A story in the NY Times reported a Journal of Applied Physiology research article that found weight training in rats changed the brain. The authors stated how modified strength training appeared to promote the creation of new neurons in the memory centers. This is not the first time exercise and/or other lifestyle habits have been shown to affect the brain. Aerobic training, yoga, meditation/spiritual focus, modifying nutritional habits as well as advanced educational accomplishments have all been linked to delay or prevent dementia related diseases.
As an exercise physiologist and lifelong exerciser I have tried to follow such a lifestyle for many years. I have exercised, both aerobically and strength training for the past 40 years. I have tried yoga, and my spiritual focus is important (my wife and I spent 18 months serving a genealogical mission for our church). My diet is good (okay, the weekends could be better), I have never smoked, drank alcohol or self medicated with drugs. I have advanced degrees. Yet inspite of what might be considered a pretty good lifestyle history, I struggled for years with a progressive decline in my emotional and cognitive abilities due to football. It wasn’t until my introduction to near-infrared light that my fortunes dramatically changed.
In my last post I described improvements in the synchronization of the Default Mode Network (DMN) of my brain, the way important areas of the brain communicate and coordinate activity. The DMN has been associated with many cognitive processes and its integrity appears to be crucial for mental health (“Default Mode Network Complexity and Cognitive Decline in Mild Alzheimer’s Disease,” Front Neurosci. 2018; 12: 770.) For example, Alzheimer disease and other psychiatric conditions show disruptions within the regions of the DMN. My pre-test results confirmed poor connectivity in the DMN of my brain, which appeared to relate to poor cognitive and emotional test results (see results post). So, even with positive lifestyle habits for most of my life, I was well on my way to serious dementia related issues, until the “light.”
My test results verified that near infrared light stopped the progression of the disease, and even reversed it as indicated in several cognitive measures. Perhaps my lifestyle lessened the impact of CTE, and/or slowed its progress, but it did not stop it. I believe that my personal habits worked in conjunction with the effects of the light and created a positive synergistic response. The changes I experienced in only 6 weeks of treatment went well beyond what the researchers thought possible.
I have been using the light now for nearly 2 years, except for 8 weeks of non-use for the original study, and the benefits continue. Based on my experience, I would strongly suggest establishing a healthy lifestyle to maximize the positive effects of light. The light is not a drug. It will not medicate or mask your symptoms, whatever they may be. It will not change the negative elements of your life and it certainly will not change things you do not want to change. It appears to reset the brain, creating a foundation of health to build on, and in my case, it occurred quite dramatically. For me, it was the difference.