Seven Assumptions about Brain Training
If you’ve been reading about or studying neurofeedback, you may think you know certain “facts” about the brain and brain-training. You see them stated in every research article, in magazine stories, on websites, from professionals. They’re obviously true.
But we’re going to start by drilling down through the layer of “conventional wisdom” about brain-training to identify and evaluate whatever assumptions we find.
Assumptions define what direction we look—they focus our attention—but they can also cut off huge areas of possibility. In one way, the history of science is a history of people looking away from the crowd and seeing things in a new way—changing the assumptions.
Some Great Assumptions from the Past
Assumptions simplify thinking. They give us a starting point most of us agree on.
The earth is flat. Otherwise, we’d fall off. That was a proven fact…until someone unmasked it as an assumption.
When Galileo began to demonstrate that the earth orbited the sun—not the other way round—he turned much of the “science” of the day on its head. He was not welcomed by the most powerful, most educated, most successful, most respected experts. His facts were ignored, called into question. Galileo was persecuted, exiled and told to shut up.
For centuries our sciences have been based in the physics of Newton. To call them into question was as crazy as saying that things could fall UP. Then a patent clerk named Einstein noticed a relationship that cut the floor from under a whole set of experts.
When Hans Berger, a psychiatrist, discovered that he could read and measure electrical activity in the brain through the skull, he was considered a crank by the German medical establishment. It only took them 15 years to get around to accepting his results!
A basic tenet of neurology was that the brain is born with every neuron it will ever have. From that day on, they only die. That wasn’t a theory. That was a fact. Until some guys looking off in a different direction provided new evidence. Today the fact is reversed: the brain does add neurons throughout its life.
Why do we Have Assumptions?
Conventional wisdom may make science more “efficient” (you don’t have to prove everything every time) and makes our world easier to understand. But sometimes it’s nothing more than a detailed map down a dead-end street!
So why, with history littered with embarrassing examples of assumptions shattered like piñatas, do people continue to make and accept them? Assumptions are built into the foundation of what experts are taught. Maybe it’s not an accident that Einstein wasn’t a PhD who had learned what he was supposed to believe. He saw something new, because he was looking in a different direction from all the experts.
Many health-care experts believe that the best way to resolve mental issues is by trying to change chemical levels in the living brain. That’s what they’ve been taught, that’s what their literature tells them, that’s what their colleagues believe, that’s what they hear at their professional conferences. It’s a deeply embedded assumption.
Because it’s an assumption, no one doubts it. Millions are spent testing new drugs. No one studies what the longer term effects might be on adults—much less on very young children. No one even considers trying to determine the effects of the “cocktails” of psycho-active drugs given to millions today.
In this section we’ll examine 7 key assumptions you probably already accept and see how they may not be any more right than a flat earth. We’re going to offer an alternative “conventional wisdom” that explains the same world in a different way. We’ll let the experts keep staring off in their direction. We’ll see what’s visible if we turn our heads a little by just changing our assumptions.
7 Big Assumptions about brains and training
1. Mental or emotional issues are not NORMAL—they’re a pathology to be diagnosed.
2. Chemical imbalances in your brain result in mental and emotional issues.
3. Decades of scientific literature prove the conventional wisdom assumptions.
4. Brain training rewires or balances or harmonizes the brain via neural plasticity.
5. Brain-training works by Operant Conditioning
6. Brain-training is a potentially dangerous clinical tool for use with mental health problems by mental health professionals
7. Brain-training requires complex, expensive equipment, skills and certification.