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Posts Tagged ‘OCD’

Brain Training for Addiction and Substance Use Disorders: Non-Medical Breakthrough Therapies for the 21st Century

The Current Situation – Great Cause for Alarm!

There has been a distinct disconnect between the “mind” and “brain” sciences when it comes to addiction, and what is looked at more and more as being at the root of addiction and substance use – learning and behavioral disorders. In her ground-breaking book, Unbroken Brain: A revolutionary new way of understanding addiction, Maia Szalavitz states:

“Our brains are embodied – much of the problem with the debate over addiction and psychiatry more generally is a refusal to accept this and our ongoing need to see “physical”, “neurological”, and “psychological” as completely distinct.”

There is a fundamental flaw with this outdated thinking, a flaw that has in part led to skyrocketing heroin usage (especially among those ages 18-25) and overdose rates that have quadrupled since 2010[1]. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, illicit drugs cost the US nearly $200 billion annually, just behind alcohol and tobacco use ($224 and $295 billion, respectively)[2]. Not to mention, the obvious cost of lives lost, fractured relationships, and communities being torn apart.

Clearly, things are getting worse, not better. Substance use is becoming harder than ever to treat given the broad scope of substances being used, increasing potency levels, rates of consumption, varied methods of delivery, decreasing age of usage, and the numerous learning and behavioral issues those with addiction have prior to onset that have not been appropriately treated (or, treated with medications that may lead to, or complicate, the addiction itself).

At the Root of the Problem

ADHD, anxiety, OCD, ODD, anxiety, depression, sensory processing disorders, schizophrenia, and PTSD are just some of the many learning, behavioral, and mental health disorders that cause people to seek balance in their life through use of chemical substances. The long-held belief that addiction is genetic and an inevitable consequence for the affected, or that substance users are damaged and incapable of recovery, is beginning to dissolve. So are many of the tough love and shaming techniques that have been the norm across the addictions treatment arena for well over half a century.    

Time for a Paradigm Shift

To understand that learning dictates behavior, and that impaired learning will lead to behavioral patterns that will set the stage for addiction, is the first step in effectively dealing with substance use disorders. Most learning and behavioral challenges have physical and cognitive manifestations that can be measured (i.e. impaired eye movements, balance, timing, attention, memory, etc.), whether prior to or during the addiction recovery process[3].  

Once these impairments are measured, there are a host of research-backed Brain Training modalities that can be implemented by qualified professionals for correction of deficient function. This will lead to more effective remediation of the learning or behavioral disorder, and, ultimately, the seeking of normalcy through chemical dependence that is hallmark with substance use disorders.

Brain Training for Addiction and Substance Use Disorders

  • Brainwave Optimization – Better known as neurofeedback (NFB), neurobiofeedback, or neurotherapy. NFB, while available since the 1950s, has gained significant popularity in the recovery arena as of late. Through sophisticated computer analysis, one is trained to self-regulate brainwave activity by hearing sounds or other reinforcements that signal a more desirable or efficient state of function within the brain has been obtained.
  • Training of Brain Timing – Temporal processing is the rate at which sounds can be processed in the brain. When one is unable to process at sufficient and accurate rates, learning will be impaired and behavior impacted. Programs like the Interactive Metronome® have been shown to improve learning capacity, attention and focus, and decrease destructive impulsive and repetitive behaviors.
  • Training of Balance – The balance (vestibular) system, which is made up of structures in the inner ear and is directly influenced by systems of vision, posture, and hearing, is directly plugged into our frontal brain[4]. This more “human” part of our brain has a profound influence on learning and behavior and is positively impacted by improvements in balance and coordination.
  • Training of Eye Movements – Fixating on a target in your visual field, moving your eyes slow or fast, watching an object move closer or further away, and certain inborn eye reflexes help to make us uniquely human. Many of the control centers of these functions live in our frontal brain. Correction of certain faults in eye movements can lead to improved cognitive abilities.
  • Neurological Rehabilitation – While training of balance and eye movements fall into this category, they have been given separate explanation given their heavy influence on learning and behavior. Complex motor skills, whole body vibration, electrical stimulation, strength and conditioning, smell and sound therapies, and so much more impact the brain in a positive way to minimize the effects of learning and behavioral issues on one’s life.
  • Metabolic Therapies – To address brain function without paying mind to the numerous nutritional and metabolic factors that go into a properly functioning brain is akin to throwing a bunch of random ingredients together and hoping it turns out like your favorite dish. Blood sugar, stress hormones, neurotransmitters, micronutrients, food allergies, among countless other factors, are just a sampling of what can be evaluated, and in many cases corrected, via dietary shifts and nutraceutical intervention.

