Unleash Your Brain's Power

“The brain is the hardware of the soul. It is the organ of learning, love, thinking and behaving. Like the hardware of a computer, the brain must function at an optimal level in order for us to run the software programs of life (child rearing, education, going through adolescence, training for a career, marriage, navigating mid-life crises, for instance).”

–Dr. Amen

The brain is the most complex organ in the universe. The way your brain functions can literally be the difference between being wired for success and happiness or failure and sadness. Improving and optimizing how your brain functions not only will help you overcome problems such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), heal anxiety and depression, conquer addictions and release anger but it can also help you be more thoughtful, relaxed, creative, passionate, energetic, focused and effective. A healthy brain will reflect on your relationships, business and overall physical health, because the brain is involved in all the decisions you make in each area of your life and more importantly how you interpret reality.

Your brain is involved with everything you do. If you feel that you are not living life to your fullest potential and you have tried “everything” out there with little or no results then there is a huge chance that your brain is not working to its fullest potential. Great news is that is has been scientifically proven that your brain can change and be programmed for success! A healthy, functional, balanced and fully operational brain is the key for interpreting, processing and analyzing the sensory data that we call life. Dr. Amen, brain expert and founder of The Amen Clinics, says that when your brain works right, you work right. When the brain is troubled, you generally experience trouble in your relationships, work, or within yourself.

Take the next scenario as an example: let’s say you have low pre-frontal activity in your brain and high deep limbic system activity (the back part of your brain). This brain imbalance can literally mean the difference from making thoughtful and conscious decisions, being focused and concentrated or constantly being in a fight and flight state, having attention deficit disorder (ADD), being impulsive and re-acting with fear, anxiety and stress. Think about it, your brain controls everything that you do.  If it is imbalanced, then your actions are imbalanced, your thoughts are chaotic, and no matter how many visualization and affirmations you do, you'll never be able to focus long enough to take action and follow through on your goals. 

The pre-frontal cortex (PFC) is the supervising boss or CEO in your brain. When you have low activity in the PFC, it is as if the boss in your head is gone and there is no one supervising your life. This results in the person not being able to plan ahead, has problems following any plan (if there is any) and typically will get distracted multi-tasking all day long between the most exciting, exhilarating and novel activities while avoiding the most important and significant daily tasks that would actually improve their success in life. An example would be someone who chooses to spend most of their time in entertaining activities like watching Netflix or YouTube, playing games, begin on Facebook or Twitter and neglecting the important work that requires to be done around the house or in their business to generate income.

People with low PFC activity cannot focus long enough on one thing to get it done and typically have an entire bookshelf full of self-help audios and books that they never even came close to finishing because they found something else that was more interesting. If you constantly sit down to work and after 15 minutes passed and you stand up to do something else or get distracted with other things then this signals low PFC activity. The reason people get distracted and look for more “interesting” things to do is because they need to activate and stimulate their PFC, which is what these novel things tend to do. Plus people with low PFC activity tend to be impulsive and repeat mistakes. Click here to find out if you have low PFC activity.

On the other hand, people with normal, balanced pre-frontal cortex activity can focus, have forethought, can control their impulses, are organized, are planners and goal setters, are on-time, can follow through, have good judgment, emotional control, great insight and can learn from their mistakes.

The PFC however is only just one part of your brain and there are other certain parts that tend to be responsible for other behaviors and activities like memory, auditory processing, word finding and emotional reactions. For example the anterior cingulate gyrus is involved with cognitive flexibility and shifting attention. People who have a hyper active cingulate gyrus will tent to hyper focus on fears, worries and will tend to hold on to grudges and resentment.

Below are the top brain centers, their functions, their troubles and ways to balance them as explained in Dr. Amen's book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness:

Balancing the Pre-frontal Cortex (PFC)

PFC Functions (supervision)

Focus, forethought, impulse control, organization, planning, goal setting, judgment, empathy, emotional control, insight and learning from mistakes

PFC Problems (lack of supervision)

Short attention span, impulsive, disorganization, procrastination, poor judgment, lack of empathy, fails to give close attention to detail, lack of insight, trouble learning from mistakes, trouble listening, loses things, easily distracted, poor planning skills, lacks clear goals or forward thinking.

Diagnostic Problems Associated with Poor PFC Activity

ADHD, some types of depression, brain trauma, dementia with bad judgment, schizophrenia, antisocial personality, conduct disorders.

Ways to Balance the PFC

Organizational help, coaching, intense aerobic exercise (boosts blood flow), goal setting exercises, relationship counseling, stimulating or exciting activities, higher protein diet, develop a deep sense of personal meaning, neurofeedback.

