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Dec. 7, 2021

Neurofeedback: Rewiring the Brain Without Medication with Michael P. Cohen

Neurofeedback: Rewiring the Brain Without Medication with Michael P. Cohen

Our guest is Michael P. Cohen, Director and Chief of Neurotechnology at The Center for Brain.


Not many people have heard of neurofeedback and fewer have tried it. But as you’re about to learn, it’s basically like taking your brain to the gym. In this episode of The Fit Mess, Michael P. Cohen shares how he got involved with neurofeedback from a result they experienced firsthand in the family. He also talks about his professional advice to those who aren't yet ready to experience neurofeedback and the reason why you shouldn't be afraid of undergoing sessions.

Find out what you can expect from neurofeedback in this episode of The Fit Mess with Michael P. Cohen!

A Client's Neurofeedback Experience

In the episode, Michael shares about a client he once had. This client was a 49-year-old engineer who had worked for his company for around eight years already. Despite his age and nature of work, a particular trait made him very unique to Michael. He was very anxious. Michael recalls how this client would react scared to very common questions that he asked. And the client didn't even deny it. He admitted to feeling scared.

Michael considers this client as someone socially withdrawn. After a few more digging into the client, Michael decided to put him under 15 sessions. The sessions were most probably conducted twice every week. Fortunately, as the sessions went on, changes started to manifest on the client. One time, this highly anxious grown man crossed Michael in the hallway and gave him a big enthusiastic "Hey Michael!" That simple gesture almost made Michael fall to the ground. 

Hear about Michael's advice to those who aren't ready to experience neurofeedback yet in this episode of The Fit Mess!

About Michael P. Cohen:

Since 1996 Mike has devoted his life to learning about, using, teaching, and perfecting the art and science of neurofeedback and biofeedback. In the process of helping thousands of adults and children, he's become one of the most sought-after experts in the U.S. on the topic.

Over the years, Mike has built upon his ever-expanding knowledge base to acquire and offer a wide array of the best technology and training approaches in the profession. Besides providing multiple biofeedback and neurofeedback modalities, he offers several types of the latest brain maps in his clinic (the technology is ever-evolving, and he evolves along with it).

Mike frequently takes on the most difficult cases, often referred to him by physicians, mental health care practitioners, and other neurofeedback providers who have done all they can.

His caseload is a mix of simple and complicated situations involving anxiety, depression, concussion syndrome, and TBI, autism spectrum disorders, behavioral and attention issues, sleep, memory loss, and much more.

Mike has spent the past 25 years researching the brain, neurofeedback, and human behavior across multiple disciplines. He takes that near-encyclopedic knowledge and integrates it into his powerful and unique approach to brain health.

A passionate teacher, Mike offers sought-after in-person and online neurofeedback courses. They're attended by healthcare professionals from the U.S. and numerous foreign countries, many of whom he has mentored. He's a frequent speaker at healthcare conferences and medical schools.

Outline of the Episode:

[01:39] Your brain often autocorrects you

[05:38] What Neurofeedback is like

[08:05] Neurofeedback – What is the best exercise for your condition?

[11:45] Can you be sore from working out your brain?

[16:19] Neurofeedback merely helps you practice what you need to practice

[18:30] How neurofeedback affected Michael's father

[21:51] Michael's experience with a socially withdrawn client on neurofeedback

[26:08] How effective do results last?

[30:51] Michael P. Cohen – Advice from a neurofeedback expert on what to practice

Resources:

Website

International Society for Neuroregulation & Research

 

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Transcript

 

[00:00:00] Jeremy: Relief from stress, anxiety, ATD, or other psychological conditions, including anger issues. Maybe as simple as sitting back relaxing and enjoying music or a movie.

[00:00:10] Zach: That's the promise of neurofeedback therapy, which is a way to help your brain develop new pathways based on the thoughts, actions, and emotions you have. In this episode, we'll talk with Michael P. Cohen director and chief of neurotechnology at the center for brain. He'll share how it works and why it could be the solution you've been looking for to manage your mental health issues. 

[00:01:03] Jeremy: Welcome to this episode of the fit mess. Thanks for listening while you're doing whatever it is you're doing right now. I'm Jeremy, he's Zach, and together we're two vulnerable guys helping you overcome struggles to achieve your mental and physical wellness goals. Zach, I'm really excited to share this episode because this is something that I have heard about.

