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Cognitive Performance

Applying the mind to any task can be challenging, especially with the sheer number of demands that our modern life can present. It is a known fact that the mind is always being shaped and reshaped by our life experience. Every new and unique demand in life, catalyzes structural change in the brain. The ability to learn something new, or form a new memory implies that the connections and function of the brain is always adjusting to meet our demands with more efficiency. Concentration, mental clarity, memory retrieval, and even creativity, are some of the common features that are associated with cognitive performance. Either through the ageing process, or from environmental or emotional stress, we can gradually lose the ability to apply the mind in a focused manner, and this loss can have major implications on home life, academic endeavors, professions, and overall life quality ratings.

The most common feature of cognitive impairment is a mixture of symptoms collectively referred to as “brain fog”. Brain fog is a cluster of symptoms that include such complaints as slow thinking, difficulty focusing, confusion, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, and/or haziness in thought processes. The prevalence of brain fog complaints in the post-Covid world has become especially pronounced, due to the neuroinflammatory response that the virus is known to provoke.

The brain’s inability to perform well on cognitive tasks and demands, is frequently the outcome of specific dysregulations within, and between specific networks. These dysregulations are patterns of activity that the brain acquires over time, due to exposure to external or internal stresses. This brain activity can be measured by the unique electrical signals it emits. There are clinically valid brainwave patterns that are associated with the entire spectrum of cognitive performance features. Everything from ADHD, to migraines and seizures, have unique brain wave signatures that are measured by electrodes on the surface of the scalp.

In cases of trauma, whether physical or emotional, the activity of the brain is often shaped in a way that hinders its ability to perform. This shows the brain to indeed be the most malleable structure in the entire body. It has evolved by responding to environmental demands throughout not only a single lifetime, but the entire span of human history. As anyone has noticed throughout their life, circumstances change. As circumstances change, so do the demands on the individual, and of course their brain. Because of the constant flux of the environment, the brain has had to evolve to keep up. Sometimes the environment can be so extreme that it can condition the brain to perform in a way that only fits that environment, and does not translate to another. This can be seen in the high-stakes environment of combat, where behaviors that are suitable in a combat zone, become maladaptive in a civilian context. The important thing to remember is that if the brain learned it, it can unlearn it. If a certain experience can shape the brain to have less focus, or more anxiety, then a different experience can shape it in the opposite direction. All learning essentially comes from what our sensory system experiences. What we see and what we hear, makes up a big majority of how the brain learns to organize itself. We are naturally attracted to things that are more pleasing to the senses, and are repelled by those things that are less so. Neurofeedback leverages this by rewarding the brain with pleasant experiences when the brain is in certain performance zones. Over time, the brain responds by reproducing the same functions that gained rewards in the past. This is no different than what happens anytime that something is learned. The technology of neurofeedfback simply allows this learning to be directed to specific sites of the brain, which correlate to specific facilities and functions.

This is one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the modern era. This science shows that a person does not have to be confined to live out the fate of their experience indefinitely. There is now a way to shift the momentum of our past experience and create a better brain and a better mind.

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