Technology Serving Consciousness

Elderly Acuity

Increasingly we hear that the brain is as a muscle in that it grows and maintains tissue according to how much use it receives. This stands to reason because the body’s circulatory system hierarchically sends life-giving blood to the systems that are using it most. The whole metabolic process requires that the blood be steadily supplied with glucose and oxygen. Areas receiving less blood will continue operating at the status quo while what receives more blood will rebuild and grow.

A person is born with (most) all the brain cells he or she will ever have. Almost immediately, the living process begins to take its toll by dying and by adapting. As we grow, our brain cells drop in number but grow in complexity and in ability. So that by the age of twenty there are almost half as many as at birth, but these are potentially capable of traveling the whole speed range of the brain electrical spectrum. This plateau of efficient brain processing is where we spend our adult lives. Furthermore, the brain cells which remain grow more and more new connectors to join into communication with the other cells in the brain. They link together in complex chains that defy reason in their complexity and adaptability. Slowly though, the process of living does continue taking its toll. We age. We notice the slowness of our reactions and our responses. The predominant pulse rates of the brain decrease and we experience the onset of our memories.

All this can be pleasant while disturbing to view or to experience. The aging process can engender resignation or inspiration. Now, in a world where not one of us is free of environmental toxins the decline of the brain takes on more terrifying connotations. For often what is not being used does not simply atrophy, but can fall prey to a variety of aggressive proteins or viruses that entirely debilitate ones remaining life. It is a case of "use it or lose it" . . . to the attacker.

Many researchers are making claims that the best defense against diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is the exercise and the maintenance of the vitality of our brains. In the general practitioner’s offices across America, suggestions such as taking courses, doing brain teasers, problem solving, and practicing meditation to maintain activity in the whole brain can be heard. A very effective method of working the brain across its whole range of abilities is Neurofeedback.

To get one's body into shape, a person will join a club that has machines designed to exercise specific muscle groups efficiently. Often for whole body health we do rigorous exercises which push the heart rate into desired speed range and then keep that heart rate up for an imprinting time; usually twenty minutes at least. To find if training is efficient, athletes will use a pulse meter, thus making the performance obvious and easily comparative ("I did better today than last time"). This is what Neurofeedback provides for the brain states: a pulse meter. And an amplifier and also the workout machine itself. It is a very powerful facilitator to entering any given state of consciousness (from "focused attention" to "sleep"), and for maintaining that state.

A very interesting use of Neurofeedback is to help a person who is at risk for a degenerative nervous disease build up his or her defense against the disease. This, along with a nutritional review can be an important part of the long-term quality of life that we all deserve from our efforts. Some Neurofeedback providers have begun offering this service in personal care facilities.

Some of the side effects of this prevention effort are a general increase in concentration, often an increase in motivation and a "brighter" mood. Also a sense of personal power, because when a person is active and bright because of his or her own efforts, there will surely be an increased sense of ability within that person.