[00:01:18] I've been told, could be something that would be helpful for me, but I've never actually taken the time to understand or even look into it until we talked with our guest Michael Pico, and he's the author of neurofeedback 1 0 1 rewiring the brain for ADHD, anxiety, depression, and beyond again, I've never done this.

[00:01:34] This is really new stuff for me, but you've actually done some of this.

[00:01:37] Zach: I did. And I was actually surprised when I showed up to do it, they were like, Hey, , pick something on Netflix to watch. I was like, whew, that, that's what I do when I'm emotionally eating really. it was, very interesting how it works. , , you had all these things hooked up to your head, detecting your brainwaves and the TV, like whatever show you were watching would like fade in and out of focus based on the pathways that were running in your head.

[00:02:05] And as it went out of focus, your brain would just kind of auto, correct. To make it come into focus and it would bring it back into focus when it noticed, , different patterns in your brainwaves. And I was just sitting there for an hour watching a documentary. , I was actually watching keel.

[00:02:22] Um, it was so weird cause I was like, this is whew, this is not working at all. But then after an hour, she took everything off and she's like, how do you feel? And I was like, I feel like I've been talking all day long. My brain felt like mush and it was really tired it was great that, , Dr.

[00:02:44] Cohen actually confirmed that. That's one of , , the feelings that you get from it.

[00:02:47] Jeremy: That's the thing that's so interesting about this is that whenever I've heard of it, you picture these things being attached to your head. I, you know, in my, in my mind, without doing any research, I just kept making this. Is, does it like shock your head when you have the wrong thought? Like, is there some pain associated with.

[00:03:03] But it's, it's literally your brain just auto-corrects based on the things that you're either watching, or I heard , if you're doing it by listening to music, like the music will drop out and your brain will adjust so that you can then hear the music. And it just, it helps carve out those pathways because of the neuroplasticity in our brain that, you know, our brains are not permanently the way they are.

[00:03:20] We can change them by changing our thoughts. And this is as you'll hear, like going to a gym for your brain.

[00:03:26] Zach: Yeah, it really is just sitting there watching TV. There's no active thought happening at all. It's your brain is doing all the heavy lifting in the background and you just don't know

[00:03:36] Jeremy: That was the part that was confusing to me. Cause I thought , it's something where I will have to make some mental shift to adjust to whatever I'm watching, but you're literally just sitting there. That's I mean, that's my kind of workout by the way. If, if I'm, if I'm going to go to a gym, this is the gym for me.

[00:03:51] Zach: yes, no, it was, I actually was able to pay attention to the documentary I was watching. It was really cool. , it was definitely. , interesting. I think I had some issues with, , the person that I was seeing was actually brand new to neurofeedback and, , I don't think she was as well educated in the process she needed to be.

[00:04:10] So I didn't have a great experience, , as a whole, but like, I totally saw the difference. , a couple of days afterwards, I actually felt just a little bit better. 

[00:04:17] Jeremy: I think that's something you're going to find in any medical practice though. Right? Any therapist you're going to go to, you're either going to mesh with them, or you're not, you're going to go to a doctor and you're either going to like them or you're not, or you're just going to be indifferent. But I think that this is another example of that, if you do go and that person is not a good fit. Try someone else. Try it. I would imagine a few times and see if you notice a difference, , like so many of the things we talk about on the show, you have to do it more than once to make sure that it's something that is going to work for your body or your brain in this case.

[00:04:42] Zach: Right. Doc , is one of those things where you may only need one session in order to feel a difference, or you might need 10. It just depends on you and how your brain is. , I did joke with, , the woman who helped me out. I was like, she's like, no, you won't notice anything. It's just going to be like watching something. And I was like, I don't know. My brain is so screwy. I have a feeling I'm going to set off the smoke detectors in here. She thought it was funny, but then she corrected me and said, no, that's not how it works.

[00:05:13] I've done neurofeedback, Jeremy. You've never done it, but as per. We're not the experts here. We found somebody who knows a thing or two about neurofeedback, we had the opportunity to talk with Michael P. Cohen, the director and chief of neurotechnology at the center for brain, about neurofeedback and all of the questions that we had about it. , but we just started with what is neurofeedback and why it might be able to help us. 

[00:05:38] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: Neurofeedback. I tell people is primarily a gym for the brain. Meaning if I have. We gums are sore legs or, you know, I'm weak. And I go to the gym and I work out with weights. It makes you stronger. They say, and if you pump those muscles, the more you pump them, the stronger you get. If you want to strengthen circuits in your brain, you come here and we help you pump your neurons.

