Are You an Introvert?

woman happily reading aloneThere’s been some recent buzz on the Internet about introverts. According to self-reporting, introverts seem to cope with quarantine conditions better than their more extroverted friends. If you’ve shared in similar discussions, you might wonder if you tend toward introversion or extroversion. Because, well — is anyone exclusively just one type of personality?

Leanne O’Neil, owner of INDY Neurofeedback, weighs in. “Being 100% extroverted or introverted is pretty rare. Most people are a combination of both personality types. The labels “introvert” and “extrovert” have become a short-hand way to express how people react to the world around them. Scientifically, though, being more one way or the other has more to do with how your brain processes information, which shows up in your behavior.”

Famous psychologist Carl Jung began using the terms introvert and extrovert in the 1920s. Jung categorized individuals into these two basic personality types by noting energy expenditure. Introverts, Jung said, turned inward to recharge, while extroverts sought out other people for their energy needs. Those that fell right in the middle of the scale were referred to as ambiverts.

You might be an introvert if…

According to Psychology Today, approximately one-third to one-half of all people in the U.S. tend toward introversion. Of course, having the qualities of an introvert looks different depending on your gender, age, and cultural upbringing. That said, introverts in general share many of the same patterns of behavior, such as:

  • Feeling comfortable being alone
  • Needing quiet to concentrate
  • Being more reflective
  • Taking more time to make decisions
  • Disliking group work
  • Feeling stressed or uncomfortable in a crowd
  • Retreating into their own minds to rejuvenate or rest.

One way to determine where you fall on the introvert scale is to take a test, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the SAPA project

Are we born an introvert or extrovert?

Behavioral psychologists aren’t sure about this yet. What they do know is the brains of the two personality types work very differently. Researchers know that introverts tend to have a higher blood flow to their frontal lobes than extroverts do. The frontal lobe of your brain is responsible for remembering things, solving problems, and planning ahead, among other things.

Introvert brains also react differently to dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that turns on the reward and pleasure-seeking part of your brain. Introverts and extroverts have the same amount of the chemical, but extrovert brains get an excited buzz from their reward center. Introverts tend to feel overwhelmed by it.

What type of introvert are you?

Behavioral psychologists group introverts into four subtypes:

  • Social introverts – “Classic,” preferring small groups and quiet settings over crowds.
  • Thinking introverts – “Daydreamers,” spending a lot of time in thought and creative imaginations.
  • Anxious introverts – “Loners,” seeking out privacy, because they prefer it or feel awkward or shy.
  • Restrained/inhibited introverts –“Indecisives,” taking longer before committing and making decisions.

Interestingly, your introverted or extroverted ways will very likely change over time, and in different settings.

You’re not likely to swing from introvert to extrovert, but you may become more or less introverted, depending on what’s going on in your life.

At INDY Neurofeedback, we are fascinated with anything having to do with brains, thinking, challenges, changes, and behavior.

We welcome your questions…

Breathing, Your Brain, and the Coronavirus

Over the past 20 years, we’ve begun to understand how intensely breathing patters affect brain health and contribute to illness. Researchers working together with biofeedback techniques have

developed coaching strategies to optimize breathing patterns, improve health and wellbeing, and mental performance.

A prime example of how learning to self-optimize breathing patterns to help control health has to do with asthma. In a 2003 study, people with asthma were taught to reduce their reactivity to cigarette smoke and other airborne irritants.

  • Participants were first taught how to slow diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Next, they were taught to hold their breath but relax their bodies the moment they became aware of an airborne irritant such as cigarette smoke.
  • They then moved away from the polluted air while exhaling very slowly through their nose, waiting until the air was clearer to inhale and continue diaphragmatic breathing.

Using this research, people may well be able to reduce their exposure to the coronavirus by changing their breathing patterns.

Naturally, the first step to preventing catching the illness is by prevention by following the recommended public health guidelines, including social distancing, frequent thorough hand washing, surface disinfecting, and keeping hands away from one’s face. Recently, wearing a mask to protect one’s face has been added to this list.

So, how can one reduce their exposure to the virus when near other people by changing their breathing pattern? 

Normally when startled or surprised, we tend to gasp and inhale air rapidly. We also do this when someone sneezes, coughs or exhales near you – which causes a potential intake of germs from the contaminated person. Instead, change your breathing pattern.

Here’s how:

When a person is getting too close

  • Hold your breath with your mouth closed and relax your shoulders (just pause your breathing) as you move away.
  • Gently exhale through your nose (without inhaling), no matter how little air you have in your lungs.
  • When far enough away, gently inhale through your nose.
  • Remember to relax and feel your shoulders drop when holding your breath – which should last for only a few seconds as you move away from the person.
  • Exhale before inhaling through your nose.

When a person coughs or sneezes

  • Hold your breath and rotate you head away from the person while moving away from them and exhaling though your nose.
  • If you think the droplets of the sneeze or cough have landed on you or your clothing, go home, disrobe outside your house, and put your clothing into the washing machine. Take a shower and wash yourself with soap.

