Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Brain Renewal (Guest Column)

Brain Renewal: A NewApproach
David Dubin, MD
Is it possible to renew the brain? We used to believe that the adult brain’s ability to change was very limited; that we were born with a set amount of neurons and once we reached adulthood that number did not change. Over the last ten years, however, this view has changed dramatically.
We now know that there is no time in our lives when substantial renewal cannot occur. Not only can we increase the connections among the existing brain cells and form new pathways, but we are able to actually grow new neurons.
This changing of neurons, the organization of their networks and function via new experiences is called neuroplasticity. However, most efforts demonstrating neuroplasticity have required a great deal of time and effort: extensive rehabilitation after a stroke, acquiring a new language or learning a musical instrument.
But there is an exciting new way the brain can renew itself without prolonged exertion, called LENS (Low Energy Neurofeedback System). In fact, with LENS you hardly have to do anything at all. LENS is a passive system, where the participant does not try to change any brain wave and does not feel or know when the incredibly short neurofeedback session is even being given. Other than closing her eyes, the patient does not do anything at all.
Over the last ten years, this new system has been helping with all types of difficult health problems. With a few sensors, we feed back to the brain the very same brain waves that various areas of the brain are emitting and adding the slightest amount of change, called an offset. Then, over a number sessions (averaging between 10 and 20, with a typical session lasting half hour or less), the brain self-regulates and minimizes its dysfunction.
It is as if someone pushed the brain’s restart button, getting it out of stuck patterns and allowing the brain to begin anew. That translates to thinking better, feeling better, and sleeping better. Anxiety, panic attacks and post traumatic stress decrease or disappear entirely; depressive thoughts lighten up; foggy, cloudy thinking gets clearer; headaches are reduced or eliminated. Even emotional issues may be brought to the surface and released, freeing the person in that dimension. Neurofeedback is as effective as Ritalin for ADD and currently the single most effective treatment for traumatic brain injury.
So, to answer the question asked in the first sentence of this article, the brain is able to renew itself, and in truly profound ways.
*Dr. Dubin is one of only a few hundred LENS practitioners worldwide.
THE BRAIN is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.
The brain is deeper than the sea,
For, hold them, blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb,
As sponges, buckets do.
The brain is just the weight of God,
For, lift them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,
As syllable from sound.
Emily Dickinson (1830–86)


docmay said...

i had the great opportunity to speak with several of dr dubin's LENS patients and with 2 psychotherapists who are co-treating patients with him.

i must say the results that i heard from all parties was remarkable: long-term anxiety problems, sleep and motivational issues, PTSD and more significantly responding in relatively short time frames of treatment.

this looks like a promising new treatment. i am interested in learning more and bringing LENS to Northampton!

gramma said...

fascinating - and non-medicated

SorayaDulaney said...