Your Brain’s Clock – Timing is Everything - Chi Living

Your Brain’s Clock – Timing is Everything

Posted by Super Admin on Tue Jun 2nd, 2015, 3 comments

Your Brain’s Clock – Timing is Everything

By Dr. Michael Trayford

Every breath you take, every move you make (enter the distinct guitar sounds of The Police’s wildly popular 1983 hit) is controlled by your brain’s innate timing system. Whether physical movements or production of thoughts, your brain’s ability to time these magical feats appropriately is the difference between unnoticed normal everyday functioning and disastrous consequences.

Most can relate to the impact timing has on the way we move. We’ve all seen someone with Parkinson’s disease or brain injury, or simply decline in function with aging, struggle with what most of us take for granted (i.e. walking, tying shoes, speaking, etc.). Our ability to effortlessly time movement is taken for granted… Until that ability is lost.

On the other hand, it might be a bit more difficult for one to consider that the disorganized thoughts of those with schizophrenia or similar conditions has anything to do with timing. This is in fact a growing area of research where disorganized or uncoordinated thoughts are being related to uncoordinated motor activity such as walking and speech. When movements are improved through various types of physical training, individuals experience more efficient thought processing and communication of these thoughts. Through this lens it is quite easy to see how our thoughts, and even emotions, can be impaired by improper mental timing.

Can I improve my brain’s timing?

Musicians, dancers and other athletes would tell you… Absolutely! Simply involving yourself in activities that revolve around a regular beat or rhythm (cadence) will help to strengthen your mental timing ability. The obvious here would include activities such as music and dance (and we’ll add, ChiRunning®).

But what if there are problems with my brain?

Previously mentioned brain injury and Parkinson’s disease would be natural barriers to improving timing in the brain. Studies also show that key physical abilities (bio-markers) such as balance and eye movements are impaired in those experiencing cognitive decline with aging. Challenges in these and other abilities will undoubtedly have an impact on our ability to improve timing. Addressing the physical and metabolic aspects of these conditions would be the logical first step in improving mental timing in any situation. For those with severe impairment, and for those looking to be the best they can be, there are other options.

Can my mental timing be measured and improved?

Fortunately, yes! With sophisticated measurement and training tools such as the Interactive Metronome, those with neurological conditions and peak performers alike can have their brain’s timing measured quite accurately. This particular program utilizes auditory (sound) cues to first measure and then train one’s mental timing capacities. Through matching body movements to a standardized metronome beat, the computer software can determine (down to the millisecond) how accurately one is timing. Numerous aspects of timing can be measured including early and late timing tendencies, left vs. right side of body differences, upper vs. lower body timing differences, consistency in timing from one beat to the next, and much more.

Armed with this information, experienced clinicians such as those at APEX Brain Centers in Asheville, NC can design and deliver specific Brain Training programs to repair the deficient timing issues to the highest degree possible.

What does this all mean for me?

With intact and efficient mental timing our risk of injury due to falling decreases. Thought processing and problem solving become more efficient.  Attention and focus get sharper. Memory formation and retrieval becomes much easier. Certain unwanted behavioral traits improve. Academics and test taking require less effort and produce less anxiety. Our limits of physical performance can skyrocket.

I believe you get the point. There are few aspects of humanism that are not positively impacted by an improvement in our brain’s innate timing abilities. Go exercise that rhythm—your brain will thank you!

3 CommentsLeave a comment below

Would love to see citations to some of the studies on this. Do you have them?

Dr. Michael Trayford Jun 16th, 2015 12:03pm

Hello Dana, and thank you for your inquiry. There is a plethora of research out there with regard to timing in the brain and it’s impact on cognitive, behavioral and physical functions. As this research spans numerous scientific disciplines (biology, mathematics, neuroscience, physics, psychology, etc.), the best starting point would be the science section of the Interactive Metronome website - the quantification tool referenced in this article. This link takes you to both in-house and 3rd party research on mental timing that has been published in a number of accepted, peer-reviewed journals - And, this link will take you to a host of research on mental timing as it relates to specific health care needs/problems. There is hardly an area of brain science that is not looking at this concept at this point in time - Please don’t hesitate to contact me at the email provided with any further questions, and happy reading - this is great stuff!!!

i think you should post more about physical experiments to get more about the study of yours…

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