You may have noticed yourself that your ability to concentrate has diminished. Baby brain? Possibly some of it. But there are other factors that are impacting our ability to concentrate for long periods of a time. The constant interruption of phones, multi-tasking across multiple screens at one time (such as when using the phone while watching TV).
For children growing up in this environment, they are not having the opportunity we had as children to build that ability to focus – a missing piece of brain development, which experts say could cause them issues in later life.
Dr Upsana Gala, founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, a neurofeedback centre in Dubai, is something of an expert on brain training. At Evolve, Dr Gala and her team help people to maximise the true potential of their brains using brain-training techniques.
At a glance, it’s easy to see just how many people struggle to focus today. Children and adults alike struggle to pay attention – especially in a world brimming full of visual stimuli
She says, “At a glance, it’s easy to see just how many people struggle to focus today. Children and adults alike struggle to pay attention – especially in a world brimming full of visual stimuli. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a more laid back approach to concentration.”
As Dr Gala acknowledges that this can lead to children feeling over-whelmed, out of their depth and tired. She says, “Struggling to pay attention at class and at home can often result in unwarranted peer judgment, anxiety, low self-confidence and, subsequently, a lack of motivation. Concerned parents often feel helpless when this happens. However, through neurofeedback therapy, children can improve their focus and, as a result, regain their confidence.”
Through brain training, anyone can experience improvement not just in attention, but also in reducing hyperactivity, improving organisation skills, better sleep and less anxiety.
Struggling to pay attention at class and at home can often result in unwarranted peer judgment, anxiety, low self-confidence and, subsequently, a lack of motivation.
If you think your child’s focus could be better, have a look at Dr Gala’s three top causes of this and how to use neurofeedback to make it better.
“Children who spend large amounts of time with their electronics have trained their brains to receive heightened stimulation and the accompanying boosts of dopamine. This ultimately affects their ability to focus in less stimulating environments like a boring class.”
Children who spend large amounts of time with their electronics have trained their brains to receive heightened stimulation and the accompanying boosts of dopamine
“Sleep also plays a huge role in maintaining focus and attention," says Dr Gala.
"Without enough sleep, simple reaction time is slowed down and attentional lapses become longer and more frequent.”
“Another factor that can affect attention is stress and anxiety. Psychosocial stress is associated with physiological and cognitive changes. In particular, stress affects working memory, memory retrieval and selective attention. Prolonged stress and anxiety also can result in structural deterioration of brain area,s such as the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which affects memory, focus and other executive functions.”
What can be done about it?
As well as looking at the three factors above, neurofeedback can help train the brain to be more focused through the principle of neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to change and adapt in response to environment. Neurofeedback sessions involve sensors being placed on a child’s scalp which read brain activity and relay the information back to the brain through visuals and audios.
Dr Gala says, “To improve focus and attention, every time the brain focuses better, it receives a positive reward in the form of better visual and auditory cues. As a result, the brain gets better and better at focusing. Over time, with repeated training in this manner, this new way of being more focused becomes the brain’s new natural habit. By the end of the programme, the brain remembers these tools and techniques to focus better in everyday life resulting in long term changes.”
“This training is targeted on the prefrontal cortex of the brain, in order to strengthen this area,” says Dr Gala. “A stronger prefrontal cortex results in having better control over executive functions, which helps the child to be more focused. Not only that, but a strong prefrontal cortex means less impulsivity and better emotional regulation. Since this region of the brain is also important for higher executive functions, strengthening it results in better decision-making and goal-directed behavior.”
Makes brain more resilient
“Ultimately, neurofeedback is exercise for your brain,” explains Dr Gala. “Like any other muscle, the brain gets stronger and more resilient the more you exercise it. A resilient brain will not be easily affected by stressful conditions. A child with a resilient brain will be better able to cope with challenges in everyday life making it easier for them to function well cognitively and emotionally no matter the situation they may be in.”
NEED TO KNOW
Sessions are recommended to be done twice a week. 10 sessions costs Dhs5,500, 20 costs Dhs9,900. For more information, visit www.evolvebraintraining.com.