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26.04.2014
Those looking to get an edge in and out of the gym are flexing their minds with neurofeedback. Sure, it sounds a bit Sci-Fi, but it may dial down your stress level and help you tap into your potential.
The practice (also commonly called biofeedback) has been proven effective for treating serious conditions including depression, PTSD, and ADHD, but in today’s techie-driven world many are now seeking it out to alleviate stress.
That balance is achieved gradually, rather than as a quick fix, though most people note feeling a difference after their first session.
New neurological findings from Israel show it is possible to self-teach a non-emotional way of putting the brakes on emotional reactions. Brains can be trained to improve their ability to ignore irrelevant information, resulting in reduced neurological reactions to emotional events, according to an Israeli neuropsychologist whose collaborative PhD research is the first study to demonstrate that this effect is possible to achieve through non-emotional training.
Noga Cohen’s study also showed that the same simple computer-training task can change the brain’s wiring, strengthening neural connections between brain regions involved in inhibiting emotional reactions. In the study, the brains of 26 healthy volunteers were monitored before and after multiple computerized training sessions using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The training involved a non-emotional “executive control task” of identifying whether a target arrow points to the right or to the left, while ignoring the direction of arrows on either side of it. The researchers hope to examine the impact of this non-emotional training on depressed or anxious individuals. Other contributors to the paper about the study, published  in the journal NeuroImage, are from the University of Haifa, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany and the National University of Singapore.


A previous study led by these authors has already shown that similar training can reduce the tendency to get stuck in a repetitive-thinking cycle about a negative life event. ISRAEL21c presents: All the top locations where Israel offers aid to people in need around the world. Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. The process, while complex and highly individualized, basically works like this: Non-invasive electrodes are attached to the surface of the scalp to measure brain waves and provide feedback as a specialized software program (often a video game) is watched. Because neurofeedback enhances the function of both the brain and the central nervous system, it can help you tap into that elusive state of flow, one in which mind and body are seamlessly in sync (read: without any conscious effort), making it a natural for the sports arena where athletes must perform like finely tuned machines. A resting-state fMRI scan assessed connections between brain regions during no specific task and later during an emotional reactivity task in which participants were asked to ignore negative pictures.
In addition, the intense training resulted in increased connectivity between participants’ amygdala and a region in the frontal cortex shown to be involved in emotion regulation,” reported Cohen. They say it may also be helpful for people at high risk of increased blood pressure in reaction to emotional information. The research was also supported by grants from Marie Curie Actions and from the Young Investigator Research program of the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel.
Brain Fitness capitalizes on neuroplasticity, the ability for a brain to rewire itself when experiencing something novel and non-routine.
We’re not talking Sudoku puzzles here (though they have their benefits), but rather neurofeedback—the process of hooking up to an electroencephalogram (EEG) in order to “train” your brain.


For example, the brain can get stuck in an anxious state and neurofeedback training enables it to shift into a calmer, more optimal state so it functions better. The software helps guide the brain into a more desired state through subtle and unconscious corrections, until the brain ultimately learns to perform at its best, naturally. Olympic athletes have used it as a training tool and tennis great Novak Djokovic—known for his open-minded approach to diet, health, and training—utilizes it to monitor his stress levels. Programs like Luminosity, PositScience, and HAPPYneutron encapsulate the science behind enhancing memory, attention, reasoning, visual-spatial awareness, and language in fun, engaging games.
Essentially, you’re aiding the brain’s ability to self-regulate,” says neurofeedback specialist Evelyn Shapero of the Brainfitness Centre in Los Angeles.
Think of it like a high-tech fitness coach, guiding you through exercises and correcting your form until, eventually, you no longer need the assistance. This powerpoint explores the background of neuroplasticity and brain fitness and gives an overview of most popular brain exercises.



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