Ep. 029 – Brain Training Tools: Neurofeedback

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Good morning and welcome to Episode 029 of the Train Your Brain Podcast with Dr. Michael Trayford. It’s Monday again, so this is our weekly, 30-minute episode. (Tuesday through Sunday we produce five-minute episodes with daily tips.) Every episode of the Train Your Brain Podcast provides advice for helping you to improve the function of your brain.

In Episode 029, Dr. Trayford talks about Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback and Biofeedback are very effective in measuring brain activity and conditioning for the purpose of improving performance. The International Society for Neurofeedback and Research is a great resource for anyone who’s interested in learning more. Click here to learn more.

Dr. Trayford shares a Neurofeedback-related brain training tip that our listeners can try at home to regulate their own stress: It’s called hand-warming biofeedback. Try it and let us know how it works!

Hand warming biofeedback is one of the simplest biofeedback exercises you can do yourself. The exercise requires a small thermometer. Sometimes you can find them on a retail level at gardening or hardware stores. Otherwise you can search online using terms like hand thermometer, air temperature thermometer or stress thermometer. The digital thermometer usually comes in a plastic case with a little wire that serves as a temperature probe. Before buying a particular unit, make sure it is capable of taking measurements in tenths of a degree.

When people are stressed their hands start to get cold as part of the sympathetic fight or flight response. When this happens your body pools the blood in your core. This causes you to lose peripheral circulation, which makes your hands, toes and even parts of your face feel cold.

When you’re ready to start the exercise, you tape the wire probe to your hand or finger. You might need to give it a couple of moments to warm up and register the temperature of your hand. Then start to do a simple deep breathing exercise where you breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, while keeping your lips tight. Make sure to breathe out for twice as long as you were breathing in.

You should start seeing a change in the temperature of your hands. Sometimes it can happen quite quickly. Continue breathing and watching the temperature of your hands as it continues to elevate. You continue with the breathing exercise until the temperature increase in your hand stops. From there you can end the exercise and go about your business. Then you do this several times throughout the course of a day.

Chances are you will see very quickly that you have the ability to regulate your stress responses fairly effectively. As you continue practicing this biofeedback exercise you’ll actually feel the fingers getting warmer. This is an indication that you’re increasing the circulation and that your brain knows, through that types of operant conditioning, that it made a big change in your own physiology.

It gives a person with anxiety, phobia or other problems the power to control their systems. Which is really what brain training is all about. We’ve seen people use this exercise to get past phobias and anxiety disorders because it has them in control. It’s not the pill that’s in control, or the doctor, it’s them being personally in control of their own issues, which is empowering.

If you have any concerns regarding the information and applications discussed in this podcast, please consult your physician and a doctor who is experienced in functional neurology. Michael Trayford DC, DACNB is available for consultation by calling (828) 708-5274. Thanks for listening.

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