Neuroplasticity is a term that describes the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, which is the connection point of one neuron to another, especially in response to learning or following an injury. It is our body and brain's ability to change themselves. To build new pathways and to reset internal systems. Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to continue growing and evolving in response to life experiences.
Historically, scientists assumed that the brain stopped growing after childhood. They saw the brain from a static perspective. They thought that "What you got is what you get." But recent research shows that the brain is dynamic and can continue growing and changing throughout our lives. It is constantly refining its architecture or shifting functions to different regions of the brain.
Neuroplasticity means that it is possible to change dysfunctional patterns of neural activity, thinking, and behaving and develop new mindsets, memories, skills, and abilities. It gives the brain the ability to function more effectively.
The brain can change
Have you ever "changed your mind?" The fact that the brain can change is incredible. How does that happen? The brain is constantly "wiring" and "rewiring" in response to environmental changes and new experiences. Neuroplasticity occurs on both an individual neuron level as well as a systemic level. It changes both in the actual physical structure and in its function. Scientists sometimes refer to the method of neuroplasticity as the structural renovation of the brain. The brain changes most swiftly in childhood, but it's now clear that the brain continues to develop throughout life. At any time, day-to-day actions can have measurable effects on brain structure and function.
So how does the brain change? Through a process called synaptic pruning. When we are born, we have excess synaptic connections. As we grow and develop, the brain eliminates extra synapses in early childhood and puberty. But what happens if this process does not occur properly? If we have a deficiency in pruning, we are left hyperconnected, making it difficult to focus this can lead to ADD conditions and Autism syndromes. We can also have excessive pruning as we age, such as in degenerative cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's conditions. Or we can have imbalanced pruning like in psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders such as multiple personality disorders and obsessive/compulsive disorders.
The brain will also change through a process called neurogenesis. Neurogenesis indicates the formation of new brain cells. Scientists long assumed that the brain was not capable of producing new neurons. Still, modern research has revealed that some areas of the brain, particularly the hippocampus, can generate new cells throughout adult life. The ability of the brain to adjust and grow in response to good or bad experiences enables individuals to bounce back from setbacks and adversity—to be resilient.
The interruption of neuroplasticity by severe stress or difficulty is distinctive of such conditions as depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. There is an actual loss of synapses. In these disorders, people get stuck in neural ruts.
In addition, aging diminishes resilience through the cumulative damaging effects of stress on neuroplasticity. The active ability of the brain to rewire itself in reaction to the experience makes a case for lifelong incentive as a way to retain optimal brain health and to lessen the threat of dementia, degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
Can the brain rewire itself after a damaging injury?
People who have suffered traumatic brain injuries have revealed the capacity for the brain to change and heal. The brain can migrate critical functions from a damaged area to a healthy one or recreate lost connections. Because of brain plasticity, the number of neurons dedicated to a particular body part can increase or decrease, and this can happen rapidly or slowly.
Can I stimulate neuroplasticity?
Not only is it possible it is also essential to use your mind and your body to remodel your brain. Improving synaptic connectivity through various means energetically encourages cognitive and mental health and blunts negative stimuli.
One of the most compelling ways to stimulate neuroplasticity in the brain is physical activity. Aerobic exercise improves the brain as much as the heart. The brain promotes the release of the substance known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which sets in action the growth of new synaptic connections and bolsters the strength of signals communicated from neuron to neuron.
Some of the best activities to promote neuroplasticity include keeping in positive social interactions, participating in novel activities, engaging in play, being in enriched and stimulating environments, practicing and repeating positive actions, participating in mental training strategies such as mindfulness meditation, and developing a sense of purpose in life.