Stimulating Supplements to boost dopamine to the brain, such as L-tyrosine

Anterior Cingulate Gyrus

ACG Functions

Brain’s gear shifter, cognitive flexibility, cooperation, go from idea to idea, see options, go with the flow.

ACG Problems

Gets stuck on negative thoughts or behaviors, worries, holds grudges, obsessions/compulsions, inflexible (may appear selfish), oppositional/argumentative, upset when things do not go your way, upset when things are out of place, intense dislike for change, tend to say not without thinking.

Diagnostic Problems Associated with Abnormal ACG Activity

Obssesive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), eating disorders, chronic pain (stuck on pain), oppositional defiant disorder, difficualt temperaments (need to have way), Tourette’s syndrome, addictions, some types of PMS, Posttraumatic Stress.

Ways to balance the ACG System

Neurofeedback to calm ACG activity, intense aerobic exercise, relationship counseling, anger management, lower protein/complex carbs diet.

ACBG Supplements to boost serotonin to the brain, such as 5-HTP or St. John Wort

Deep Limbic System (DLS)

DLS Functions

Mood control, charged memories, flight or fight response, modulates motivation, sets emotional tone, appetite/sleep cycles, bonding, sense of smell, libido.

DLS Problems

Depression, sadness, focused on the negative, irritability, low motivation and energy, negativity, blame, guilt, poor sleep and appetite, social disconnection, isolation, low self-esteem, low libido, hopelessness, decreased interest in things that are usually fun, feelings of worthlessness or helplessness, feeling dissatisfied or bored, crying spells.

Diagnostic Problems Associated with Abnormal DLS

Depression, cyclic mood disorders, pain syndromes.

Ways to Balance the DLS

Biofeedback, increase left PFC, intense aerobic exercise, relationshiip counseling, increased protein diet (The Zone), cognitive-behavioral strategies to deal with Automatic Negative Thoughts (The Work by Byron Katie)

DLS Supplements, such as DL phenylalanine, SAMe, L-tyrosine

Basial Ganglia (BG)

BG Functions

Integrates feeling, thoughts and movement, sets body’s idle, smooth movement, modulates motivation, mediates pleasure.

BG Problems

Sets anxiety levels, anxiety/panic, hypervigilance, tremors, muscle tension, conflict avoidance, predicts worst, excessive fear of being judged by others, tendency to freeze in anxiety situations, seems shy or timid, bites fingernails or picks skin, excessive motivation (can’t stop working).

Diagnostic Problems Associated with Abnormal BG Activity

Anxiety disorders, workaholism, movements disorders, physical stress symptoms (headaches, stomach aches)

Ways to Balance the BG:

Body Biofeedback, meditation, relaxation training, relaxing music, assertiveness training, limit caffeine/alcohol.

BG Supplements such as GABA or valerian root

Temporal Lobes (TLs)

TL Functions

Understanding and using language, auditory learning, emotional stability, facilitating long memory, reading, read faces, read social cues, verbal intonation, rhythm, music, visual learning, spiritual experience

TL Problems

Memory problems, auditory and visual processing, learning problems, trouble finding right word, mood instability, anxiety for little or no reason, headaches or abdominal pains that are hard to diagnose, dark/evil/awful or hopeless thoughts, aggression towards self or others, illusions, over focused on religious ideas.

Diagnostic Problems Associated with Poor TL Activity

Head injury, anxiety, amnesia, dissociation, temporal epilepsy, serious depression with dark and suicidal thoughts.

Ways to balance the TLs

Biofeedback to stabilize TL function, relationship counseling, anger management, music therapy, increased protein diet.

For memory problems (options to consider)-

Both physical and mental exercise, omega 3 fatty acids, alpha lipoic acid, Vitamin E and Vitamin C as antioxidants, phosphatidal serine, gingko biloba

TL Supplements such as GABA and valerian root to calm Tls if needed.

Obviously we all have some of the problems mentioned above but when these problems interfere with our state of well-being and constantly cause pain, suffering and chaos in our life then it is likely that we require to optimize and balance our brain. On the other hand some of us are doing “o.k.” yet we want to excel and kick ass in life but no matter what we do, it always seems to deliver little or short lived results, this can also be related to your brain.

There is no one more qualified and with more experience than Dr. Amens and the Amens Clinic. Below are some of his most famous and life changing works:

Magnificent Mind at Any Age

Unleash the Power of the Female Brain

Change Your Brain Change Your Body

The Brain In Love and Intimate Relationships

Healing ADD

Prevent Alzheimer’s

Healing Anxiety and Depression