Is there a way to train the brain to perform optimally under pressure?

Can the human brain be trained to overcome intellectual challenges? Can it be trained to perform at its peak, even under pressure?

Consider Jagjit and Navjot, 35-year-old autistic twins from Jabalpur, who were in Chennai for ‘brain function training’ at Medha Mind Enhancement. After their EEGs were studied and the problem areas identified, they underwent FDA (The Food and Drug Administration authority in the U.S.) approved EEG procedures such as the ‘19-lead z-score neuro-feedback’ and gut protocol procedures. “Now, both sleep better and have calmed down; the constant self-talk Jagjit used to indulge in has subsided, while Navjot’s obsessive compulsory behaviour (OCD) that made him prone to ritual cleaning (vigorously cleaning the wash basin 25 times before brushing his teeth every morning) has drastically come down,” says their mother Sadhana.

Chennai-based Dr. A. Banumathi, a paediatrician, whose six-year-old son Nimalan is being given brain function training (BFT) says, “The sensory problems and the self-talk tendency my son had have almost disappeared, though hyperactivity remains. We expect that in three months, this too will reduce.”

Answer to several problems

Though largely unknown in India, brain function training/neurofeedback is a standard feature of intervention programmes for conditions such as ADHD, ADD, epilepsy, seizures and brain injury in the West. In fact, not just to deal with intellectual challenges, brain function could hold an answer to sleep problems, anxiety and irritability, migraines, panic attacks, irritable bowel, allergies and asthma, social and behavioural issues, learning disorders, and realising unfulfilled potential. Neurofeedback is also used to enhance peak performance of sportsmen and corporate leaders. Apparently, the U.S. military, navy and air force used brain function training to improve cognitive function among its personnel. Closer home in India, Abhinav Bindra reportedly used brain function training before the Beijing Olympics to gear up to perform under pressure.

Train the brain

“BFT effects are better in younger people, as the brain would not yet have fallen into rigid patterns, But, it can improve the brain at any age,” says N. S. Srinivasan, founder and chief mentor of Medha Mind Enhancement Company. Author of the book Brain Re-engineering, he is the only invited Asian member of SABA (Society for Advancement in Brain Analysis). N.S. Srinivasan learnt BFT from its discoverer Dr. Barry Sterman, Prof. Emeritus of Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Srinivasan boasts an interesting confluence of educational styles, having three masters degrees, two post-graduate diplomas, besides indigenous education on ‘enhancing mental states’ acquired over 15 years of learning at ashrams in the Himalayas. He has been recently made a resource person by BFE (Biofeedback Foundation of Europe) and was nominated for the “2009 Man of Year in Medicine & Health Care” award by the American Biographical Institute, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.

“BFT is certainly the most advanced and expensive of treatments, but it is also the most effective,” says Srinivasan. “It works by changing the mental state of a person, making him self-aware. It works on phase lock (time taken by neurons to gather resources for brain activity) and phase shift (problem solving activity of the brain). This directs the person’s brain from dis-regulated patterns to self-sustaining, healthy and productive patterns of brainwave activity. Stress-related performance inhibition is reduced and the person’s brain gradually moves towards optimal performance. The learning capacity and adaptive ability is internalised in the brain”.

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A much misunderstood problemMarch 3, 2013