In the study of neurology, there are many theories and formulas that can be applied in order to better help our understanding of how we as humans experience the world around us. Scientists, researchers and other doctors break them down, analyze them and apply them to different areas of the brain, mostly for academic value. That is extremely valuable, especially for me as a functional neurologist. While helpful for me, this is usually not the case for many of you. One of the most common questions I get is “How can I better understand the way my brain functions so I can feel better?”
There is one principle that applies to the entire brain that is very easy to understand and is indispensable for me when considering my treatments. It is also very simple; input equals output. That’s it. And it really is as simple as it sounds.
Our brains are completely dependent upon the input coming in from all around us to generate its output. Let me give you a simple example of correct input resulting in correct output and then just the opposite. Picture yourself at a restaurant and you are ordering a wonderful organic, grass-fed New York strip steak. When you place your order the waiter asks, “How would you like that done?” You reply, “Medium, please.” You responded appropriately because the input (the waiter’s question) was interpreted by your brain correctly and it quickly formed the correct output (your response to his question). But what if the scenario unfolded as follows; the waiter asks the same question, but you hear, “Would you like a bun?” You might reply, “No thank you,” but of course the waiter would look at you funny because that is not the answer to his question. The problem in the second scenario is that the input was interpreted incorrectly, so your brain had no choice but to formulate incorrect output.
This is a very simple set of circumstances, but in fact, this is happening millions of times per day in our own brains. And input comes from everywhere! Input comes from the outside world in the form of hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell among others. This is called external input. Input is also internally generated. This input comes from within the brain from other circuits that communicate with each other to maintain the high output of the human brain.
Both internally and externally generated input is critical. In functional neurology, we use a combination of these two inputs to change the way the brain fires. First we establish where the problem is. A person might say they have headaches, high blood pressure or depression, all of which could be from aberrant output of the brain. The symptoms are being caused from this aberrant output, but as illustrated earlier, the brain is actually just responding or interpreting the input it is receiving incorrectly. Once we discover the part of the brain that is not working correctly, we recommend specific exercises to retrain the brain.
It is through these corrective exercises that we are able to change the input, which changes the output and reduces the symptoms of many conditions. It is a cutting edge treatment for many conditions and is gaining momentum as research mounts on brain function.