[00:06:08] So instead of pumping your muscles, We help people pump their neurons. And when they do that consistently over time, they strengthen those circuits. But those are things that happen as you do them over time. That's kind of a learning model. So the more you do it, the better you get at that. Now, when I say this, you know, how do you.

[00:06:29] Actually do this because, you know, I want to strengthen those neurons. But if I told you that over your left frontal lobe, by the way, which plays a role in mood that I want you to increase the number of neurons firing 15 to 20 times per second, to kind of lift your mood, or at least that might lift your mood.

[00:06:47] , You would have a hard time doing that. So what I do is we, what feedback people do is they put sensors over the head and it measures what your neurons are essentially doing your EEG. That's what EEG tells you. My neurons are making a certain speed and. It's connected to a computer and you're either playing like a game or you're watching a movie and when you're doing it right, it stays on.

[00:07:14] And so the computer is basically letting you know, okay, I'm doing it right. I'm not doing it right. I'm doing it right. I'm not doing it?

[00:07:19] Right. Kind of like if you're learning any game, how do you actually learn a game? You keep practicing. You don't know what the heck you're doing, but you keep practicing and eventually you get better at it.

[00:07:28] But. I say the word practice. So you literally have to practice getting your neurons to fire, but since you don't know how to do that, you need special equipment that says you're doing it. You're not doing it, you're doing it. You're not doing it. And over time, your brain learns. 

[00:07:42] Zach: So is this something that we can do at home or do we have to go work with a professional? 

[00:07:48] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: So it's a tricky question in that most people currently who have. More clinical issues have been doing it by going to clinicians offices who are trained how to do this. And so you go to the gym and somebody puts the sensors on and helps figure out what is the best exercise for your depression. Cause there's more than one area of the brain that can play a role in that.

[00:08:17] And so where do I put it? Even though I said, you can run at a certain speed. Some people need to go a little faster. Some people need to go a little slower. You have to, to some degree adapt the exercise to each individual. Like you would at a gym, uh, or like, you know, if I'm learning math, everybody learns it a little differently.

[00:08:35] So that is why you might go to a professional. And for someone who really knows what they're doing, I mean, obviously, cause you don't know what to do with your brain. What's the best exercise. Yeah. Has things changed since COVID, it's changing somewhat in that sense. It's not really that hard for you to have a system at home.

[00:08:59] I can dial in somebody else can dial in and make sure you're doing it correctly. Help guide you on what is the exercise? I mean, are people using coaches for working out remotely now they do, because we're used to this. So is it possible to do that? Yes. Are there many clinicians who are supporting people at home because you really do have to customize the exercise.

[00:09:24] It's not always easy to do that for people who have depression and anxiety and sleep issues and add because you only, they only tell you what they tell you. So sometimes in person is very helpful. You want the best coach that you can get. So to some degree, I know this is a very long answer to your question, but, um, yes, you can do it at home.

[00:09:46] As long as you have somebody who knows what the heck they're doing to help you. 

[00:09:49] Zach: With that I want to ask more about, when I go to the gym and I do a particular hard workout, I know the next day that I worked my muscles right by my legs are sore, my muscles hurt. And I know that they're regrowing and I'm getting stronger when I work out my mind or I went, when I work out these neurons, am I going to know right away?

[00:10:09] Or is it something that needs a lot of time in the. What's that what's that look like? 

[00:10:16] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: It's actually a great question by the way. Uh, nobody's ever asked me that question exactly that way. , the workout in your mind. I mean, if I asked you to work hard at figuring out these new math problems. Are you in fact, engaging your brain in a high intensity activity, you are, you're sitting there going, I've got to try to figure this out.

[00:10:37] , do you feel that the next day, many people do not, some people will tell you their brain hurts while they're doing it. Correct. So everybody's a little different, the more you get used to a workout, the less. You have soreness. So when somebody starts with us, I let them know that there are three things that could happen after they run a session.

[00:11:04] So when you're first starting to exercise, but X, this is a learning exercise. You don't, it's not quite as intense as a workout, but I say you may notice something better. So if you have a sleep. If you have a mood issue, are you likely to notice after one session that I'm going to feel better? I think that's partly what you're saying also.

[00:11:24] , and the answer is. Maybe yes and often, no, because it is cumulative. Uh, it's kinda like more like I'm going to go and I'm going to learn how to play tennis. I've never played tennis before. And I do my first lesson and am I actually able to play tennis at that point? Not really. You know, it's going to take practice to get going well, could I be.

