Brain

What is Neuroplasticity?

For 400 years, it was believed that the brain was permanently fixed but that is simply not true. Just ask yourself, have your behaviours and thoughts changed from 15 years ago? Most likely, the answer is yes and that is because our experiences play a role in shaping our brains. These shifts are neuroplasticity in action.

To understand what neuroplasticity is, you must first know the meaning of plasticity. Plasticity is derived from the word plastic and plastic is something that can easily be shaped, molded and/or altered. Neuroplasticity uses the same concept as it is the brain’s ability to reorganize and restructure itself by forming new neural connections in response to learning and other events. Neural connections are connections between nerve cells called neurons and as mentioned in our last blog post, the human brain contains about 100 billion neurons. Attached to these neurons are long nerve fibers called axons which transmit information to different neurons, glands and muscles. If an axon is undamaged, it is able to grow new nerve endings to reconnect injured neurons and form new neural pathways.

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller is a licensed School and Clinical Psychologist currently based in Toronto, Ontario, with 31 years of practice experience in two countries. Prior to his time in Canada, he spent the first half of his career in South Africa. Dr. Muller has a Ph.D. with specialization in Psychotherapy from the University of Pretoria, and a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. He also has a second Masters Degree in Practical Theology from the University of Stellenbosch.

Dr. Muller has worked in many settings including school boards, addiction centres, correctional institutions, the military, churches, and private practices. Spending time in these organizations has allowed him to gain an astounding amount of experience in psychological assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan preparation and application.

Dr. Muller also has training and exposure to Neurofeedback Training, Somatic Experiencing, crisis intervention, conflict resolution and managing cultural differences. In his spare time, you can find him hiking, travelling, working on his photography, poetry, and spending time with his family and friends.

What are Brainwaves?

The human brain contains about 100 billion nerve cells called neurons. Neurons are electrically excitable cells that communicate with other cells through connections called synapses. When these neurons are communicating, they form synchronized electrical pulses which produce brainwaves.

Brainwaves are patterns of electrical activity that occur in the brain and different brainwaves have different frequencies (slow, fast, etc). The frequency of a brainwave helps us tell one brainwave pattern apart from another. Brainwave frequencies are measured in Hertz (Hz) which looks at how many cycles of a brainwave pattern occur each second. For example, a 1 Hz wave means there is only one wave occurring each one second, while a 20 Hz wave means there are 20 waves occurring in one second. Therefore, delta waves (0.5-3.5 Hz) are much slower than beta waves (13-38 Hz).

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller is a licensed School and Clinical Psychologist currently based in Toronto, Ontario, with 31 years of practice experience in two countries. Prior to his time in Canada, he spent the first half of his career in South Africa. Dr. Muller has a Ph.D. with specialization in Psychotherapy from the University of Pretoria, and a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. He also has a second Masters Degree in Practical Theology from the University of Stellenbosch.

Dr. Muller has worked in many settings including school boards, addiction centres, correctional institutions, the military, churches, and private practices. Spending time in these organizations has allowed him to gain an astounding amount of experience in psychological assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan preparation and application.

Dr. Muller also has training and exposure to Neurofeedback Training, Somatic Experiencing, crisis intervention, conflict resolution and managing cultural differences. In his spare time, you can find him hiking, travelling, working on his photography, poetry, and spending time with his family and friends.

In Pursuit of Focused Attention

As humans, we all use different types of attention to attend to both internal and external stimuli in our everyday lives. In psychology, attention is used to describe the concentration of awareness on phenomenon to the exclusion of other stimuli. Concentration of awareness can either be automatic or controlled, depending on the type of processing employed to elicit attention.

To better understand how attention actually works, attention has often been compared to a highlighter. In a sea of text, a highlighter is used to make certain portions of text stand out more than the rest of the text. Similarly in a sea of competing stimuli, attention causes us to selectively focus our interest, whilst ignoring competing information and stimuli, on certain specifics in our environment. However, not all attention is the same. Mateer’s Hierarchical Attention Model differentiates between attention, categorizing it as divided, sustained, selective or alternating in nature. Although there are various types of attention, today’s post will concentrate specifically on breaking down one type, namely Focused Attention.

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller is a licensed School and Clinical Psychologist currently based in Toronto, Ontario, with 31 years of practice experience in two countries. Prior to his time in Canada, he spent the first half of his career in South Africa. Dr. Muller has a Ph.D. with specialization in Psychotherapy from the University of Pretoria, and a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. He also has a second Masters Degree in Practical Theology from the University of Stellenbosch.

Dr. Muller has worked in many settings including school boards, addiction centres, correctional institutions, the military, churches, and private practices. Spending time in these organizations has allowed him to gain an astounding amount of experience in psychological assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan preparation and application.

