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Neurotopia offers acute training for the brain

April 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
To excel in dancing, in music and in sports we practice, practice, practice. It's no secret that the body gets better with the brain's help through repetition. A neuro-feedback program called Neurotopia is helping some people train their brain to achieve their goals.

"We're looking for better sleep, we're looking for lower stress, more focus, intensity of focus, duration of focus, those kind of things," said James Seay, co-founder of Neurotopia.

Seay says the machine used to treat attention-deficit disorder (ADD), seizures and migraines has expanded into other areas.

"It's any kind of training skills that can help me out, I'm going to take advantage of it," said Woodland Hills resident Tyler Kolodny.

Kolodny is a minor league baseball player. He says he's seen substantial changes using it.

"The first thing actually, was when I went to sleep at night, boom -- I was asleep," said Kolodny. "If I get a little distracted, or I get a little off-center, I'm able to catch myself and bring myself centered and back to focus."

Professional athletes have done well with this program, but now it's crossed over to the mainstream. It's being used by regular people who are struggling with goals both in and out of the gym.

"The brain is so powerful, so we believe in training the brain alongside with the skeletal muscular system," said Michael Davis, Elite Fitness Plus.

Davis uses it at his high-end wellness center, where executives and athletes strive to break negative habits and patterns.

Sports medicine expert Holden MacRae says Neurotopia is brilliant in helping with post-traumatic stress disorder as well.

"The quantitative EEG that Neurotopia uses allows you to map the brain and determine at least for blast injuries or mal trauma to the brain, where the injury is, and then treat it," said MacRae, an exercise physiologist and professor of sports medicine at Pepperdine University.

The machine reads delta and theta brain waves. Those measure brain activity during the dream and recovery states.

It also measures alpha waves, your brain's activity when you're relaxed; and beta waves, which are given off when we're at our most alert state.

Leads placed on the brain register wave activity, noting underachieving and over-performing waves.

"It's telling me how quickly his brain is assimilating to what we're asking it to do," said Seay. "It's like a treadmill for the brain. So if his brain catches on and starts to do better, then I can actually increase the treadmill."

It takes about 15 to 20 of these 30-minute sessions to retrain the brain. At $95 a session, it's pricey, although some insurance companies are covering, depending on need. But unlike regular exercise, studies show once the brain is trained, it's apt to stay that way.