[00:11:47] That's another question. Could I be sore from working out my brain? So if I asked you to increase the amount of activity over your left frontal lobe, because that can play a role in mood and you do a great job of that. And you actually may even notice. Okay. I feel my mood is just a little bit better. I have people who all the time will tell me that.

[00:12:08] And some people don't notice anything by the way. , well, how will I feel tomorrow? I don't actually know. And could you actually notice something positive tomorrow? Yes. Could you notice that boy that was a workout and it kind of kicked up some of the stuff you already deal with? Actually the answer is yes.

[00:12:27] So do I ever have workouts that stir things up for people? Yes. Am I stirring it up? No. Does the equipment store it up? No. It's you exercising those circuits. So if you went to the gym and you got stirred up a little bit and somebody says, well, God, I never want to do that again. You'd go. No, actually that means you're working the right circuit and you need to practice.

[00:12:52] It's stronger. So I don't want anybody to ever say does working out your brain have no noticeable effect. It can, but it's, it's a workout. So how long, by the way, if you're sore, does it last a day or two? Yeah. So how I tell people, okay. If it stirs anything up, how long will it last? Usually a day or two maximum, then I will just go with.

[00:13:17] Jeremy: So I love this gym analogy. Is there any application for it, if I'm in the middle of a, of a depressive or an anxious episode, is it something that can sort of treat that acute, , situation? Can, can I put this on or have this experience and feel better immediately or is this really just training the brain to prevent future episodes?

[00:13:40] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: It is some of both. So if I know you and I am used to helping you work out your brain and I've helped figure out what are some of the better exercises that you respond to because that's part of the process. What are the kind of exercises you're going to respond to? How much training do we need to do?

[00:13:59] How much time should it be? Frequency, which is kind of like how much weight, what frequencies should we target? So once we figure that out, if I have somebody who's kind of hit the skids and they need to come back in and feel better often in one or two sessions, we can help them get back on track. But if you walked in the door and you were on the floor, I mean, you, you can't, you know, you're, you're having really bad mood issues.

[00:14:22] I have to be really cautious when I first started working out with you. I can't. He hit it so hard, so takes a little bit of time to figure out my clients and know what's the best way to do it. So it's, it's a bit of a process. 

[00:14:39] Zach: As I told you, before we started recording, I've done this before.

[00:14:42] And I, what I always found was for me in, in the very beginning, as soon as it was done, I was tired. And that, title. That you get from having to use your brain all day, like meetings or discussions or something like that. It was very tiring to me. Is that, is that normal? Yeah. 

[00:15:02] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: So it is common for some people and not at all for others.

[00:15:07] I have people who leave and they go, wow, I'm feeling more calm. Wow. I'm feeling more alert. Wow. I'm feeling more tired. Okay. So then we also ask questions. Like, are you tired? Relaxed? Are you tired? Sleepy. Are you tired? You better not drive in traffic cause I'm going to hit some ways. I mean, how, what do we mean by tired?

[00:15:30] So which is by the way, if you overworked out at the gym. Yeah. You might not be an optimum place to perform at that moment. So it is really up to the individual coach, the clinician or coach. How is this person leaving? And do we need to make adjustments and more importantly than did you leave tired, but I still want to know, are you so tired?

[00:15:55] You can't think, I mean, that's very untypical, but, uh, that might be overturning. How did you do tomorrow? How did you do the next day? So I'm less concerned with if you're tired. Okay. You had a good workout. How did you do later? Because it's the, it's the cumulative process of how does my brain respond to that?

[00:16:16] You don't always know right away. Okay. 

[00:16:19] Jeremy: So I can hear people listening to this right now and thinking, okay, you're going to hook up some wires to my head and monkey with the wiring in my brain. There must be some danger. There must be some risk I'm taking. When I plugged into this thing. Can you address those concerns?

[00:16:32] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: Okay. So I am putting sensors on your head to measure. I don't put anything in your head. I'm measuring my brain's doing this. It's not doing it. You know, I'm making more of this. I'm not, I'm making more of this or not. So all the machine does in neurofeedback. The only thing it does is telling you, am I ma am I doing more of this activity?

[00:16:53] So it's just letting me help practice now. If I over train you, is it possible to overtrain? Yes. Okay. How do you keep from over-training somebody you ask them, how are you doing? How's it going? You know, you don't just go here. Let's do 30 minutes at the end. Go. How'd that go? I mean, that doesn't mean nobody does that.

