As I’ve climbed further down this rabbit hole of electronic, physiological, and mental health mumbo jumbo, I’ve wanted to come around again to what the key ideas of brain-blood flow biofeedback are and how I believe that should inform a very wide array of health and education practices in schools, prisons and rehab programs, and clinics.
The principles of brain-blood flow biofeedback are based on a few simple facts observed about the body. The first main fact is every living thing in your body needs constant blood supply to function and renew itself. With the central nervous system it gets a little more involved, where in order to fire on-time local neurons selectively draw energy from the bloodstream via astrocytes and intricate vasculature, and require quite a bit of energy to do so. So much, in fact, that the brain uses up to 40% of your daily energy, and 20% just in resting state.
Without fresh energy - if your support organs stop doing their jobs, or if there is regional damage due to physical trauma or cumulative and/or traumatic stress effects - those neurons quit functioning right. 5 minutes without any energy supply and those neurons rapidly atrophy and die. Cumulative or traumatic stress limit or even regress our development and maturation, too, and some of the markers are reduced haemodynamic response and cortical blood perfusion. We can help remediate and even begin to heal such effects directly by increasing energy availability through brain-blood flow exercise while improving our general health in tandem.'
The second main fact is your body needs constant movement to grow, and the kind of movement you give it determines how your body grows. This is as simple as training your arms and legs and feeling your arms and legs adapt and grow in response, but this idea applies directly to brain and cognitive development, too. You can’t become proficient in any skills without practice, and your body builds itself by what you practice.
A rule of thumb with neurons is that they have to “fire to wire,” as in, neural network development happens primarily by the movement of energy through the nervous system, defining preferential circuits - therefore dominant mental states and problem solving abilities. This means all of your cognitive and physical skills are defined and tuned by this physical process. All of your bad habits are, too, and addiction is an example of this process pushed to extremes. Brain blood flow training provides a conditioning tool to help brains fire when we are trying to wire it for our skills or for better health. The general increase in energy can also greatly soften the impact of stress and help us build true resilience.
While we have a massive amount of incredible structures and instinctual abilities built into our bodies by our genes, all of our social and higher order linguistic functions are developed through interpersonal exchange and related practices like parenting and school. However, there are nuances to how physical feedback and social feedback are intricately intermingled in our overall life learning and the abilities we accumulate. This is mainly tied to the relationship between A. Cognitive processing and the demanding physical requirements for our nervous system to develop, train, and maintain itself; and B. The environment we create for learning and the slants toward different cognitive modes created therein. To clarify B, I simply mean the difference between a stressful, ideologized or survival-based learning environment and a stress-free environment that meets our fairly complex needs as human beings while enabling critical consciousness.
This leads back to the idea of using physical education in everything - from letting kids run around on the playground and do physics experiments in the lab - and often, to integrating these insights in brain health and development to inform every aspect of school curriculum just like we already consider, say, brain development phases in early childhood education through high school. This could help schools, prisons, rehab programs, and clinics all help students, incarcerated people, and patients all stay focused on integrating the core essentials of maintaining their mind-body connection in every aspect of their life, and how that impacts and eventually accelerates their future choices and abilities. This could dramatically improve people’s emotional resilience and vital inner strength for learning and healing. For the general public it’s just as useful for these reasons while the need might not be as obvious. A healthier society forms the foundation for a healthier world, and boy do we need that in this hour.
A Call to Action:
HEG is not a requirement to educate people on the information I’ve presented here. However, the HEG device often gets most of these points across to individuals in a deeper physical way after just one or a few go’s with it in tandem with the informational education. It and devices just like it also show promise as a primary intervention for a whole slew of conditions. This device to me speaks as potentially being an essential tool in firmly grounding our growth and healing as human beings in this wild, wild world.
If this comes to be your view, too, there is work to be done researching and integrating these tools in affordable ways into the wider world, so we can canonize it as part of a public health initiative for a widely applicable and non-invasive brain health intervention. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, mean-time it’s back to work for me.