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plugged in brain

Our brains are nothing short of amazing. We know! We get to work with them every day here at INDY Neurofeedback. From our work with the youngest of preschoolers to the most senior of seniors, we marvel at the brain’s ability to collect, associate, connect, learn, infer, and create memories with seconds-long impressions happening every moment of every day.
With that in mind, it’s worth remembering that our brains are more than processing machines. Brains are constantly forming the basis of what makes each of us unique every minute of every day. In fact, our brains actually physically change with every new thought and piece of information.

Every sensory experience each of us has initiates changes in the molecules of the brain’s neurons, reshaping the way they connect to one another. So, quite literally your brain is made of information, which in turn, constantly re-shapes your brain. Everything stored in your memory exists because your brain’s molecules, cells, and synapses calculate time and set information in place within these brain spaces.

So what exactly is stored learning or memory? “Memories are really just a reactivation of connections between different parts of your brain that were active at some previous time,” according to neuroscientist Nikolay Kukushkin.
So how does retrieving a memory from your brain work?
“What is unique about neurons is they can connect to thousands of other neurons, each very specifically,” says Kukushkin. “And what makes those connections a network is the fact that those specific connections, those synapses, can be adjusted with stronger or weaker signals. So every experience has the potential to reroute the relative strengths of all those neuronal connections.”

In essence, there is no singular place in the brain where information and memories are stored. Because our brains have an amazing property called plasticity — a feature of neurons that memorize — our memory is simply the brain system itself.
Obviously, no recalled information (memories) exists in a vacuum. Our brains break down experiences into multiple timescales, with individual memories existing within multiple time windows of different lengths. This recalling requires exchanges of information in the brain on the molecular scale – which of course, is beyond the perception of event you are remembering. This process is pretty difficult for even neuroscientists to completely comprehend. But we do know quite a lot more about the mechanics of brain function and interbrain communication, thanks to fascinating processes like neurofeedback.
If you have questions about memory, learning, and your brain health, we invite you to talk to us about neurofeedback. The techniques INDY Neurofeedback utilizes can help you — and your brain — function in the best ways possible.

Is Music Good for Brain Health?

Happy senior woman with closed eyes wearing headphones and singing

In a word, yes. Listening to music, playing music, dancing to music… all turn the brain on, providing a full brain workout.
According to a new report from the AARP-founded Global Council on Brain Health, music stimulates multiple areas of the brain including those responsible for memory, movement and mood.

“Nothing activates the brain like music,” says Jonathan Burdette, a contributor to the AARP report and professor of neuroradiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Music has the capacity to get multiple parts of the brain working together. “All that brain synchronicity provides some serious health benefits.”
Researchers have found that music can:

Improve sleep
Sharpen memory
Reduce stress, and
Stimulate thinking skills

That’s because when we hear music, the sound waves are translated into nerve impulses that travel to several areas of the brain. These areas include those that release dopamine, which plays a role in pleasure. That’s why, when you hear music, — no matter what type — it makes you feel better.

A 2020 AARP survey of more than 3,100 adults found that a higher percentage of people who engage in music self-rate aspects of their quality of life and happiness as excellent or very good. They also report lower average levels of anxiety and depression.

Even better, “music facilitates social interactions — another advantage for the brain. So when adults sing and dance, or perform together, they experience a pronounced feeling of less loneliness and a better quality of life, compared with adults who don’t,” says Julene Johnson, a professor at the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Along with improving mood, music encourages movement — another key component to brain health. Listening to music during a workout can be an enjoyable way to make exercise seem easier and enjoy the workout more. We are learning that music has brain healing powers music is now being used to help adults who suffer a stroke and lose their ability to speak. Even when they can’t speak, they can often still sing. Adults with Parkinson’s disease may struggle to walk, but music and dance can strengthen their muscle movement and help improve gait.

How can you use music to improve every day brain health? INDY Neurofeedback owner Ruth Just weighs in. “At our clinic, we play music at specific frequencies at our clinic that correlate with clients’ neurofeedback to enhance the benefit of their sessions.”

Here are 5 Ways to use music to sharpen your brain from AARP’s Global council on Brain Health:
Listen to music that comforts you or evokes positive memories
Try listening to unfamiliar songs and new types of music to stimulate your brain
Use relaxing background music to help you relax at the end of a hectic day
Try turning on upbeat background music when you need an energy or creativity boost
Be sure to have your hearing checked. Maintaining clear hearing is essential for maintaining cognitive function – and making listening to music more enjoyable.

At INDY Neurofeedback, we can help you maximize your brain function and improve the quality of your day-to-day life. How can we help you? Let’s talk.