Technology has advanced tremendously in the past decades, which has helped to unlock neuroscience and the secrets of the brain. While routine check-ups are a normal occurrence for other parts of the body, regular brain check-ups are now also becoming possible. In the near future, doctors will assess brain health and treat conditions before they cause problems.
LOOKING AT OUR BRAINS IN A WHOLE NEW LIGHT
While producing the Documentary, I visited Chris Berka, Co-founder at Advanced Brain Monitoring, a company in California that specialises in the newest technology aimed at understanding how our brains function in real-time. Using this technology, her team is able to provide biometric measures that help decode why individuals in teams behave in certain ways.
Up to several brains can be linked up, to provide quantitative, real-time data to help understand social interactions and the metacognitive states of team members. When positive teaming occurs, brains tend to become synchronised across the team members. When a strong, effective leader emerges, other team members will share the brain state of that leader.
This research is exciting because it allows us to understand how a positive leader can enhance the thinking and performance of other team members. When an emergent leader speaks, engagement levels among the other participants increased. We can use this technology to also examine the health of our brains, giving us more options to ensure optimal performance as a leader.
THE LINK BETWEEN NEUROPHYSIOLOGY AND TEAM COMMUNICATION & ENGAGement
In one study conducted by the researchers at Advanced Brain Monitoring, the link between team communication and neurophysiology was examined. When people are working together, patterns regarding cognitive, neural and behavioural effects form. These patterns would not typically develop when people are working on their own.
Cross-level effects are seen when teams interact, and changes occur across cognitive-behavioral levels and neural levels. The scientists found that cross-level effects can be measured, and that these measurements can assess the team’s experience and skill, potentially increasing our understanding of the practical aspects of team training (Gorman, 2015).
Once we understand how our brains function when we operate in a leadership capacity, we can try to understand how to optimise that function. When others are engaged, the dialogue is open for creative, innovative ideas. Brain health is as important as physical health, and now technology can give us a clearer glimpse at what’s going on inside.
Brain health is going to become a critical part of your health profile, and we have more and more tools now to improve your brain health at different stages in your life.
When you visit your doctor now for your yearly check-ups, all sorts of tests may be conducted. We can look at individual organs in great detail, and make sure that there aren’t signs of cancer and other diseases. While we do have some options for brain health, these tests aren’t routinely part of your yearly profile, and as a result, many conditions are slipping through the cracks.
Fortunately, technology will soon give us the option to have the same kind of yearly assessment on our brains. Imagine the possibilities! Instead of waiting for negative symptoms, brain conditions could be treated before you even know it’s a problem. This throws open the door for treatments for neurodegenerative and
ENSURING YOU HAVE A HEALTHY BRAIN TO BE THE BEST LEADER POSSIBLE
Keeping your brain healthy involves many variables, for example getting quality sleep, and enough of it! However, if you truly want to be an effective leader and to keep your brain in great condition, consider these tips:
- Stay in shape - A healthy body is the gateway to a healthy brain. This doesn’t mean you have to suddenly train for a marathon, but walking daily and engaging in cardiovascular exercises will get that blood pumping - to all parts of your body!
- Watch what you eat - Consider cutting out high-fat and highly processed foods. That old saying, ‘you are what you eat’ has some truth to it. Feed your brain nutritious foods to promote proper function.
- Stay social - Cultivating relationships is a good way to keep your brain young. Social activities are good for you. And it’s a big one... put your electronic devices away! Don’t be a Facebook warrior, instead, get out and meet up with people at social events. There are many different websites that can link you up with people who share your interests.
- Go outside - Try and spend more time outdoors. A short hike, a visit to a park, or exploring a little wooded area gives your brain a chance to relax. Stop being so busy with work and the demands of daily life and give yourself a chance to rest and recharge.
- Get enough sleep - It’s not just quantity that matters, it’s quality. If you aren’t sleeping well, consider speaking with your doctor. There are assessments and treatments available that can get your brain rested and back on track.
Brain health is crucial for a happy, successful life. As a leader, your brain is your biggest supporter. If your brain isn’t functioning at its peak, you can’t be a truly effective leader. You also won’t be the best partner, parent, friend, or coworker if your brain is sluggish. The possibilities are endless with a healthy brain and mind.
Gorman, J., Martin, M., Dunbar, T., Stevens, R.H., Galloway, T.L., Amazeen, P., Likens, A. (2015) Cross-Level Effects Between Neurophysiology and Communication During Team Training. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 181-199. doi:10.1177/0018720815602575