[00:17:22] And I'm not saying that that doesn't work because there are plenty of people who are. It's just not sensitive to the training. I mean, it's like you do the training and they're like, I didn't notice anything, you know, and those are going to take longer, but we also have people who are more sensitive, just like if you would go to the gym and you use your 30 minutes, you might not be able to lift your arm over your head for four days, if you do the wrong thing. 

[00:17:45] So 

[00:17:45] Jeremy: gym the other day? Is that, is that what's going on here?

[00:17:49] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: the point is that people do ask, what are you doing? And the. It's just a gym. It's just an exercise. So when, when I have people who are sensitive to the world, we go real slow. Let's do a few minutes. Let's see how you do. And then we gradually build up. So it's really individualized, but that's why I say listening matters.

[00:18:13] Just no different than a gym. Really. You got to get the right coach. 

[00:18:20] Zach: No. I agree with that. , I am interested though. ,

[00:18:23] what got you into this field? What, what made you interested in pursuing this and understanding it and educating people on it? 

[00:18:30] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: So in 1994, my father had a very severe, extreme depressive episode.

[00:18:41] So he had had that two or three times. It was like before that, in which they have. Seeing psychiatrist they'd ended up doing both medications and then ultimately shock therapy, ECT electroshock therapy that brought him out. And then he was fine for 10 years, 15 years. Well, this time he went back into this episode, they did all the things they had done before.

[00:19:04] It did not bring them out. So he was basically at this point 77, he had just retired and he was not functioning. Read a book. He couldn't watch TV. He couldn't have a conversation with you. He just obsessed constantly. And isn't very smart guy. So, you know, it's like, you're going everywhere. Going, what do you do?

[00:19:25] And they're like, well, maybe you have to institutionalize them. Maybe. I mean, you know, it's bad. So I kept looking, looking, looking, looking, and tried a lot of nutritional stuff, which frankly didn't at the time, what I knew didn't bring him out of it because I had to convince my mom. I ended up finding out about this kind of ran into a psychiatrist has said, you should check this out.

[00:19:46] I'd never heard of it nor feedback. What is that? And found the closest place that I could, which was six hours away from my mom and two hours north of where I was in Atlanta. And my mom went after I convinced her to take him 10 days in a row. And he started training and I went up on the sixth day to kind of check in cause I was working.

[00:20:08] And he turns around while I walk in. Cause he was literally in that center of saying, Mike, how's it going? And I was like, okay, that's different. That was not happening. And so from that point on I'm like, what is this? And I got intrigued. I CA literally came from high tech, very complex systems. The brain is actually turns out the most complex system.

[00:20:32] I'm really just a brain troubleshooter. That's all I do. And, Um,

[00:20:37] Basically, I heard ran into several other people at that clinic who had some remarkable stories from trauma, lifelong trauma that had turned around from, uh, some brain injury and pain stuff that had just turned around. And I'm like, how come everybody doesn't know about this?

[00:20:58] Now you might still say how come still, everybody doesn't know about it. So at that time it was probably. Oh, oh 1% of the population. We might even be at 1% now, so it's improved, but 

[00:21:12] Jeremy: that's an incredible story. I'm wondering in your own practice, are there other stories that, that even you are just like, wow, I can't believe that person's transformation had there been just incredible 

[00:21:23] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: there, there have, and I don't want to limit it to me because I could call. 50 clinicians around the country and get similar stories.

[00:21:31] So the book that I wrote is called by the way, neurofeedback 1 0 1, how to rewire your brain for ADHD, anxiety sleep. But there are a number of cases we made very great, , efforts to really describe real, real, just everyday cases.

[00:21:48] So. I mean, I had a guy That was, uh, his wife was bringing their son and then she says, you know, I think my husband actually has a problem. And this guy, she brings him in, uh, he. Maybe a little bit on the autistic spectrum, but nobody had ever diagnosed it. He was so socially withdrawn that when I'm talking to him, I mean, you could just look at this guy and I'm asking him some basic questions about what experiences and he is like scared.

[00:22:21] And I'm like, he's 49 years old. And I'm like, am I making you nervous? This is a very stressful thing. Oh yes, this terrible. I have learned not making other people nervous for a living, cause they're always nervous when they come to do this. Um, and so I asked him, well, you work at a job, you're an engineer, correct?

[00:22:41] He says, yes. I said, do those people make you nervous? Oh, every day everybody I talk to makes me nervous. How long have you worked there? Eight years. So this is a very anxious, socially withdrawn guy. So here's the end of the story. We do 15 sessions with him of neurofeedback probably twice a week, and I have staff.