A New Era for Addiction and Substance Use Disorders

While mental health therapies have been, and always will be, an integral component of a sound addiction recovery strategy; more is needed. It is abundantly clear that what is in fact needed are scientific, evidence-based strategies to address the underlying learning and behavioral issues that are the hallmark of any addiction profile. What is needed is Brain Training… To measure and manage numerous ‘biomarkers’ of brain function with sophisticated diagnostic testing, and effect positive change in these markers through progressive neurological training modalities. This, in concert with the more traditional mental health options, is what holds the greatest hope for recovery in those battling addiction and substance use disorders!

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/heroin.html

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics

[3] http://apexbraincenters.com/blog/5-important-tests-to-consider-when-seeking-treatment-for-addiction/

[4] http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnint.2014.00059/full

5 Important Tests to Consider When Seeking Treatment for Addiction

Addiction way out problem sign. Prevention and cure addiction problem concept.Addiction or, more appropriately, substance use disorder (SUD) is defined as one’s recurrent use of drugs and/or alcohol leading to significant clinical and functional impairment. This impairment may be reflected in the areas of physical and mental health, employment, school, relationships, finances, and more.

One thing is for certain – the vast majority of those struggling with SUD also have underlying challenges with learning and behavior, and may have one or more mental health disorders. While the reasons for these underlying challenges are likely as many as the number of challenges themselves, this shifting of perspective away from the genetic view of addiction offers great hope for those seeking progressive therapies that, in many cases, can have a profound impact on the underlying disorders and the problem behaviors and outcomes associated with SUD.

Newer thinking also dictates that addictive tendencies can be due to factors such as concussion and traumatic brain injury, and metabolic imbalances caused by food allergies, environmental toxicities, nutrient deficiencies, and the like. And let’s not forget stress…  

In order for progressive brain-based modalities to be delivered effectively, which provide a tremendous complement to standard mental health strategies implemented during both in-patient and out-patient programs alike, one needs to understand that SUD is not a disease as we would normally think of one (e.g. cancer, Parkinson’s, etc.), and it is not a moral failing or a character flaw on the part of the user. SUD can affect anyone… of any class, race, gender, and ethnicity.

SUD is in fact a ‘brain problem’ that, in many respects, can be measured and needs to be approached as such for maximum gains. Let us consider 5 areas of measurement related to brain function that reveal a great deal about learning, behavior, and mental health status; and, more importantly, let us realize that something can be done to improve upon function in any or all of these areas:

