At this time of COVID-19 and its subsequent lockdown, it becomes more than important to take care of one's mental health and keep your brain healthy and sharp. This means institutions like Evolve Brain Training became much more relevant than ever before. In a conversation, Dr Upasana Gala, founder and CEO of UAE-based Evolve Brain Training tells FPJ’s Jescilia Karayamparambil about brain fitness and the role of her institution.
What is the growing importance of institutions like yours at this point in time?
Evolve Brain Training helps businesses and individuals — children and adults — to improve their memories, anxiety, depression, stress management, sleep disorders among other problems.
In today’s day and age, the way we are living anxiety levels are high and stress levels are increasing. So, I am trying to work on that with my clients in my centre.
Tell us about the brain-boosting session introduced during the lockdown?
Neurofeedback training is individualised as it is a personalised training programme. We also have a separate programme along with a brain training programme. We match brain training programmes with brain-boosting workshops.
These workshops started during this lockdown period after many of our clients wanted to be mentally sharp. So, I designed this workshop which was done online. It got the attention of corporates. So, I started working with corporate clients as well. This is an hour workshop which is basically exercises focussing on various parts of the brain.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
As the office was shut, clients did not come to the centre. As soon as I opened the centre, many clients came in. However, we saw an increase in our online business. Some portions of the brain training exercise will be permanently online.
Evolve Brain Training today has around 200 clients from over five countries (even though it has only one centre in Dubai).
How different is your programme from meditation and yoga?
It is not at all different. But due to the use of technology and other processes, we are able to produce results faster. Many of our clients after taking our programme have been able to mediate, which was not earlier possible.
What kind of brain training technology do you use?
The brain training technology used by us is called neurofeedback. This means the feedback for the brain. Through this training, we show the brain its own activity in real time and when the brain identifies what it is doing wrong, then it can essentially self correct. Our brain and body have a self-correcting mechanism, but that is possible, only if they know what they are doing wrong. This is exactly where we come in.
We basically hold a mirror to the brain and we tell the brain what it is doing wrong and how it can be fixed. We do this by using electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors to monitor brain activity. This information about your brain activity is transmitted to us by a software.
During these sessions, the video screened on a monitor will differ in sound and size based on the activity of an individual’s brain.
What are these brain training sessions like?
Before the training of the brain starts, we follow a bunch of steps. During our consultations, we take details on an individual’s eating, sleeping and other habits; try to know if there is any past history like stress or anxiety or others, to understand the brain better. Then, we do brain mapping.
We evaluate the data that is gathered from different parts of the brain and compare the data collected from the brains of other people of their age and gender. This allows us to understand if an individual is below, normal or above the threshold.
We use technology to map one’s brain, however, we put a lot of emphasis on the individual’s feedback to understand the issues better.
How many sessions are usually needed to train one’s brain?
Based on the consultation, brain-mapping results, test scores and the symptoms, we create a personalised training programme. Soon after, we start with the first three sessions of neurofeedback. After the tenth session, we repeat brain mapping to see the changes in the brain. We repeat the tests to know if the scores have improved. Instead of brain mapping and tests, we give utmost importance to symptom tracking. Mapping and testing are good quantitative sources of data of the symptoms. Post these tests, we undertake more sessions of neurofeedback. So, it is a total of 20 sessions. However, at times some people opt for more than 30 sessions as well.
These sessions are about breaking the old pattern to create a new pattern. Most of the clients start to witness the changes from fifth or sixth session onwards. If you want the changes to be long lasting, we recommend about 20 sessions.
Do you have any expansion plan in mind?
Evolve Brain Training was planning to expand in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and in India. But due to COVID-19, our plans have been skewed. However, we are still expecting to open three centres by 2021.