We May Be Able To Rewire Our Brain, According To New Research
We know that lifestyle factors like sleep, diet, and exercise impact our brain health, and with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease on the rise we’re all about finding ways to promote the longevity of our brain’s healthy functioning. As part of our mbg wellness trends of 2019, we predicted that brain health would be a big topic of conversation—and it looks like just that.
A new study from the D’Or Institute for Research and Education1 and published in NeuroImage found that less than one hour of neurofeedback, a form of brain training, led to stronger connections between neural pathways and better communication in the brain.
What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback2 is a type of biofeedback that monitors and records brain activity and helps train the brain to fire at optimal times. Some research suggests it can help alleviate symptoms associated with chronic pain3.
How was it used in this study?
In this study, the goal was to increase activity in the parts of the brain involved with hand movement. The participants were asked to think about moving their hands but not actually do so. About half of the participants were given neurofeedback, and the other half was not.
After the thirty-minute session, they looked at the participant's neural pathways and saw that those who had the neurofeedback had strengthened the corpus callosum, the connector between the right and left side of the brain, and the neural pathways responsible for moving the body.
They also saw that the neurofeedback positively affected the default mode network, a circuit in the brain that can be damaged after a stroke or Parkinson’s.
"We showed that the neurofeedback can be considered a powerful tool to induce brain changes at record speed. Now, our goal is to develop new studies to test whether patients with neurological disorders can also benefit from it,", said Fernanda Tovar Moll, president of IDOR and leader of the study, in a statement.
While further research is needed to determine how these findings could impact treatments for neurological disorders like Alzheimer's, it is exciting to hear that there may be a way to alter the brain's neural connections and rewire the brain in a short period of time.
We can't be sure what the future holds for our brain health, but this news instills hope that there may be a way to protect against or treat neurological disorders down the line.
Caroline Muggia has a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College. She received her E-RYT with Yoga Works and is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. A writer and environmental advocate, she is passionate about helping people live healthier and more sustainable lives. You can usually find her drinking matcha or spending time by the ocean.