[00:23:08] So I don't always see him all the time. And he comes he's at the end of the hall, walking down and he striding down the hall instead of being withdrawn, a yells out across to me. Hey Mike, how's it going? And I'm like almost falling on the floor. 

[00:23:26] I mean, how is That So How is that possible? is the question.

[00:23:31] So I didn't do it. We put wires just to measure his brain activity. Exercise a part of his brain that plays a role by the way, in social anxiety and feeling more calm. That's all he did. We didn't teach him how to be calm. We simply worked on helping him exercise the part of your brain. That's supposed to do that.

[00:23:56] If you're not calm, how do you make yourself calm? I mean, it's really actually hard to explain why I breathe and I try to get myself together and you do all these things, but if the part of your brain that's supposed to be calm or not, not like you react, you know, to somebody saying something nasty to you.

[00:24:10] And instead of you getting upset, you just sit there calmly. How do you do that? There's parts of your brain over your temporal lobe of your ears that play a role in how you manage your emotions. If they don't do their job perfectly. You can freak out. You can, you can get angry, you can get emotionally upset, you can get triggered and you could take medications to solve that.

[00:24:32] Or you could just exercise the heck out of your temporal lobes until you get better at calming or managing how you react emotionally.

[00:24:41] Jeremy: How is this exercise different than meditation or breath work? Is it just, is it just the monitoring that helps, you know, how to change the

[00:24:51] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: So it's, so the answer, which is a little techie is real-time feedback, but think of what you do with real-time feedback, have you ever written on a skateboard? Have you ever gotten on a skateboard? Okay. I've gotten on a skateboard. Okay. So the first time you got on a skateboard, did you fall. 

[00:25:08] Jeremy: Probably. Yeah. 

[00:25:09] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: Almost certainly.

[00:25:11] Okay. How did you learn to I can't run on a skateboard. So tell, explain to me how to balance. Okay. You could not possibly explain to me how to bounce. What happens is you get feedback? I fell off. I tried again. I fell off. Oh, now I'm fell. I stayed on a little longer until I fell off your brain learned.

[00:25:30] From patterns. When I get a new game, I don't have a clue how it works. I just keep practicing until I figured out the pattern, your brain picks up patterns for a living. That's what it does. With that constant learning, your brain just gets better at a pattern. The more it practices, we're just telling you, here's what pattern your brain is making.

[00:25:52] Let's make more of the one that helps you be more calm or helps you pay attention or. Helps you sleep. I mean, there's patterns in your brain that helps support your sleep. If you're a lousy at sleep, how do you improve that? Let's take a drug, but you can strengthen those circuits. 

[00:26:09] Zach: So is this something to that?

[00:26:11] I know you said it's cumulative, but. , do you do 15 sessions and then you're done or is there maintenance that you can do later on? Or do you have, you know, can, can those muscles get weak if they're not used later on in you and you need to go back for more sessions? 

[00:26:27] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: Oh, I love you. Your questions.

[00:26:29] It's great. So. Let's start with the idea that I don't know the answer to this question for any given individual, right? How long is it going to take me to play tennis? Okay. If I go out, I'm going to learn to play tennis deep, better. Cause I'm fairly shitty at it right now. Um, if, if I'm going to learn to play, how many lessons will it take to actually be.

[00:26:52] Can you just give me an idea more than one? How about eight, eight? You think eight times I can go out and be A lot, better in eight sessions for tennis? 

[00:27:01] No. 

[00:27:02] Okay. maybe,

[00:27:03] some people will and some people might. Fannie. So, I mean, if somebody says, how long will it take for me to not be anxious? I might ask questions like, well, is this anxiety recent or have you been anxious for the last 15 years? So if you've got your anxiety really down, okay. I am really good at anxiety. I've been practicing this for 15 years and I am just anxious. You're going to take longer than gee. I've been anxious recently because of COVID. But prior to that, I was never anxious before. So there's a lot.

[00:27:36] of factors that come into play.

[00:27:38] , in addition. Okay. Let's just be fairly direct. Cause this is the kind of stuff you guys talk about. Anyway. I think we live in a toxic world. Okay. If you eat. Bread that is contaminated with Roundup. That affects your gut and that affects your brain.

[00:27:58] If you eat sugar all day long, is that great for your brain? No, if you eat em, and I could pick many, many things that are not good for you, uh, having a cell phone against your head is not good for your brain. Now, nobody talks about this, but it's not good for your brain.

