Note: This piece is week 6 of a 12-week series. I shift between IG TV videos and written editorial. I am the creator of
To read the previous installment of this series, click here.
Dr. Andrew Hill is the wizard behind the curtain.
It never ceases to amaze me how he knows exactly what to do for anyone no matter where he is or what else he’s juggling. Truly, I’m amazed by the seamlessness of the operation at Peak Brain. Even with three locations to manage, Dr. Hill is always available and in constant communication with his staff. And you’d never even guess there’s so much going on behind the scenes because the atmosphere inside Peak Brain is always calm and happiness-inducing! To me, this means that the top is solid.
How does Dr. Hill keep all his patients (with their many different needs and profiles) at the forefront of his mind and know with complete certainty exactly what they need at any given time and why? Seems like he is the prototype of what those of us training with him want to be.
Because every brain is unique, and responds to the training with different degrees of sensitivity, neurofeedback isn’t a perfect science. It requires a unique combination of skill sets and talents to deliver the consistent and powerful results that Peak Brain is famous for achieving with their clients (like me!)
The more thought I put into HOW the heck does he know SO MUCH, the more I’m convinced that he’s dialed into something through focus, mindfulness, and a deep presence. So, how do I get that?!
I asked Dr. Hill a few questions to learn more about his perspective on the brain and why treating it a certain way matters for peak performance in our lives.
What is your very first memory of being interested in the brain?
I have a brother who is about 5 years younger than me, and when he was about 7 years old he suffered a severe TBI from sledding out into the street and being hit by a car. He spent several weeks in a coma, and took some time to recover from that injury. As a kid myself I was struck with how much a difference in function, consciousness, and ability could occur with a relatively small injury to the brain.
What is it so important to you? i/e Why does the brain matter so much and why do you personally want to help people retrain theirs?
Most of why I started Peak Brain is to give people access and agency in taking control of their own brain health and performance. Throughout many years working in many aspects of mental health and human services I was left unimpressed at how we can actually help people move beyond their brain challenges, until I found neurofeedback, and saw it eliminate attention problems, reduce symptoms of injuries and developmental issues, improve sleep and stress management, and unlock resources of sleep and attention that support peak performance
Besides owning, operating, and helping all of your clients at Peak Brain, how many other things are you doing in a day? Can you detail all of your community involvement?
We support many different types of clients at Peak Brain, from kids to elders, and from major brain problems to just helping people continue to optimize their resources. In addition to that I teach courses in Gerontology (aging) at UCLA, including a sequence of courses on healthy aging as well as diseases of aging. I’m also somewhat heavily involved in supporting access to other healthy brain habits and practices; for example we provide free mindfulness training classes in all our main Peak Brain offices (Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, and St. Louis), and I also give free “Brain Health Talks” at these locations each month.
Have you always been able to multitask or is that something you trained your brain to do successfully?
Humans don’t really multitask that well; I find that I don’t do it any better than most people, but I do rely on having summaries of information and lots of automatic procedures in place so I can quickly make a knowledge-based decision without having to spend a lot of time organizing information. For Peak Brain, this has meant building out a business process management application that collects results from clients via daily surveys and overlays that against the training protocols and assessment data.
Also, one factor here is that Peak Brain is set up more like a fitness center than doctor’s office. We rely on the clients to identify what their performance goals are, and to engage with the process reporting on effects and guiding the direction we are working in; we operate more like personal trainers and coaches than clinicians, which lets our clients own the process more themselves; this helps us meet each client’s individual needs.
What do neurofeedback and mindfulness have in common?
Both are brain training. Mindfulness is voluntary anchoring of attention, in a particular way based on the mindfulness technique – that builds executive function and broadly builds other brain resources. Neurofeedback also builds brain resources, but most of the training activity is actually involuntary. I often consider the neurofeedback training like the trainer in the gym helping you develop resources in a targeted way, while mindfulness training is more like the coach on the field, helping you learn to use and integrate those resources.
What’s your meditation practice?
I meditate during a 60-90 minute Ashtanga yoga practice every day. Meditation can be done in any context where you can anchor your attention (to a point, a process, an experience), so the repetitive process of that yoga, which has structured breathing and gaze-direction with each movement provides a great opportunity to combine movement with meditation. On days I don’t do yoga, I typically sit for at least 20 minutes in the morning, comprised of a 5 minute “single point awareness” (Samatha) practice, followed by a 15 minute “present time awareness” (Vipassana) pratice.
What’s the ultimate goal with neurofeedback?
To allow you to understand your brain activity and resources through QEEG Brain Mapping, and then take control of your brain performance, eliminate any bottlenecks, and get your brain performing at its peak, across resources of sleep, attention, stress, and mood regulation, as well as address more significant brain problems including symptoms from TBI and concussion, PTSD, or developmental issues.
To learn more about Neurofeedback click here.
To sign up for our free Mindfulness Classes click here.
To read the next installment of this series, click here.