How I Healed My Brain (Through Brain Training)
Over the years between soccer, drinking exploits, irregular sleeping patterns, a worrisome anxious nature, bouts of depression and pessimism, my brain took a beating. I had an extraordinarily compulsive demeanor, regular irritability/anger issues, carelessness and had a hard time focusing on one conversation at a time. Then, I quit drinking in October 2017. While doing an inventory on my personality traits and what made those traits tick, I began to play with the notion of retraining my brain and how it works. It was time to retrain my brain from unconscious behaviors to conscious behaviors.
First off, I started practicing mediation to quell the worrisome mind by concentrating on the present and attempt to silence/suppress the compulsive behaviors. Then, in March 2018, the universe placed The Peak Brain Institute in the path of my journey to healing my brain. I had heard of Peak Brain from a client who knew of my quest and he told me of this brain training program that would test my brain by way of brain mapping using a QEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalograph) and set up a program that would train my brain to function at a higher level.
The testing started off with a compulsivity test. This compulsivity assessment was a basic auditory and visual measurement of alertness, focus and speed based on clicking a computer mouse. The goal was to respond to a series of visual and auditory cues of flashing and spoken numbers on the computer monitor in front of me. Then, the actual brain mapping was administered while I simply sat in a chair, staring at a little rubber cactus, attempting not to fall asleep while hooked up to 10’s of diodes that mapped my brain activity.
Now for the Geeky Science Part (Stay with me)
Once the assessments were completed and analyzed by Dr. Hill of UCLA (Founder of Peak Brain), he called me and broke down my results. He gave me an explanation of why I may be having the issues mentioned above and how we can set up a program to fix the issues.
He told me, based on my assessments and brain activity, that I was pretty compulsive, inattentive and irritable which were things I knew I was dealing with. The best part was, now I had an explanation. Dr. Hill told me that I had post concussive syndrome, which accounts for the irritability, was ruminating (stressing and worrisome), had auditory ADD accounting for the inattentiveness and the compulsivity, which may be due to irregular sleep habits among other lifestyle choices. In my messed-up mind, I took this as an excuse to be an ass, not listen and blame it on my brain, but what Dr Hill told me was, we could train my brain through neurofeedback training to quiet the over active areas of the brain and activate the underactive areas.
How is the Brain Trained?
When I first heard of brain training, I thought of crossword puzzles and the likes, but the neurofeedback is much more fun. I was sat in a nice comfortable chair with a cup of coffee and played a video game with my mind. I got to fly an airplane with my mind through hoops. The goal is to relax and quiet the mind. The calmer and more relaxed I was, the more times I flew through the hoops and gained points. When the mind began to wander or if I started to doze off, my plane went off course. When I was relaxed, but attentive, like a cat waiting to pounce on a mouse, I flew like Maverick from Top Gun (not the time when Goose dies). Each session was only 20 minutes long and I went 2 times a week for about 2 months. I continued to mediate daily, work on breathing techniques to quiet my mind as well being present in conversations and personal interactions on top of attempting to get better quality and quantity of sleep. The results speak for themselves.
I went back to Peak Brain a little over a year after my original testing to see if I had made any significant progress scientifically speaking and not just anecdotal. The findings were somewhat surprising after just 1 year. My attentiveness and focus had increased by 2 standard deviations, my impulsivity has improved, I am ruminating less, my sleep was still crap which didn’t change my irritability too much, but I am consciously and actively working on that (always room for improvement) and there are less signs of the depressive nature and pessimism.
With the neurofeedback training at Peak Brain, the lifestyle changes and the conscious effort to improve and heal my brain, I have made progress towards a healthier more efficient brain, giving me a better quality of life. That’s a winner in my book.