Last week we started a series on holistic treatment of ADHD. We discussed the neurotransmitter imbalances in various regions of the brain typically seen in children and adults with ADHD.

This week we are going to discuss the functions of the brain that are necessary for cognitive and motor behaviors, and what is lacking in those with ADHD.

The Importance of Timing

Although we may not realize it, every aspect of life has to do with timing.

We create schedules based on the hours of the day. Our age is determined by how many years we’ve lived. We feel hungry based on what time of day it is.

All in all, timing is important. And unfortunately, according to a research study published in 2011 in the European Journal of Psychological Assessment, “faulty timing is at the heart of ADHD.” [1]

Humans operate using 3 internal clocks. First is the circadian timing, which defines our 24 hour days. Our sleep-wake cycles revolve around circadian timing. 

Next is interval timing, which is second, minute, and hour timing. As an example, decision making is a behavior that revolves around interval timing because you can take seconds to make a decision, or minutes, or hours. 

Finally there’s millisecond timing, which controls much of our cognitive and motor behaviors, including speech, hearing, movement, reaction, etc.

As you can guess, the internal brain clock which controls millisecond timing works inefficiently in those with ADHD.

According to Lewis & Miall, the brain structures primarily involved in timing are the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and right parietal and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices [2]. If you go back to our blog from last week, we discussed neurotransmitter imbalance in 2 of these areas, the basal ganglia and frontal cortex.

Interactive Metronome (IM), a non-medical treatment for ADHD and other cognitive and motor disorders, which works on enhancing the internal brain clock which controls millisecond response timing.

We’ll discuss how IM works in more detail next week, but I’ll go ahead and give you a quick rundown.

How Interactive Metronome Works

The client wears a set of headphones and begins to hear a steady metronome beat.

The practitioner asks the client to clap his hands to the beat, clapping the hands at the exact time he hears the beat.

The client wears a hand trigger which allows IM to record his timing.

IM then provides real-time, millisecond timing feedback, which informs the client how many milliseconds he is clapping ahead of or behind the beat.

With this feedback, the client is able to make immediate changes to get back on the beat.

Overtime with regular training, the client’s millisecond timing and rhythm drastically improves.

How Does IM Help Those With ADHD?

Improved mental timing translates into improved cognitive and motor behavior due to enhanced neural efficiency.

What is Neural Efficiency?

In order for the brain to communicate with other parts of itself or other parts of the body, neurons, or nerve cells, must communicate by sending messages to each other until the message reaches its destination.

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that allow neurons to communicate with one another.

The junction between two neurons is known as a synapse.

When one neuron is triggered to fire, it releases the neurotransmitters across the synapse, and these neurotransmitters are then diffused into the second neuron.

This process occurs over and over again until the chemical message is delivered.

The process is much more complicated than this, but I wanted to put it in the simplest terms so you could understand.

After a neuron fires, it must recharge itself before it can fire again. This is known as the refractory period.

Neural efficiency describes how quickly a neuron can recharge and fire again. 

Improve Timing to Increase Focus

For everyday cognitive behaviors, such as focus, attention, memory, critical thinking, etc., neurons must consistently fire in order for information to be processed at an efficient rate.

The longer the refractory period is for neurons, the slower they fire which results in slower cognitive processing. 

What’s more interesting is that neurons fire and recharge at the millisecond rate. This is why millisecond timing in the brain is so important.

Precise millisecond feedback provided by Interactive Metronome fine tunes the internal brain clock which controls millisecond timing. As a result, neural efficiency increases which improves cognitive and motor behaviors. [3]

I hope this blog gives you more insight on the ADHD brain and how holistic treatment can help.

If you’d like to set up a consult for Interactive Metronome training, please call us at 678-335-5566.

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