When passing a person who is approaching you

  • Inhale before they are six feet from you, and exhale through your nose as you pass them.
  • When you are more than six feet away, gently inhale through your nose.

When talking to people outside

  • Stand so that the breeze or wind hits both people from the same side. This way, any exhaled droplets are blown down wind from both of you.

“Although these breathing skills are simple,” suggests Leanne O’Neil of INDY Neurofeedback, “they will take practice and mindfulness to before they become habitual – and genuinely helpful – especially if you or someone in your family has asthma. Remember, this breathing pattern should not be forced. In fact with practice, it will occur effortlessly.”

There are so many, many interesting ways INDY Neurofeedback can help you and your family members use techniques to retrain your brain. If you have a physical, emotional or health issue holding you back, we welcome your call. Your first consultation is always free.

Migraines Explored

Contrary to popular belief, migraines are more complicated that just a bad headache.

Not only are they exceedingly common, affecting nearly 40 million people in the United States, they can last up to 72 hours. Migraines are likely caused by a combination of environmental factors and genetic vulnerability, since two thirds of those suffering from migraines have family members who also have them.

Headaches are just one symptom of migraines, which are complex and include a wide spectrum of symptoms – some of which can be very debilitating — including:

  • Sensitivity to light and/or sound
  • Nausea
  • Seeing spots or flashing lights
  • Pain in the temple or behind ears
  • Temporary vision loss.

According to neurologists, brain imaging performed during an active migraine attack shows:

  • Physical changes to the brain’s surface
  • Brain inflammation
  • Dilated blood vessels
  • Dramatic alterations in blood flow.

Since migraine episodes can differ widely, getting an accurate diagnosis is very important for your brain health as well as your overall wellbeing. After diagnosis, finding treatments that work for individuals – all with varying symptoms and severity — can be very difficult. Common medical migraine treatments include prescription drugs, keeping personal routines as regular as possible, reducing sugar intake, reducing alcohol consumption, and smoking cessation.

“Considering the wide variety in symptoms and severity,” says Leanne O’Neil, owner of INDY Neurofeedback, “it is not surprising that traditional western medicine often includes prescription medicines and doesn’t always work well for those of us experiencing migraines. Clients often come see us to find drug-free solutions for migraines.”

“Neurofeedback and biofeedback are effective ways to gain awareness and control over some of your body’s reactions to stress. These modalities can measure a client’s changes in muscle and brain activity, temperature, heart rate, and even sweat gland activity. It shows the client each of these physical changes in real time,” explains O’Neil. “Hundreds of studies have shown that  — with proper training — you can learn to regulate brain and body processes on your own while you are receiving immediate neurofeedback information.”

Not only are these non-medical techniques fascinating, but they also work. “I have had many clients from both The Cleveland Clinic and Michigan Head and Neck Institutes, who were resigned to life-long headaches and medication, but after intensive neurofeedback work, are now free from prescribed medications and migraines,“ says O’Neill.

If you suffer from migraines, talk to us about setting up an exploratory appointment to find out more about how INDY Neurofeedback may help.

How Typical U.S. Diets Affect Brain Function and Appetite

American diets have been connected to a number of health issues from obesity to cardiovascular disease. But new joint research between the U.K., Australia and the U.S. has finally identified why our diets are so bad for us and why we’re putting on weight.

Researchers found that when otherwise healthy young adults followed a typical western (U.S.) diet for seven days, they tended to perform worse on memory tests and craved more junk food. That may be because the food we typically eat actually disrupts proper function of the hippocampus, a region in the brain important for memory retention and food regulation.

After a week on an American-style diet, snacks and chocolate become more desirable even when subjects were full,” according to a Macquarie University study director in Sydney, Australia. “Our diets make junk food harder to resist, leading us to eat more, which in turn generates more damage to the hippocampus and a vicious cycle of overeating.”

For the study, researchers split 110 lean and healthy students between the ages of 20-23 into two groups: one group ate their normal diet for a week, while the others were given a diet including processed snacks and sugary foods. After eating each meal, participants indicated how much they liked the food and whether they wished to eat more of it.

Interestingly, desiring more food and liking a particular type of food dramatically changed in participants following the western-style diet. Researchers found that the more appealing food samples were to test subjects, the worse subjects did on brain tests such as memory retention. These new study findings strongly resemble previous studies, which exposed a link between hippocampal function and junk food.

Leanne O’Neil, owner of INDY Neurofeedback, finds these connections troubling. “Some of the food we are regularly putting into our bodies is actually disrupting brain function and encouraging over-eating. No wonder Americans have such a hard time fighting weight gain and obesity.”

Through the direct training of brain function, neurofeedback therapy is a powerful tool for combating eating disorders. If you struggle with an eating disorder, neurofeedback can help by addressing the root causes of the brain dysregulation.  We are seeing good client results with self-governed non-medical neurofeedback techniques for our clients wishing to lose weight and keep it off, as well as those battling eating disorders.

At INDY Neurofeedback, we are happy to help you restore healthy cognition and eating habits.