Brain-hacking – Moving Beyond the Brain you were Born With

Genes, Environment &
Brain-based Reframes

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Turning on the light

What happens if you try to turn on a lamp before you plug it in?

Not much, right?

What happens if you try to turn on a lamp that is plugged into a dead outlet?

Still no light.

AND, unless there is a working bulb in the lamp (and the electricity hasn’t been disconnected for some reason), you won’t get light either – no matter how many different outlets you try.

In none of our “no light” examples is anything wrong with the lamp itself — but there is more to getting light into a dark house than simply having a working lamp.

Getting light into dark rooms includes having effective connections to other things that are working correctly — assuming, of course, that the lamp itself has been designed to work correctly and that it was put together the way it was designed.

Lamps, Brains and Bodies

If you think of your body as that lamp, the specs (design specifics) were set by your genes, passed on to you from each of your parents. You spent approximately nine months inside your mother being “put together” according to the specs.

There are a large number of things that have to go exactly right during that process, so even those of us who have disorders and disabilities are truly miracles of nature.

POWER to the People

NOW, if you think of your brain as the light bulb, the electricity might be loosely analogous to the neurotransmitters that facilitate the electro-chemical process of brain communication, to and from a brain cell to any other cell of your body.

Without that that communication
you wouldn’t be able to do anything at all (no light) –
consciously or unconsciously.

But just like getting light from a lamp, unless ALL of the connections are working correctly too, your body-lamp won’t work the way it is supposed to, including the part of it we call the brain.

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

The Lamp that Repairs Itself – neuroplastic  changes

Neuroplasticity: The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.

Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment. ~

According to Wikipedia, “Neuroplasticity has replaced the formerly-held position that the brain is a physiologically static organ, and explores how – and in which ways – the brain changes throughout life.[2] 

Dragging Science into the future

The science field would have you believe that neuroplasticity is a new “discovery” – but the truth is that it has taken decades for the scientific community to get off its confirmation bias and take the research of neuroplasticity pioneers like Bach-y-Rita, Taub and  Merzenich (among others) seriously.

It was tough for those early researchers, initially, even to get their findings published in professional scientific journals.

During most of the 20th century, the consensus among neuroscientists was that brain structure is relatively immutable after a critical period during early childhood. This belief has been challenged by findings revealing that many aspects of the brain remain plastic even into adulthood.[3] ~ Wikipedia

We could be SO much farther along – and many more people could have had more productive lives – had the old guard not been resistant to new ideas (or had the younger scientists been brave enough to speak out en masse and with force).

  • I’d find it easier to justify or overlook if I thought they’d learned their lesson but, even now, both formal and informal resistance to findings outside of “consensus with the body of knowledge of the rest of the field” runs amok.

Scientific arrogance aside

The strides currently being made, with the assistance of technology, are simply incredible – essentially demonstrating conclusively that an adult brain can “rewire” itself, even after years of substandard functioning. (Take a look at the video linked below, and prepare to be amazed.)

Just as important, the acceptance of the reality that the brain can, with “exercise,” actually reorganize its existing pathways and create new ones provides fresh wind beneath tired wings.

Neuroplasticity also provides an explanation for the workings of techniques that do not involve technology (like various talk therapies, mindfulness, affirmations, brain-based coaching and so on) – and underlies the mechanism of habit formation.

Beyond Heredity

quote-Naveen-Jain-neuroplasticity-research-showed-that-the-brain-changes-188480Your genes may provide the blueprint, but your ENVIRONMENT – repeated exposure to positive and negative experiences, substances and thoughts – can change gene expression, essentially changing the specs on the fly.

How else could we explain why everyone with the alcoholism genes, for example, doesn’t become a raging alcoholic?

Some abstain, of course, but others are actually social drinkers who never fall off that particular cliff (so they never have to deal with “falling off the wagon”)

That becomes even an even more important concept where mental health is the issue. The genes may be present for any number of disorders, but not all of them are what is frequently referred to as “turned on.”

