WORKING WOMEN

'Neurofeedback' center says it can help improve brain performance

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(WJLA) - It looks like this patient, who suffers from vertigo and what he calls "mental cloudiness," is playing a video game.

In a sense, he is - but he's using only his brain.

Cynde Magritz first discovered neurofeedback when she was a scientist at NASA, where it was used for pilot training. She managed preflight operations for the neurolab mission on the shuttle.

Simply put, she says it's a technique that builds mental "muscle," pinpointing where your brain is performing at its peak and providing reinforcement.

"The beep [is] the sound reinforcement, which is actually working like an electronic coach saying 'good job,'" she explains. "And eventually it's like training wheels for the brain, and the brain learns to do it on its own."

Magritz says she gave it a try after struggling with a head injury as a child. She says the "fog lifted."

"I was so impressed that I decided to do it for other people," she said.  "I wanted to share this with other people who were suffering from the same symptoms."

Now, through her company Peak Neurofitness, Magritz treats everyone from children suffering from concussions to executives who just want to function at a higher level.

"A woman who had not slept more than two or three hours since menopause - which for her was a decade earlier - [who had] giant bags under her eyes slept seven hours the night of her first session," Magritz said excitedly.

And for this former scientist, she says she loves making people happy in a lasting way.

"Once you've done the training long enough that you've consolidated the learning, it's a lasting skill," she explains. :It's like riding a bike - once you've got it, you've got it."

Neurofeedback is controversial, some saying the sessions, at $125 each, are a waste of money, with no proof it works.

To that, Magritz says she was skeptic herself too, until she experienced it.

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