Hi all! My name is Alexa Sklar, and I am a rising sophomore from New York City. I am a premed student, and I had the opportunity to intern at the Brain Resource Center in Manhattan this summer.
The Brain Resource Center (BRC) is a unique practice because they combine neuroscience and psychology to treat patients. They treat ADHD, depression, anxiety, brain injuries, insomnia, chronic pain, Alzheimers, eating disorders, PTSD and more. Additionally, the BRC offers peak performance training. Much like exercise for the body, the BRC promotes exercise for the mind. Brain training can improve your mood, energy, memory and critical thinking skills. All of this is done without the use of medicine.
Initially, a patient will come in for a session with the doctor to go over everything they are experiencing. The doctor will then suggest some assessments:
Brain Mapping Assessment: A computer will read brain waves to help the doctor determine what areas of the brain are working well, and what areas need improvement. The brain tells the whole story. For example, anxiety is associated with a certain part of the brain. The brain mapping assessment will pinpoint with extreme accuracy which area of the brain specifically needs attention.
Neuropsych Evaluation. An hour-long assessment that looks at focus, attention span, learning ability, and memory. This is for people who want to improve their memory, attention, sensory-motor skills, verbal fluency, impulsivity and executive functioning.
Once the data has been received, the doctor will create a personalized brain-training program that is specifically tailored to the patient’s brain. During a Neurofeedback brain training session, a patient is watching a movie or listening to music – this is the reward. Stickers containing electrodes will be attached to the part of your head corresponding to the area of your brain they want to improve. The music or movie will pause multiple times throughout the session. For example, in the case of anxiety, this would happen when the anxiety acts up. During the moments of pause, their brain is rewiring and forming new connections to get the movie or music (the reward) to play again. This is teaching the brain how to heal itself. By repeating this action time and time again, the brain is becoming stronger and better at managing whatever symptoms the patient is experiencing. It eventually becomes second-nature.
This summer, I had a lot of responsibilities at the Brain Resource Center. Because I spent nearly every day there, I was trained to set patients up at the computers to start their brain training sessions. I also performed QEEG brain mapping assessments on a few different patients, including one with a brain injury. I also researched the effects of neurofeedback on brain injuries, and one of my articles was posted on the BRC website.
This experience was incredible because as a premed student, I’m getting first-hand experience at what it would be like to be a neuropsychologist, something I otherwise wouldn’t get to experience until medical school. I got to play a role in these patient’s path to recovery by talking to them and answering their questions about Neurofeedback. I learned a lot about patient care and worked all summer with the BRC team to improve the patient experience.
I also worked a lot on the marketing aspect of the Brain Resource Center. I researched helped launch a social media campaign for brain injury awareness week and went to multiple locations around the city to hand out pamphlets for the BRC, which resulted in new clients!
If it weren’t for Skidmore and the donors, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity! I am so grateful to have worked at the Brain Resource Center this summer.