The good news is that more than a few of them can actually be “turned off.”

Why learn about neuroplasticity?

Because it only works if you work it.

Those of us with Executive Functioning disorders have usually tried so much neurotypical advice that never did a thing for us that we’re skeptical – and so many of the techniques that actually will work are counter-intuitive (or sound too silly to be useful).

My experience is that, unless you understand the rationale behind some of the techniques I write about, you’ll read about them and never actually try them out.

Reading about crunches won’t do a thing for your abs –
you have to actually CRUNCH!

AND, just like physical exercise, you can’t expect a few measly repetitions to do much for you either.

Do your life a favor and humor me – take the time to watch the video below, just to see for yourself some extreme examples of what’s possible.

Then, come back to and sign up for notifications (top of skinny right sidebar column) so you can learn about what’s possible without advanced technology.

Meanwhile, click a few of the related links below (or on the sidebar) and try out a thing or two.

You’re really NOT stuck hot-wiring your brain with work-arounds –
you can learn how to actually rewire it!

© 2015, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”

BY THE WAY: for a list of items that might need rewiring, CLICK HERE for 84 ways Concussion/TBI can make your life really interesting on the Broken Brain, Brilliant Mind blog — Using the infinite mind to overcome the limits of the brain… Experience-Based Brain Injury (Concussion, TBI, ABI, Stroke) Survival Strategies and Tactics

It is an important list, since these are ALL problems experienced by the collective ADD/EFD crowd – some from birth and others following an accident, stroke, illness, medication side-effect, chemo-brain, age-related cognitive decline, etc.

RE: video immediately below

See comment below from Glen Hogard if you get stuck or get lost in Hulu-land for some reason.
Link takes ME right to it – sorry!

You may have to sign up for a free subscription to HULU to view this - but it will be worth it!

You may have to sign up for a free subscription to HULU to view this – but it will be worth it!


As always, if you want notification of new articles in this Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, do stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series (one-on-one couples or group), click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end (or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page). Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.

For links in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
— and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves —

Related articles right here on
(in case you missed them above or below)

Other supports for this article – on

A Few LinkLists by Category (to articles here on

Other Related Articles ’round the net

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

41 Responses to Brain-hacking – Moving Beyond the Brain you were Born With

  1. Pingback: Read Any Good Books Lately? – The Militant Negro™

  2. Pingback: Read any good books lately? | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. Pingback: Time management tips for better Executive Functioning | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  4. Pingback: Change your Clothes, Change your Brain? | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  5. Pingback: Making friends with CHANGE | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  6. Pingback: Smoking: Additional reasons why it’s SO hard to quit | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  7. Pingback: The Brain Science Podcast turns TEN! | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  8. Pingback: Happy New Year’s Life Upgrades to YOU | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  9. Pingback: Can you hear them NOW? | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  10. Pingback: Overwhelm – Over IT! | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  11. Pingback: The Wisdom of Compensating for Deficits | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  12. Pingback: Brains Need SYSTEMS to Develop | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  13. Pingback: Full Recovery after “No Hope” Concussion | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  14. Steve Richie says:

    A marvelous article…but what is one to do if the nerves have not reconnected with the brain? My nerves are still not receiving correct signals from the brain…I don’t think.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the positive feedback, Steve. I’m not sure how to respond to the rest of it, sorry to say.

      It may well be true that, in your case, the nerves have NOT been reconnected – it seems obvious from your blog that half of your body is certainly not receiving correct signals. (Amazing to me what you are able to do regardless – very inspiring)

      I’m fairly certain I read or heard somewhere that scientists have “recently” found neural stem cells in the spinal cord (undifferentiated cells, capable of “traveling” to become what they’re needed to be) – which would make the spine capable of neuroplastic healing. That holds out hope for further recovery, if/when they can figure out more about the process.

      I suggest that you listen to the most recent Taub interview on the BrainScience Podcast – which may be where I heard about the above. He is the pioneer of constraint induced movement therapy, which has gotten AMAZING recovery from stroke victims (practically complete, in cases where the individuals involved continue working as hard as you do) – and reconnecting nerves is materially involved.

