Ep. 100 – Visualization: The Brain Training Secret Weapon

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What an extraordinary Tuesday morning this is! Good morning and welcome to Episode 100 of the Train Your Brain Podcast with Dr. Michael Trayford. Every Monday we produce a 30-minute episode. Tuesday through Sunday we produce episodes with five-minute tips. Every episode of the Train Your Brain Podcast features a tip, so you can receive pointers 365 days a year that will help enhance the performance of your brain!

Your host Dr. Trayford shares his secret weapon brain training tip today. The tip is visualization. In the most literal sense you will be training your brain to perform and succeed as you visualize your movements and your surroundings. This can apply to anything from pole vaulting to singing in front of an audience to social skills. Make sure your brain knows exactly what to do when the important moments come! Thanks for listening!

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.

Jason: I’m excited to be here. Statistically most podcasts don’t make it past episode 8. So to get to 100 is a very big accomplishment.

I undertook this without a doubt that I was going to take it on. It’s an exercise in thought and creativity. The more I get into it the more ideas I find myself coming up with. It’s been a serious process and I thank you for helping me.

This tip is very simply about visualization. Even though simply probably isn’t the right word when you consider how visualization impacts the brain. This is a brain training secret weapon that is often underutilized in the brain training arena.

There are things like neuro-linguistic programming and other psychological techniques that use visualization in the mental health arena, but in terms of the physical training arena, beyond sports, visualization isn’t used that much.

To understand the fact that your brain changes simply by thinking about something. I talk about athletes. Now there’s not a high level athlete out there, especially at the professional or Olympic levels, where the athlete hasn’t run that race or won that event, where they didn’t first play it out in their mind.

When you talk about the Super Bowl, Tom Brady for example. I’m not a Patriots fan, but Tom Brady has been to the Super Bowl a couple of times. You know full well, when he’s going into that big game, or any game in the season, that he’s done his homework, he’s studied the opposing team and he’s played that game in his head over and over again a thousand times.

Often times it’s the ones that think it out and all the potential options that get it and go on to victory.

Visualization carries over into other things like music and academics. People will often visualize playing a piece before they perform.

Jennifer Hudson, who was let go from American Idol, went on to great success. She talked about singing in front of the Pope on his recent visit. She came from a religious background, so it was a full circle opportunity for her to use her gift.

Jason: as a Musician myself, she probably practiced many times before the event.

She very likely did this more mentally than she did physically.

This applies to a person trying to get through their day, peak performers and people that are working to recover from a brain injury. Visualization has been an important tool for many years in rehabilitation from stroke arena.

Someone who can’t move a limb, can visualize moving a limb and in time the limb starts to move a little. So it can be powerful in some cases for physical exercises and stretching. When someone has a stroke we go in through the brain to mentally create power inside a limb that has been altered.

If someone is lifting weight and they reach their maximum physically. If they stop and visualize it for a while, they can go back and actually lift more weight. So thinking strengthens muscles, nerve connections and the more detailed we are with the visualizations the more effective they will be.

This was talked about in the Norman Doidge who wrote the book The Brain that Changes Itself. Well he recently published a book titled The Brain’s Way of Healing. It looks at visualization of repetitive movements, particularly in Parkinson’s patients. People who regained functions and eliminated tremors thanks to visualization.

So visualization is the absolute brain training secret weapon that can be used in brain training and so many other arenas in life.

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