Four types of brainwaves
So let us share one other aspect of neuroplasticity. Modern science has demonstrated that not only is our brain not static, but it is also very complex. It has also shown there are multiple types of brain waves that have significant differences in their function. These brainwaves are electrical impulses that are like musical notes. The four most prominent brainwaves are:
- Delta waves are seen as very low, slow, and similar to a loud beating drum. It occurs during the most profound meditation states and in dreamless sleep. It suspends external awareness and empathy and is where healing and regeneration occur. When delta waves are too high, ADD, and Autism syndromes can occur;
- Theta waves are a low-frequency impulse. It occurs during dream sleep and deep mediation. It is the gateway to memory, learning, and insight. In theta, our senses are removed from the external and focused within. It is where we dream and have vivid imagery beyond ordinary conscious awareness. It is where we hold our fears, and excess theta brainwaves are associated with anxiety disorders;
- Alpha, which can be separated into low and high, are the medium brainwaves. It is the daydreaming brainwaves and are dominant during quietly flowing thoughts and some meditative states. It is the "power of now." It is in the present. It is the brain's resting state and aids in overall calmness, alertness, mental/body integration, and learning. Excess alpha waves occur in those who have a difficult time engaging in work and activities;
- Beta: When awake are separated into low, medium, and high, beta are the high notes like a trumpet or flute. The beta brainwaves dominate our waking states of consciousness when directed towards cognitive tasks and the outside world. Beta brainwaves are fast, alert, attentive, engaged in problem-solving, judgment, decision making, or focused mental activity. Excess beta brainwaves can be associated with insomnia and anxiety issues.
Through brain mapping, we can evaluate the four prominent brainwaves for excesses, deficiencies, and imbalances and determine an appropriate treatment approach to help utilize neuroplasticity to bring balance to your brain.
Neurofeedback: Another treatment option
What if somebody advised you there was a way for you to reprogram your brainwaves? And that by doing so, you'd be able to alleviate a host of unpleasant symptoms ranging from anxiety to PTSD, to insomnia, and many more neurological symptoms? Neurofeedback, otherwise known as neuro-biofeedback, is the tool we can use to drive these modifications.
Neurofeedback is a form of brain exercise in which light and sound frequencies stimulate or quiet specific brainwaves in specific areas of the brain based on brain-mapping results. The surplus or lack of particular brainwaves in particular locations of the brain are associated with increases in specific symptoms. For example, high levels of beta in an area of the brain called F4 are linked to struggles with hypervigilance, anxiety, and rumination. Neurofeedback is a process that allows us as doctors to retrain the brain thereby balancing the brainwaves to be at optimal levels at the appropriate time. Think of it as physical therapy for the brain. Repeated sessions over weeks and months gradually improve and optimize brainwaves for better neurological health.
Conditions treated with neurofeedback
Through neurofeedback, we can help you balance neurologic activity to have the proper brainwave be the primary brainwave or the dominant frequency at the appropriate time. So, when you need a beta to be active so that you can work hard and focus on your job to get things done, it happens quickly and efficiently. Or when you need delta to be high, like when you're ready to start falling asleep, it works like it is supposed to, and you can rest and repair. Some of the brain issues that we can help treat with neurofeedback are things you may be familiar with, like ADD/ADHD, bipolar disorders, traumatic brain injuries, substance abuse, autism, and Alzheimer's. We can also help with conditions you might not associate with brain issues such as Lyme, Fibromyalgia, muscular weaknesses, and chronic pain syndromes. Lyme disease is a condition we frequently treat here in our clinic, and we have seen significant benefits of EEG testing and Neurofeedback. We have also seen huge improvements with patients with OCD and Tourette's.
In many cases, we see improvement of 30-40 percent in as little as ten sessions. We have patients who have trouble sleeping at night because of bad dreams, and within a few treatments, they can sleep through the night consistently and wake up refreshed. We are amazed at the significant changes we see when we help balance these brainwaves and restore healthy brain function. Not only can it help with substantial health issues, but it can also help athletes improve their performance or improve focus and performance in whatever their chosen endeavors may be.
At Docere Life Center, we take a very balanced, holistic approach to your well-being which allows us to give our patients the answers they have not been able to find anywhere else. Not only do we incorporate Neurofeedback into our approach to balancing brainwaves through our Clear Mind Therapy, but we also seek to balance your chemistry as well. We use SRT to evaluate for underlying chemical dysfunctions like toxicities and hidden infections like Lyme or parasites that can be causing the imbalance of the brainwaves and neurological symptoms. While using the brain entrainment device, we can find hidden issues brought to the surface to address them. Incorporating in our other modalities, we can address these issues as well. And we strive to balance your structure through traditional and cutting-edge approaches to your physical form. All to get you the results you seek.
Call today and let us help you live your best life!