  • Brainwave Activity (EEG) – In our brain we have networks related to attention, vision, sensations, relaxation, emotions, vital functions, and more. How much delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma brainwave activity we have under different circumstances dictates how well various parts of these networks perform. Quantitative EEG (qEEG) is gaining popularity in select mental health circles as an extremely viable diagnostic tool that can enable us to peer into the inner workings of the brain and these brain networks that make us uniquely human.  
  • Cognitive Testing – Executive function, cognitive flexibility, simple and complex attention, and processing speed are just a few of the tests of higher cognitive function that can reveal a great deal about how one’s brain interacts with its environment. They are also excellent diagnostic tools for monitoring progress when treating the various subsets of learning and behavioral issues underlying SUD.
  • Metabolic Function – Blood sugar, amino acids, urine organic acids, food antibodies, heavy metals, environmental toxins, hormones, neurotransmitters, vital nutrients, genetic variants, and so much more are a mix of both classic and progressive ‘biomarkers’ of brain function. How our bodies handle fuel, utilize nutrients, process hormones, and react to toxins in our environments determines how well our brains handle what is presented to them on a moment to moment basis.
  • Eye Movements – Generally ignored in the mental health arena from a diagnostic perspective, eye movements of all types are directly related to the brain regions that control them. From primitive abilities of finding visual targets that involve parts of the brainstem and emotional centers like the amygdala (fear response), to fast eye movements controlled by our higher functioning frontal lobes; eye movements deliver a wealth of information related to SUD and its underlying causes. Videonystagmography (VNG) is one type of diagnostic tool used to measure these types of functions.
  • Balance and Coordination – More and more, addiction based programs are implementing movement based activities such as Tai Chi and yoga. From both balance and relaxation standpoints, there is good reason to do so. Our sense of self is largely influenced by our ability to physically interact with our environment. When one has severe balance or coordination impairment, as is seen in conditions like schizophrenia, mental function and behavior will likely be impaired. Measurement tools such as dynamic posturography and standard tests of movement and coordination can be utilized to measure these abilities.

The inherent beauty of any of these tools, that can reveal a wealth of information about cognitive, behavioral, and mental functions, is that they can in turn be utilized to track progress when one enters into a collaborative treatment program with their mental health specialists and qualified functional neurologist. The blending of the ‘brain’ and the ‘mind’ sciences is long overdue and is proving to be clinically effective with regard to its impact on addiction and SUD, and the underlying disorders that are being shown with greater clarity to be the root cause of them.

The APEX ‘Day of Discovery’

Day of DiscoveryAnalyzing brain activity

  • Is your brain not working as well as it used to?
  • Have you been struggling with a recent or lifelong brain performance issue that you want answers for?
  • Or, do you simply want to know how well your brain is working to ensure it is serving you optimally?
  • If you knew there was something you could do to tell, would you do it?

…If so, APEX Brain Centers’ comprehensive ‘Day of Discovery’ is just what you’ve been looking for.

What is it?

The Day of Discovery is an extremely valuable and critical investment in your health, longevity and prosperity. Fear of a declining brain is one of the top issues of our time, and this unique opportunity puts the power of informed guidance in your hands to make the best choices possible for your brain and body health. By investigating numerous ‘biomarkers’ of brain health and integrity, we are able to connect the dots between your experience of life and your current state of brain and body function.

Your Day of Discovery will include the following:

  • Comprehensive history and review of previous diagnostic testing
  • Comprehensive neurological exam looking at functions of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system
  • Quantitative EEG (qEEG) for measurement of brainwave activity
  • Cognitive testing to assess memory, attention, executive function and more
  • Videonystagmography (VNG) for detailed assessment of eye movements
  • Dynamic posturography for investigation of multiple aspects of balance
  • Interactive Metronome testing of mental and physical timing capabilities
  • Review of all testing with precise recommendations for appropriate intervention

What should I expect and how do I prepare?

Your Day of Discovery will take anywhere from 4-6 hours depending on physical ability, level of fatigue, technical factors and any unforeseen circumstances. You will spend the duration of the day in our office and should pack a healthy lunch/snack depending on time of day. You should do your best to obtain quality sleep prior to your Day of Discovery, refrain from alcohol/recreational drug/cigarette intake, maintain adequate hydration, eat a healthy breakfast the morning of testing, bring copies of any pertinent diagnostic tests with you, be on time to ensure the smoothest of transitions throughout the day, not wear any skin care products/make-up/hair gel, and bring a positive and proactive attitude with you as this day is designed to empower you with critical information to help you create positive change in your life; not to point out flaws in your performance!

Call us today at 828.708.5274 to set up your Day of Discovery, or email us at [email protected] for more information.

Love…Between the Ears

Heart and brain concept. Reason or heartTestosterone, estrogen, dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, oxytocin and vasopressin…

These brain chemicals and hormones have everything to do with all phases of love, from attraction or ‘love at first sight’ to long-term relationships and attachment.

The phase of superficial attraction vs. the deeper bonding you may be in dictates what chemicals will be present and in what amounts. Also, factors such as gender and overall physical and mental health play a role in what stages of love one is (or isn’t) in based on the nature and quantity of chemicals produced.

