Oxygen is critical to all human life. Most of us don’t think about oxygen as energy, but that is essentially how it is used. The brain, in particular, requires a lot of oxygen to function. If the brain does not get enough energy, it cannot properly code and process sensory information. The brain has a very high metabolic rate (it uses a lot of energy) because of the neural activity of densely packed neurons which are constantly active. The availability and ability to use this energy is closely related to brain performance.
Neuroplasticity Requires Oxygen
We use Oxygen Therapy during every neurofeedback training to increase oxygen levels in the brain. We have found this to be superior to our former use of the HEG. Oxygen Therapy is supplied via a cannula and an oxygen concentrator and is non invasive and painless. It is combined with the BrainCore therapy to provide faster and more synergistic results.
Fun facts about your brain’s energy usage:
- The adult brain accounts for 20% of the adult body’s resting metabolic energy use while it accounts for only 2% of the total body mass
- 80% of the brain’s energy use is for neural processing and signaling
- The child spends 50% of ALL metabolic energy expense on Central Nervous System (CNS) processing
The Prefrontal Cortex
The PFC is the region of the cortex behind the forehead. It plays a central role in making decisions, formulating and carrying out plans and intentions and sticking to those plans in the face of distraction. For example, suppose it is time for your evening meal. Your PFC will formulate a plan for meeting that need. Your PFC accesses the knowledge you need such as your memory of where you keep your pots and pans as well as the ingredients for the meal. Suppose the phone rings while you are cooking – you decide to answer it, your PFC will hold your intentions to finish cooking the meal so that you can come back to cooking when you are done.
The PFC also has the ability to inhibit other areas of the brain connected to emotions, enabling you to, for example, override a fear of heights when you need to climb a ladder. In summary, the PFC controls attention, blocks distractions in the environment, controls physical and emotional impulses and helps access your memory. However, in order for the PFC to function properly it requires blood flow to supply it with the nutrients necessary for metabolism. Studies have demonstrated that some individuals have limited blood flow to this area of the brain. For example, children and adults with ADD/ADHD have a decreased blood flow to this area of the brain.
The Goal of Oxygen Therapy
Whereas the goal of neurofeedback is to train the individual to produce and/or inhibit certain brainwaves, the goal of Oxygen Therapy is to increase blood flow to the PFC and the entire brain. Increasing the amount of blood to the PFC will result in increased metabolism thereby allowing this area of the brain to function optimally. Like neurofeedback, Oxygen Therapy is completely non-invasive and drugless.
Oxygen Therapy and ADD/ADHD
ADD/ADHD is a real neurological disorder and typically results in dysregulation of the PFC. Brain scanning studies have shown different activity in the PFC of children and adults suffering with ADD/ADHD. These scans have demonstrated a deactivation of the PFC during tasks requiring concentrated attention, for which you would normally see an increase in PFC activity. This deactivation results in the symptoms commonly seen with this condition.