Dr. Muller also has training and exposure to Neurofeedback Training, Somatic Experiencing, crisis intervention, conflict resolution and managing cultural differences. In his spare time, you can find him hiking, travelling, working on his photography, poetry, and spending time with his family and friends.

The Neurological Effects of Marijuana: What You Should Know Before Consuming Cannabis

On October 17th 2018, the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana was officially legalized in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, 42.5% of Canadians ages 15+ have consumed cannabis at least once in their lifetime. So while this is great news for many, it is important to understand what cannabis is and the neurological effects that it may have on you. Marijuana, commonly known as weed and/or pot, is a psychoactive drug derived from cannabis plants. Cannabis can be inhaled through smoke and vapors, ingested through edibles and capsules, sprayed and dissolved under the tongue (sublingual), and topically through bath salts, lotions, and oils. The three main types of cannabis plants include Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. Along with physical differences, the effects of each type of plant varies.

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller is a licensed School and Clinical Psychologist currently based in Toronto, Ontario, with 31 years of practice experience in two countries. Prior to his time in Canada, he spent the first half of his career in South Africa. Dr. Muller has a Ph.D. with specialization in Psychotherapy from the University of Pretoria, and a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. He also has a second Masters Degree in Practical Theology from the University of Stellenbosch.

Dr. Muller has worked in many settings including school boards, addiction centres, correctional institutions, the military, churches, and private practices. Spending time in these organizations has allowed him to gain an astounding amount of experience in psychological assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan preparation and application.

Dr. Muller also has training and exposure to Neurofeedback Training, Somatic Experiencing, crisis intervention, conflict resolution and managing cultural differences. In his spare time, you can find him hiking, travelling, working on his photography, poetry, and spending time with his family and friends.

Mindfulness: Do Mindful People Feel Less Pain?

Have you ever wondered why some people feel pain more intensely than others? Are you one of those people who rarely ever feel pain? Well, researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina have found that mindfulness may be the reason behind this. According to the Canadian Medical Association, mindfulness is described as being able to attend to an experience such as a conversation, a clinical procedure or an administrative activity without being distracted, hurried or reactive in a way that compromises our understanding, decision making, caring and skillful actions. In simpler terms, it means to pay attention to the present moment without having a highly emotional reaction.

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller is a licensed School and Clinical Psychologist currently based in Toronto, Ontario, with 31 years of practice experience in two countries. Prior to his time in Canada, he spent the first half of his career in South Africa. Dr. Muller has a Ph.D. with specialization in Psychotherapy from the University of Pretoria, and a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. He also has a second Masters Degree in Practical Theology from the University of Stellenbosch.

Dr. Muller has worked in many settings including school boards, addiction centres, correctional institutions, the military, churches, and private practices. Spending time in these organizations has allowed him to gain an astounding amount of experience in psychological assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan preparation and application.

Dr. Muller also has training and exposure to Neurofeedback Training, Somatic Experiencing, crisis intervention, conflict resolution and managing cultural differences. In his spare time, you can find him hiking, travelling, working on his photography, poetry, and spending time with his family and friends.

Stimulating the Caudate Nucleus: Why the Glass May Seem Half Empty to You

Have you ever felt like your judgement was being clouded by pessimism? Have you ever wondered why you focus on the downside of a situation rather than the upside? Well, researchers at MIT have recently found that stimulating a region of the brain known as the caudate nucleus, likely has an impact on your mood and the decisions that you make.

The caudate nucleus is located deep in the brain on both the right and left hemispheres. It is known to play a significant role in storing and processing memories but in recent years, it has been connected to emotional decision-making. Previously, a neural circuit was found to affect a type of decision-making known as approach-avoidance conflict. Approach-avoidance conflict is described as an element of stress where a situation/goal may seem appealing and unappealing at the same time. Therefore, there are both positive and negative feelings involved which ultimately becomes a conflict for a person making a decision.

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller

Dr. M. Arnold Muller is a licensed School and Clinical Psychologist currently based in Toronto, Ontario, with 31 years of practice experience in two countries. Prior to his time in Canada, he spent the first half of his career in South Africa. Dr. Muller has a Ph.D. with specialization in Psychotherapy from the University of Pretoria, and a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. He also has a second Masters Degree in Practical Theology from the University of Stellenbosch.

Dr. Muller has worked in many settings including school boards, addiction centres, correctional institutions, the military, churches, and private practices. Spending time in these organizations has allowed him to gain an astounding amount of experience in psychological assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan preparation and application.

Dr. Muller also has training and exposure to Neurofeedback Training, Somatic Experiencing, crisis intervention, conflict resolution and managing cultural differences. In his spare time, you can find him hiking, travelling, working on his photography, poetry, and spending time with his family and friends.

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