In general, earlier stages of attraction are dominated by adrenaline and dopamine; which account for behavioral traits of being clumsy and tongue tied due to stress responses encountering your love interest with the former, and having increased focus and energy with the latter. Serotonin is what can get you into trouble as this is what causes you to focus on your attraction more than anything else – very similar to the decrease in serotonin levels observed in those with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The latter stages of attachment and deeper bonding are orchestrated primarily by oxytocin and vasopressin; although other factors are present at all stages in varying amounts, depending on level of attachment and continued attraction. Oxytocin has been called the “cuddle hormone” and is an integral part of bonding between couples, mother and child, and, interestingly enough, dogs and their humans.  (our four-legged friends produce this when they see their favorite person). Vasopressin has been shown to enhance interpersonal relationships through positive communication.

So, while we don’t want to dissect this most natural of emotions too much during the Valentine’s Day season, a basic understanding of the brain chemicals discussed and the many influences upon them (e.g. diet, exercise, stress, sleep, environmental factors, brain injury, mental health disorders, etc.) is in order for you to better understand how you view the world and how it views you through the “eyes of love”.

iPads for Everyone!!!

Logo concept FINAL_RGB_WEBEveryone that signs up for a 5 or more day full intensive training program at APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC, that is! (Unique offer details below).

While technology and all that come with it can cause significant impairment for many, it can also be used to provide an extreme advantage when it comes to Training your Brain. The ever-growing list of hi-tech applications (apps) for mobile devices and tablets is astounding, many of which hold significant promise for re-training brain dysfunction, and for improving upon already strong performance in those looking to reach their peak potential. As with anything, there is a downside – apps used improperly and not under expert guidance can, in some cases, be counter-productive, and even harmful!

The following are the main areas of apps for brain performance: 

  • Memory and Attention: We have all heard of that brain training program that begins with ‘L’ that most folks pronounce incorrectly! While this and many other similar apps are quite useful and largely without side-effects, they may not be providing all they claim in the absence of a comprehensive brain health program. 
  • Eye movements: The secret is out, eye movements are directly related to our higher, more human, cognitive brain functions. A simple Google search of ‘eye movements and cognition’ should get you rolling there! The challenge is that these sensitive windows into higher brain function can very easily be trained incorrectly, leading to further dysfunction or significantly limiting peak performance. User beware: Expert direction is essential with these type of apps! 
  • Neurofeedback/Biofeedback: By far the newest and most concerning area of mobile brain training, app stores are piling up with programs that will help you regulate your brainwaves, heart rate, muscle tension, and more. Common sense should let you know that training your brainwaves in the absence of higher education in neurophysiology and neuroplasticity might not be a very wise choice. Once again, user beware!

Although just a sampling of what’s available in the various app stores in the cyber world, the take home message here is that ANY effort in training your brain should be directed by a qualified health care provider trained in these areas of brain performance for maximum benefit and decreased probability of side-effects.

Enter the iPad…

All clients entering into a 5 or more day full intensive training program at APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC through May 31, 2015 will receive a FREE iPad Mini with Retina Display (or comparable device) as a valuable aid to your brain training program, and to help you continue progress once discharged. All you would need to do is have an iTunes account to purchase any needed applications (typically less than $35.00), and the desire to make your brain the best possible brain it can be.

This special offer is not to be combined with any offers and you must reference this post at the time of consultation or admission for validation purposes. Let us help you harness the power of technology and put you in the driver’s seat on your journey to Building a Better Brain!

