Woman reading a book with pleasure next to a stack of more books

Brain Booster Part 2

In part 2, we focus on natural treatments that can be used to help train your brain to be stronger.  Powerful tools such as biofeedback can be used to map your brain and help formulate a plan to develop your brain. So what exactly is biofeedback? Biofeedback is a technique where sensors are connected to your head that can map your brainwaves. You’re asked to do certain tasks and think about certain things to set a baseline, and then gradually learn to control certain parts of your brain by concentrating, relaxing muscles, thinking certain thoughts- over time it gives you super powers! Well, not really, but it can sometimes feel like it! So how does this work exactly?
Biofeedback and brain training work by teaching you how to control many aspects of what are normally autonomic actions by your body. Much of the magic is in the measurement. By taking various measurements while you pay attention to the results, you can learn to sense in real numbers what various brain and body states feel like. The next step is to try to influence the readings by responding with various behavior like deeper breathing, contracting or relaxing muscles, and meditating or thinking calm thoughts. There are other types of sensors than those that monitor brain waves, though.  Other types of sensors and training that can be used for biofeedback include:
Breathing– Sensors are paces around your chest and abdomen that monitor your breathing rates. Training in controlling breath rate, deepness of breath, and how to hold your breath to help control your breathing can all be effective in helping to control stress and to keep the heart, brain, and muscles functioning more efficiently. 
Heart Rate– Sensors are placed on your chest or wrists to monitor your heart rate and heartrate variability, or placed on your fingers or earlobes to measure blood flow. In  either case correlating changes in these factors can help you make a connection to the types of actions and habits result in higher or lower heart rates, hrv, and blood flow. Eventually the connection can be made to how using your mind to relax the body and control breathing can result in controlling these factors as well. These types of devices can also demonstrate peak performance levels for you when engaging in athletic activities and can let you know how much is enough, and how much is too much. Some of these sensors are available as wearables like smart watches and rings, or chest straps and can be used at home during everyday activities and exercise. Meeting with your health professional to establish a plan and go over results can result in even better health gains.
Muscles– Muscle monitoring (EMG) can be done by placing muscle sensors over major muscles and measuring their contraction. This can be useful for people with muscles injuries, diseases which atrophy the muscles, and any athletes that are trying to improve endurance, speed, or strength.  These measurements are correlated to various physical activities to find sweet spots for each person in muscle training and muscle recovery. Usually, this is most effective while on equipment and hooked up in a doctor’s office or specialist center. 
Sweat/Temperature– Special sweat gland sensors can be hooked up to your fingers or palms to  help monitor what events outside of physical activity can make you sweat. This helps to monitor anxiety as does temperature assessment. Both of these functions can potentially be done via wearables, and can help link exactly which events are stressors. Identifying these can help you prepare for these events beforehand and to develop relaxation techniques to cope.