      I’ll come back to add a link to my article on the BSP – from there you can jump to the site and search for Taub there to find the interviews (you can listen on the site, you don’t HAVE to download). There are 2, one recent and one several years earlier – but only the most recent two years (24 podcasts) remain free. She allows listeners to copy to share, however – so let me know if you are interested and I’ll attach the older MP3 to an email.

      I know you do more than most people to continue to recover – and that you have already done a miraculous job there (and in recovering the life that was taken away from you in a number of ways) – so please don’t read this response as patronizing or holding out false hope.

      All I can “advise” otherwise is what you are already doing – keep working on it. And pray. I know from your blog that your faith is a huge part of your life – and this is one of those things that remains in God’s hands. In His time, not ours, right?



  15. wendy says:

    Thank you so much for pointing this out to me. It was very interesting. Seeing the woman with the balance destroyed and then having it restored was amazing. I do wonder if they even tried vestibular therapy with her at all.

    What she had isn’t like vertigo, it is a complete loss of balance…like if you had your balance nerves cut (which I’ve seriously considered since it would stop the vertigo….yes I’d rather live like that than to live with the vertigo…you can train your brain to balance with your eyes, body, and brain..without your balance nerves, I can’t stop the vertigo. At least that isn’t something anyone has shown me yet.

    But I am still searching a bit before I take the final step to cutting the nerves. that’s a huge step. It would make it easier if I had this way to help my brain retrain. Gosh that would really help a lot of people who are disabled with vertigo.

    the series doesn’t have captions. I didn’t have any problems getting to it from the link. It does have a lot of commercials though. Oh, I didn’t have problems reading the lips, and understanding it with my limited hearing…so it was all good.

    I got to her part about Chemo brain and had to stop…I did wonder though if it could help others with “brain fog” from things like Chronic Fatigue, and Fibromyalgia….ect.

    (impressed by how much attention this post got…way to go lady!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • oops – I guess I have become another of those who don’t suffer from the condition, so I don’t really get it.

      Please forgive me – and thanks for educating me. I hope you know I meant only the best (and knew this was new enough stuff you probably had NOT heard about it a bazillion times already). I’m glad you found some value in the video anyway.

      RE: I do wonder if they even tried vestibular therapy with her at all. I think the voice-over said she’d tried EVERYTHING and was told there was nothing else they could do for her – THEN this! (The “wobbler”‘s problems started as meds side effects, horror or horrors! Don’t know if you could pick that up.)

      I still can’t help but wonder if there’s not SOME way to rewire around vertigo? It’s worth checking into their research from time to time, anyway, yes?

      Oh yeah – Hulu loves its commercials (money, money, money, money). Short, thank goodness, but plentiful, unfortunately – and not placed with sensitivity to timing, volume, subject (etc.)

      I wouldn’t mind so much if I only had to see any particular one ONCE each show! But I felt that the upside of this particular video was worth the downsides.



      • wendy says:

        Nothing to forgive!! Many people don’t get vertigo. I do off balance too, but not that bad. and mine is worse sometimes and better other times. I have learned to balance some with my eyes and body and brain…again I’m surprised that she wasn’t sent to vestibular therapy, she should have been able to balance better than that.

        I did get that it was caused by medication…that is horrible!!
        My aunt just has a stroke brought on by medication. meds can cause more harm that good sometimes!!

        like me with pain meds….they really mess me up.
        So, yes I go through all this pain with nothing.
        Why I depend on the Mindfulness so much.
        It does help.

        I’m shocked that I can be that much of an inspiration to someone who doesn’t have things like I have. Of course, I think some people who have what I have get scared they will end up like me. I try to tell them I am a worst case scenario, but it is scary.

        I think you might be interested in this.
        a new thing they found in the brain.