3 Real Life Examples of Brain Plasticity

Brain plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity, is the brain’s ability to change and grow over time in response to its environment. Changes can happen either fast or slow, and they can be positive or negative. The following examples show how Brain Training relies on neuroplasticity to benefit people who need to make positive changes. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

Recovering from Brain Trauma

BL’s brain sustained a shock wave injury from an explosive device (IED) blast while serving our country in the Middle East. He later sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) when a car struck him. These traumas caused BL to have severe cognitive and behavioral dysfunction, most notably anger and rage issues. These issues were significantly impairing his ability to re-integrate into society and his professional civilian career. He also suffered from a condition called dysautonomia as a direct result of his head injuries. This condition forced him to consume an extraordinary amount of calories every day (nearly 10 thousand) just to maintain his weight. Through a course of Intensive Brain Training, supported with home care and nutritional therapies, BL is now gainfully employed as a licensed professional and working his way up the ladder. His rage is in check and no longer gets him into dangerous situations. He is also able to eat a typical diet (no more than 3500 calories per day) without losing an unhealthy amount of weight.

ADD, ADHD, OCD and Brain Plasticity

PJ is a young man who has struggled with learning and behavioral challenges his entire life. Drug and alcohol abuse compounded his problems and prematurely side-tracked him from a productive life. He quit high school just prior to graduation and found himself unable to take high school equivalency (GED) examinations. Instead of working or going to school, he spent his time in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. During PJs Brain Training Program with APEX he achieved pre-test scores that allowed him to proceed with taking all parts of his GED testing and he achieved high passing grades in all subjects. He has since enrolled in our local community college and is well on his way to a productive life. His brain is now capable of focusing and attending to life’s challenges!

Enhancing Cognitive Performance

BA is a young woman who suffered years of neglect and abuse as a young child. The abuse led to cognitive dysfunction and learning disabilities that prevented her from learning to read. BA’s developmental disabilities have caused her, as well as her adoptive family, much emotional turmoil. Her inability to ‘think things through’ led to more destructive behaviors, including illegal actions. Less than one week after a 5-day Intensive Brain Training Program, BA was able to pick up a book for the first time in nearly 5 years and read cover to cover with ease and full comprehension. That is something her brain would not allow her to do previously! Her cognitive testing scores increased, including improvements that exceeded 100%, most notably in the areas of memory and attention. Furthermore, she is now showing signs of remorse for the first time for many of her past wrongdoings. Although BA is far from full recovery, she is well on her way to regaining control of her life and becoming a productive, contributing member of her community.

What is Neurofeedback and QEEG?

eeg capWhile it is just one of a number of potentially life-changing interventions in our ‘Brain Intensive’ training program here at Apex Brain Centers, it is important to take a moment to further describe what neurofeedback (NFB) and quantitative EEG (qEEG) are as many are unfamiliar with either one or both, although though they have been around for quite some time and are deeply rooted in the scientific literature.

Let’s take a trip…  Think of a qEEG as the map that is needed to get you to your destination and the NFB as the vehicle that will get you there.  The destination itself could be the ability to focus and concentrate better, sleep better, wake better, relax better, listen better, talk better, react better, move better, perform better in academics, athletics and the arts, feel less pain, reduce dependence on alcohol, drugs and food, and, in many cases, simply to feel better.

A qEEG (the map) is in fact referred to as a brain map as it is the very tool that is used to guide the provider and client alike through a course of training to improve a multitude of brain functions and abilities.  Brain maps are an extension of the common EEG tests that are utilized to measure specific brain waves in individuals that have a history of seizures, brain injury, sleep disorders, behavioral problems and more.  The EEG is data from the brain that is recorded from electrodes places at precise locations on the head, the various brain waves having precise physical measurements associated with them.  This data is then run through a variety of sophisticated computer software programs and normative databases, which the individual’s brain waves are compared to and a brain map created…hence, the qEEG.  As your GPS might have several maps for you to choose from when you determine where you want to go on a road trip, the various brain maps obtained by different databases and software systems will likely differ as well.  It is the clinical wisdom of your provider, coupled with a reliable map, that will ensure you are well equipped to get you to your destination in the timeliest manner with the least amount of detours along the way.  Of course, there is also the vehicle to consider…

As with cars, there are many types of NFB (the vehicle) with the level of sophistication and advanced applications and features ever-changing; exponentially in the recent past as with any other technology.  NFB, in nutshell, is a form of biofeedback that uses the above-mentioned electrical brain recordings to take the client through a process of brain self-regulation.  The feedback used to train the brain can be in the form of sounds, visual demonstrations, video games, movies and more whose performance is directly impacted by the real-time brain waves emitted by the client.  The more the client’s brain waves fall within the parameters prescribed by the clinician in the training software, the better the performance of the vehicle and driver (client), and the faster and more efficiently the client will arrive at their destination.  It is the constant positive reinforcement of the target brain wave ranges over the duration of NFB training that will ensure the greatest amount of plastic change within the brain and less reliance on the maps to tell it how to get to its desired location.  This is indeed hi-tech learning at its finest!