[00:28:14] I'm a brain game. It is not good for your brain. , So if you do that, will you. Will you slide or do we just live in a world that, you know, there's lots of chemicals, there's mold, there's all these things that affect us. So you may need maintenance depending upon what your lifestyle is. ,

[00:28:31] by the way, where do you sleep with your phone and how late do you go to bed and how well are you sleeping?

[00:28:36] So there's just many, many, many factors. That could affect how our brains work. So the great thing is that some people they can do the neurofeedback and they're good to go. Other people they're good to go for a while and then they start to slide. And fortunately, once you've trained, usually when I got people to come back two or three sessions maximum their back. Hmm. Interesting. Now that's not always true, but that is commonly true. Now the first time it might take 10, 15, 20, 40 sessions. It kind of depends on what we're doing. Could even be more, but you always have a tool that can help you get it. If your brain really responded to that. And most people's frankly do. ,

[00:29:21] in other words, it's just a matter of how many times once you're there. It really is much quicker to just get back on track. 

[00:29:28] Zach: I'm noticing a pattern here, so I suspect your answer is going to start with, it depends on the person, but you know, when, if somebody's starting to do this, is this something that they should do every day, every other day, once a week.

[00:29:42] Okay. So 

[00:29:43] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: in my office. So when clients come to our office, we typically say once or twice a week, depending upon , your life, because if they, if it's a big deal to come here, you know, do I ever have people who come every day? Well, if you're in crisis, If you're about to be kicked out of school, if you're falling apart and you came and walk out of the house, uh, I mean there, which are more and more it's happening.

[00:30:11] I mean, people are actually having a hard time getting out of their house. They're so overwhelmed. I mean, food, a crisis of any kind coming more often makes more sense if you've got some anxiety and you've had a long time, you just want to do a little better at it. Once a week might be fine. It's just, how quickly do you want to get there?

[00:30:29] Jeremy: So someone's convinced wants to try this, but maybe it's not in their area. It's out of the budget. Is there, are there other things that you can recommend that people can do without. Coming to see you or, or doing the home devices or whatever. Are there just things that people can do at home to try and, uh, replicate the results,

[00:30:52] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: Right. Rather than say, replicate, are there other things they can do that can be productive? Uh, because everything's going to be a little different. There is a variety of approaches that I talked to people about. Cause I get calls frankly, from all over the world and. Really just at that point, guiding them.

[00:31:11] What are the best options is neurofeedback, even the right?

[00:31:14] option for you, uh, given your situation costs as well as would you actually do it, you know, you don't want to spend money and do it, get the equipment, and then it just sits there, which we've seen. Uh, so one, I tell them sleep better. Sleep is number one, and turn off your wifi router and reduce your wifi exposure.

[00:31:38] It does mess up your sleep along with blue light exposure also messes up your sleep. So hopefully, but I tell that to everybody and I probably annoy everybody because nobody wants to deal with that. Okay. But it it's physiologically, affecting period. Okay. So that's number one. Number two. Diet and nutrition clean up your diet, do a more deep dive on an anti-inflammatory diet, which is much better for your brain.

[00:32:05] , as well as there are some good supplements that I have learned with. Really pretty darn well for the brain. So, you know, I don't need to get into that unless you want me to, but there's some really good supplements after years of looking that actually worked relatively well. And then there are neurotech tools.

[00:32:24] So there are other neurotechnology tools that can be very effective. There is for example, something called audio, visual entrainment. Have you ever heard of that? Yep. Okay. So that means I put glasses on that flat. 

[00:32:38] Jeremy: Mm.

[00:32:39] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: Okay. So what the heck does that mean? So let's say that you, have you ever been to a disco or someplace where there's flashing lights and you learn to dance to the beat?

[00:32:48] Okay. Light splashing your dance to the beat. All Right.

[00:32:51] So if I put glasses on and I pulse that 12 times per second, that is matching a pattern of your brain that helps you be more alert, calm, and. So I have multiple programs. You're going to be a little more alert, you know, like coffee, or do you want to be a little more relaxed because I'm already wired.

[00:33:10] I need to, so I can slow the speed down, but it's not what you see at a disco. It's a specific brain pattern. So you can put those thing on. And if you do it consistently, now, it's not as powerful as neurofeedback, but if you can do it every day at home, your brain learns. Tap to the beat. So it just recruits neurons to do that.

[00:33:31] It's one of the most underutilized tools. There's a company called mind a lot. I really liked, but there are other companies, but they're really knowledgeable that do a great job of having this tool. So why is it not more widely used while most people never heard of it? Number one, number two, there is a really big problem with this tool.

