Brain Training

Cathy sits in a student chair in Just Bakery’s classroom, running a device that resembles a TV clicker over her wrist as she talks out loud.  It beeps and flashes red lights against her skin.  The laser, she explains, emits frequencies that help the body to heal.  She recently sustained a burn on her wrist while doing some home car maintenance, and the beneficial frequencies will help her skin to repair itself.

Everything—living or not—has a frequency.  Cathy’s specialty is in the frequencies—or electrical signals—of the brain, and how to fine tune them to improve brain function.  Two days a week, Cathy and her team—the Madcity Brain Masters—provide free brain training services to the students of Just Bakery.  They arrive well before class starts to set up their equipment: computers, wires that attach to the head, headbands, papers, and more.  Students begin by playing a simple game on the computer while the nodes attached to their heads record the activity of their brains.  This provides information about which parts of their brains need training.

Unregulated brains function sub-optimally; they have trouble taking advice, dealing with stress, or even going to sleep.  Brains of people with PTSD, for example, buzz with emergency beta waves.  In a healthy brain, slow theta waves should flood the brain once the emergency has past, and calm it down; but in a PTSD brain, the beta waves continue blaring and the brain begins shutting down.  Frequency training has been shown to teach the brain to function optimally, reducing symptoms of PTSD, ADD, panic attacks, and more.  The medical community addresses the vast majority of mental health issues using pharmaceutical medications, which address only the chemicals emitted by the brain.  On the other hand, train training—or neuro-feedback—focuses on the electrical signals, whose patterns can be permanently changed through intervention.

During a student’s first session with the Madcity Brain Masters, the team asks him or her “what symptoms or behaviors are detracting from the quality of their life the most.  We track those, and then their progress is evaluated by asking what is going on in your life right now, each time they visit, to find out of those symptoms have improved.”  Information about past or present trauma, anger management problems, or other personal obstacles is extremely valuable, “because it helps track any of those symptoms or reactions that are impeding their actions right now”.   This allows the Madcity Brain Masters to determine exactly what is improving and what needs tuning.

During subsequent sessions—twenty is the recommended number—advanced computer programs read the student’s brain waves and translate it into pictures and sounds on the computer screen.  This acts as a sort of “mirror” to the brain that shows it exactly what it is doing.  For example, anxiety may be reflected as a high-pitched, annoying noise.  If the images and sounds are pleasant to the student’s brain, they continue as is.  However, if the images and sounds are unpleasant, the brain will alter its patterns to produce more pleasant output.  Over time, these changes become permanent.

Part of the training involves encouraging the brain either to speed up or slow down, depending on the needs of the particular student.  If the student’s brain function is impeded by a surplus of fast waves, it needs to be trained to slow down.  In order to inhibit the fast waves, the computer program plays slower images and sounds along with pleasant ones that act as a reward to the brain for slowing down.

The mind “requires a lot of training and reinforcement to change its thought patterns,” and frequency training plays a supporting role in this.  For example, someone who has undergone years of therapy might try to change their behavior through the steps that they have learned in the therapy, but not succeed.   That same person might then try brain training, and then find it easier to change their behavior using those same therapy skills that were previously unsuccessful.  Cathy and the Madcity Brain Trainers believe in the power of the students to describe their own challenges and report their progress; and use these self-descriptions as a means of change.

As Cathy talks, a student enters the classroom, sits down, and stares around her at the baking racks, mixing bowls, flour barrels, and other equipment that have been temporarily rolled into the classroom while the kitchen is being painted.  The student’s breathing speeds up, and a cloud of claustrophobia begins suffocating her.  Stress emanates from her body in waves.  Seeing the student’s distress, Cathy hands her the laser that she has been using on her own arm.  “Here, try this on your neck.”  The student presses the laser to the base of her collarbone, where it beeps and flashes steadily.  Slowly, her breathing slows, and her face calms.  After less than five minutes, she feels normal again.  The equipment crowding the classroom no longer bothers her.  She is ready to concentrate and learn.

…by Diana G…

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