As suggested above, the destination can vary widely from individual to individual, although the process and routes taken are often quite similar in nature.  The key to a successful journey again is having the appropriate map and vehicle to arrive at your preferred destination; and having this coordinated by a clinician aptly educated and qualified to supervise and coordinate this endeavor.  At Apex Brain Centers we utilize Brainmaster Technologies qEEG and NFB equipment and software that is FDA approved and suited for research in both arenas.  We would use nothing but the best map and vehicle, coupled with a rich understanding of the human brain, to get you to your destination!

Call us at 828.708.5274 to learn more about this exciting technology and how it can help you and your loved ones.

From the Admissions Desk

Mike ErvinWhat is Apex Brain Centers and how is it a Revolution in Brain Training?

Quick answer: Yes, you CAN improve your brain function and we have discovered that high frequency and calculated intensity of brain training is the best approach to help you reach your peak level of function and performance.  We have been taught through the years that there is little we can do to improve certain conditions such as addiction, adult learning and behavioral issues, certain mental health issues, or reaching and sustaining the top level of professional and physical performance.  We have also been taught that we just need to study harder to get better scores when taking tests for the next level of education.  These things are not necessarily true.  While we are born with or have things happen to us causing us to struggle with certain aspects of our lives, there is ALWAYS hope we can improve from where we are or from what we have lost!

At first I thought Apex Brain Centers was just about helping specific people with specific conditions reach a higher level of function.  This falls a bit short of our true mission and purpose: Offering people HOPE when they have been told over and over again that there is no hope beyond where they are (this hope is often hard to find).  Apex Brain Centers can help open pathways in the brain quickly and with long lasting results.  It does not need to take months or years to improve as the plasticity of the brain allows for new pathways to be formed leading clients and their families to find new ways of getting to where they always wanted to get to, and do things they always hoped to do!

As the admissions director for Apex, it’s exciting to know I have been and will be in contact with people offering them HOPE and a solid way to get on track with their purpose in life. The Apex Team can help you learn more about the process of making positive changes in your brain quickly.  This can be done in just a few weeks and much less expensively than current methods.  When you are on a road trip and you get lost or turned around, you look for the best and quickest way to get where you wanted to go.  Apex is here to help you find the right direction and the quickest path; saving you time, energy, and money in the process.

This past week I was privileged to witness what we do in a powerful way (video testimonial coming soon).  A young man who has had significant lifetime learning and behavioral struggles was able to show his mother the work he has been doing (Mother: “I can see the changes he making, he has a smile and he was up early asking to go to breakfast, just not something he does.”).  The smile on both of their faces says it all!

Should you find yourself struggling with certain aspects of your life, not living up to your own potential, or you just want to reach the next level of performance; Apex Brain Centers is here to offer you HOPE and effective interventions to help you along your way.

Call us and discover the Revolution in Brain Training for yourself.  We will help you reach Your PEAK.

Mike Ervin

Admissions Director, Apex Brain Centers

The Wave of the Not-So-Distant Future – ‘Brain Intensive’ Training

Logo concept FINAL_RGB_WEBWhile one of the biggest buzzwords in the learning and behavioral disorder treatment arena, among others, is ‘Intensive’; there are numerous takes on this seemingly simple term.  For some it conjures up images of multiple treatment modalities being delivered concurrently; and for others, one modality delivered at a very high frequency and/or duration.  With regard to duration of care, some may consider 3 times per week as being intensive, and others may feel nothing less than 2-3 times per day should be labeled as intensive.