[00:33:53] You have to sit there for 20 to 30 minutes and do nothing. Okay. So that means it's, some people might consider that whoring. Um, and God knows we can't do anything boring to help our health, but is it effective? Yes. You also have to figure out which pattern is going to help me the most. So do I actually do better with calming pattern or do I do better?

[00:34:22] Some people think they need to be more calm and in fact, they need to be more. Yeah, so there, so we try to help guide people on what the best approach might be, but you can figure this stuff out yourself. And there are other tools there's tools you can put on your ears called a cranial electrical stimulation.

[00:34:42] You'd never heard of this either, but micro current on your, on your ears to help you calm down and help you sleep. So if you can calm down and sleep, you can, you can deal with a lot of other. So there's, there's more tools than that. I'm just trying to give you your, your question is, are there things out there?

[00:35:01] Those are. Pretty simple ones. I don't know how much, you know, about light pulse, you know, led light actually can help. And there's led lights for the brain now, but they're a little bit expensive. So those other tools were a little less expensive and, and there's more so. 

[00:35:19] Zach: I can say from experience. Um, my massage therapist actually used the goggles, the light, the light goggles while I was getting a massage.

[00:35:29] And he said it too, to be relaxed. I never fall asleep during massages. And that time I was out like a light point on the word I was out. As soon as the goggles came off, I fell asleep within two minutes. It wasn't. 

[00:35:46] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: I have a guy that was a bad sleeper for 40 years. So he's in his fifties, his, I mean, his wife is like, oh my God, he is the worst possible sleeper is just terrible and very add.

[00:35:59] Um, which by the way, if your sleep is bad, your intention. And it can also affect your mood. So you gotta fix the sleep. , he used these light and sound glasses. Now his wife made Sure

[00:36:12] that he used it every day for a while. And after about 30 to 40 days, He started sleeping better than he had ever slept before, like six to seven hours a night, which for him was at a time, which was unheard of.

[00:36:29] However, if he had been left alone to do it, he was very add and he probably would not have done that. So the cumulative part of doing which you guys probably know quite well is getting into a habit of doing something. It's actually the hardest thing of all. Yeah, 

[00:36:47] Jeremy: this is all fascinating stuff. So if someone, maybe isn't in your area, I don't know if you, if you offer the service online somehow, how does somebody even pre. Starting this kind of a practice.

[00:37:01] Mike Cohen Interview - USB: Uh, meaning they need help and they want to look for someone. Okay. So there, I mean, our website has a lot of additional information. That's educational, so they can look at our website. So our website is center for brain three words center for brain.com. , there's. Professional organization.

[00:37:22] , I S N r.org org. That has a list of some providers. Quite frankly, if you type in on Google. Neurofeedback and your zip code, you are likely to find some listings, but you really do need to dig in to find out how long they've been doing it. And there, you know, like any other, you'd go into a doctor, a therapist, you want to know that they're a good fit for you.

[00:37:45] So you better do some of your own checking on that. , I will do consultations with people remotely to try to help figure out. What are their options, if there's nobody around them, , and try to just, God, well, what might make the most sense? Could they do neurofeedback at home? Is that even practical or do some of these other kinds of tools actually mean more for where they're at?

[00:38:07] But there are a variety of people really around the world, but relatively small number of frankly who do it still. So you do have to look. 

[00:38:16] Jeremy: That was Michael P. Cohen author of neurofeedback 1 0 1, rewiring the brain for ADHD, anxiety, depression, and beyond, without medication, which is something I know so many people are trying to do to deal with their mental health issues are thanks to him for being on the show. There is a link to it on the show notes for this episode@thefitnessdotcom 

[00:38:35] Zach: and while you're doing that, you can also head on over to Facebook and join the fitness community Facebook group that we have going on. Again, it's just a really good place to. Uh, take the podcast to the next level and have interactive conversations with us and other listeners 

[00:38:51] Jeremy: but for now, that's going to wrap it up. Thanks so much for listening to this episode, we will be back next week with a brand new episode@thefitness.com.

[00:38:59] Zach: It's everyone.

Michael P. Cohen Profile Photo

Michael P. Cohen

Director and Chief of Neurotechnology

Michael P. Cohen is Director and Chief of Neurotechnology at the Center for Brain Training in Jupiter, Florida, one of the largest neurofeedback practices in South Florida. He’s specialized in neurofeedback and helping individuals improve their brain function since 1996. He’s taught more than 2,500 health professionals how to utilize neurofeedback in clinical practice.