The Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas is a world-class brain research institute. One major area of focus at the center, home to some of the world’s most innovative neuroscientific thinkers, is aimed at maximizing the cognitive potential and high-performance of military service members returning to civilian life or active duty.
“This research combines brain research and the support of our military, two key areas for my philanthropy,” Pickens says. “I’m excited about the prospects of this work.”
“Since the wars began in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have wanted to apply our novel, evidence-based research protocols to benefit military service members,” said Dr. Sandi Chapman, founder and chief director of the Center for BrainHealth. “These men and women fight courageously for our country, and our goal is to do everything possible to support their success once home or during deployment.”
BrainHealth scientists have developed and tested a cognitive training program called Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART) designed to enhance mental productivity, enhance efficiency, and enrich problem-solving skills. BrainHealth research has shown that complex mental activity enhances cognitive brain health, restores cognitive loss, and builds resilience against decline.
“The SMART program helped me in several ways,” said Josh Lewis, a former Marine Corp Infantryman. “One of the biggest improvements I have seen is my ability to stay focused which allows me to finish tasks faster and develop thoughts more completely. Secondly, I have experienced fewer headaches after taking steps to stop overloading my brain. Before the SMART program, I would have debilitating migraines every six weeks or so. Since I completed the program in January, I haven’t experienced one.”
The second study being conducted at the Center for BrainHealth for returning service members seeks to minimize hyperemotional recall of life-threatening or fearful memories that disrupt post-combat everyday life. The novel study combines repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS), a magnetic coil that alternates polarity resulting in a temporary reduction in the brain’s fear response, reducing it to a tolerable level, and CPT, a method of psychological training that will teach patients how to lessen the emotional response associated with PTS.
“Through CPT, I was shown the limitations, loneliness and potential dangers that the path I was on held,” said former Marine Corp infantryman Mike Rials. “I was guided to give healthy meaning to the traumas I experienced and incorporate the good with the bad. I learned techniques that have allowed me to live in the moment and experience all this world has to offer. I still have a long journey ahead but BrainHealth taught me to see the ‘tall grass’ and gave me the tools to walk in it rather than the beaten path I was on before.”
Life-improving studies at the Center for BrainHealth have followed a unique horizontal approach across all brain conditions. The combination of leading researchers from across the country, outside-the-box research ideas, sophisticated technology, sensitive diagnostic measures, and a dedication to interdisciplinary research makes the Center for BrainHealth a nurturing environment in which to expand a comprehensive and collaborative approach to brain study.
For more information on the Center for BrainHealth or the military initiative, visit www.centerforbrainhealth.org.