At Apex Brain Centers, we focus on a ‘Brain Intensive’ approach towards a host of learning and behavioral concerns, as well as TBI and human performance.  Our definition of ‘Brain Intensive’ is delivering multiple research-based brain training modalities (both hi and low tech) over short periods of time (1-2 weeks) at a high frequency (average of 3 times per day) with absolute respect paid to ‘neurological fatigue’.  These protocols are directed by, and neurological fatigue measured by, objective testing data (i.e. neurological examination, electrodiagnostic testing, autonomic monitoring, etc.), as well as subjective feedback.

The foundation of our methodology, as in many programs, is the concept of neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to change and grow (for better or worse) dependent upon the environment in which it is kept.  The key difference, in addition to the high frequency/high intensity delivery model, with our approach is the ability to deliver sensory feedback (i.e. auditory, somatosensory, visual, olfactory, etc.) specific for the neurological deficit/s uncovered by examination and testing to correct the underlying brain dysfunction.  Research supports the fact that most, if not all, learning and behavioral challenges can be looked at as aberrations in hemispheric symmetry, lateralization and integration, as well as disconnection and hypo/hyper functioning in and between the various lobes of the brain.  Working within the context of neuroplasticity, we understand there are 3 critical components with regard to creating positive plastic changes within the brain: the frequency and intensity of the sensory experience, and fuel delivery (i.e. metabolic functions).  Given the brain is a sensory-driven entity, delivering protocols specifically for the neurological deficit/s identified at a heightened frequency and intensity, while addressing challenges in metabolic function (i.e. poor diet, poor oxygenation, disease states, etc.), allows for more successful client outcomes.

Our strategy complements the wonderful world of residential and intensive outpatient programs, wilderness programs and transitional living facilities as we have observed time and time again over the years that improving and/or fixing the specific underlying brain dysfunction allows for more successful outcomes with behavioral modification, counseling, education; and nearly any other treatment, educational, or re-integration modality the client will partake in, if any.

Book Review: Spark – The Revolutionary Science of Exercise and the Brain

SparkBookReleased in January of 2008, the book Spark was a catalyst for massive change in my own personal life.  Being a perpetual student of neurology, and more specifically neuroplasticity, I am always on the lookout for new resources to share with my patients to help them on their quest for optimal health.  Dr. John Ratey does a superb job in this book outlining the physical changes that occur in our brains as a result of the various types of physical activity/exercise we perform; and for those that don’t exercise, it will give you incredible motivation to start the journey!

Many of us exercise because we feel we “have to”, or to burn calories, lose weight, build muscle and look better.  While these are good reasons, they typically do not sustain the motivation we need for lifelong health.  Dr. Ratey helps us to understand the countless chemical compounds that are produced as a result of various types of exercise (such as insulin like growth factor – IGF1, vascular endothelial growth factor – VEGF, brain derived neurotrophic factor – BDNF), and what these compounds do to improve our ability to handle blood sugar, repair blood vessels and establish connections within our nervous system.

It has been shown that our thoughts and emotions are an internalization of our body movements.  The way we move our bodies, and understanding the impact this has on our brains, is critical for battling many behavioral, psychological, biochemical and physical conditions.  Dr. Ratey outlines 7 specific conditions including anxiety, depression, and ADHD among others; which can benefit tremendously with appropriate and adequate physical activity.

There is an abundance of evidence supporting neurogenesis (new brain cell growth) as a result of physical activity, and this is explored within the pages of this book as well.

When you are done with this book you will feel that losing weight and looking better is merely a pleasant side effect of exercise, and not necessarily the most important effect.  I can speak from personal experience that this book will significantly change the way you view exercise as it has added a tremendous amount of new life to my quest for optimal health – and it has been nice to lose a few pounds and look better in the process!!

APEX Brain Centers is leading the way in neuroplasticity-based brain enhancement programs that are opening new doors for those struggling with addictions, learning and behavioral disabilities, test performance, athletic performance and more.

2 Walden Ridge Drive (STE 80) ~ Asheville, NC 28803 ~ 828.708.5274
© 2015 APEX Brain Centers