scientific American
Why, you might ask, would a client in addiction treatment be willing to sit with electrodes pasted to their head for 30-45 minutes twice a week while a computer beeps and buzzes in the background?
One of the benefits of Neurofeedback for recovering alcoholics and addicts is that it produces the similar effect of their drug of choice (to a lesser degree), without side effects and negative consequences.
What Is Neurofeedback?
Electroencephalography (EEG) is an electrophysiological monitoring method to record electrical activity of the brain. Think: white plastic sensors attached to your head that have wires that are connected to a main computer. Due to the brain’s ability to change and adapt new patterns (called neuroplasticity) the brain is able to create new neural pathways that, with time, become sustainable. In active addiction, the pathways that are created reinforce drug use. In recovery, we are trying to “rewire” these pathways.
The emWave and Inner Balance technologies, and the tools and techniques of the HeartMath system, are based on over 20 years of scientific research on the psychophysiology of stress, emotions, and the interactions between the heart and brain.
The Heart–Brain Connection
Most of us have been taught in school that the heart is constantly responding to “orders” sent by the brain in the form of neural signals. However, it is not as commonly known that the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart! Moreover, these heart signals have a significant effect on brain function – influencing emotional processing as well as higher cognitive faculties such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. In other words, not only does the heart respond to the brain, but the brain continuously responds to the heart.
Ed Finn is the author of “What Algorithms Want” (MIT Press). He is the founding director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, where he is an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
(CNN)The announcement of Elon Musk’s newest foray into the future, Neuralink, opens up a new chapter in one of humanity’s long-running dreams. What Neuralink proposes (and narratives like the recently-rebooted “Ghost in the Shell” have explored for decades) is a world in which the mind can be edited like software, changing memories, beliefs or personalities at the stroke of a keyboard. But we’ve learned a lesson from the thickening layer of computation in our lives, turning every toaster and toothbrush into a “smart” device: be careful what you wish for in networked intelligence.