        You can do it honey! You do so much!!
        You have been through so much!
        I often think, if Madelyn could go through the horrors she went through, what am I complaining about. I wasn’t attacked at gun point, and then thrown out of my home….ect… went through H*&& and back. Well so have I… we can admire each other!

        xoxo w

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for sharing that FASCINATING article (by a good science writer previously unknown to me, so double thanks) I also clicked around a few ME/CFS sites, but found nothing new to add information, btw. (Attendant cognitive problems place it in the Alphabet Disorders/EFD membership roster, however)

          The article, for others reading, is about a recent discovery of how the brain gets rid of “waste” products via a previously unknown lymphatic drainage system.

          BTW– re: previously unknown: really?
          or more like neuroplasticity –
          known but rejected unpublished for several decades?
          In ANY case, this new research (2015) bodes well for anyone with autoimmune conditions of any type (since they are thought to be primarily a problem with inflaimation – which always needs a way to leave the body or it wrecks havoc!)

          Thanks for the cheerleading too. I have an appt. tomorrow afternoon to do a meds check and talk about doing a bit more work around some residual PTSD. So it’s especially nice to read today that YOU, at least, understand how very much the cumulative effects of 2014 set me back and kicked me into a very deep hole I’m still climbing out of (slowly!)

          STILL, I wouldn’t trade mine for yours – I think you have it much tougher and are the valiant one — segue to “Mutual Admiration Society” song now 🙂


          PS. Can’t do “downs” — pain meds always depress me to the point of tears — I have to be in A LOT of serious pain to want to take them (and then I want them to knock me out, so I sleep through it all). Simply demonstrates what both of us know all to well: ALL substances have side effects – NONE are panaceas.


  16. Pingback: Turning on the light in “darkened” brains | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  17. Ali B. says:

    On another note, your reply reminded me to send you the new link for the article you linked above. Firing and wiring neurons can now be found at …. …. and the home page can be reached simply by taking out the extensions and stopping at the dot com.

    Hope that works for you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Downloadable ADD-ADHD/EFD Coachablity Index™ | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  19. Pingback: Why you can’t and how you can – Part 1 | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  20. Pingback: Executive Functioning Disorders – not just kid stuff | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  21. Pingback: Anger and Advocacy | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  22. Glen Hogard says:

    For those wanting to watch the video on TV with a streaming device/feature with a HULU subscription, such as a ROKU, TiVo, Google or Apple TV, It might be a challenge.

    I found it by searching for the series (Pure Science Specials) then scrolling through the “episodes” and looking for the blue background. I found it was “season 1, episode 85.” I did not try searching HULU for the episode title, “The Brain That Changes Itself,” which might be possible.

    It was a great episode that inspires hope for changing some of the “I’m stuck like this forever” feeling some may have when an “oops!” keeps repeating. There were some other interesting “brain featuring” episodes for the curious. Good topic, Madelyn!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the “finding it” tips, Glen — as well as for taking the time to comment.

      I’m especially happy for the good feedback on this topic. There’s MORE than enough info for a Series here, but I didn’t want to take the time if nobody but me thought it was worth looking at.

      Amazing documentary, yes? And I agree that the entire Pure Science Specials series is way above average (and an unusually large number of episodes are EXCELLENT).


  23. Reblogged this on Broken Brain – Brilliant Mind and commented:
    Yes – good reading. Everyone should learn about this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, BB – I’m sure you noticed that I linked to a couple of your articles that related (and your blog is pinned on several of my Pinterest boards – linked back to your most excellent TBI resource.)

      More than “retraining,” “rewiring” is sometimes slow going, I know – but possible, right? People used to simply give up, back in the day (and some days I want to as well – as I’m sure you can relate!)
      PS. – the video at the bottom is mind-blowing – hope you can make time to view it. The book (same name) is good too, but nothing beats SEEing the before and after.


  24. Pingback: Science and Sensibility – the illusion of proof | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  25. Ali B. says:

    What a great article! I love the analogy of the lamp.

    Thanks so much for linking my article from The Mindset Effect! So glad that it could be helpful for people. To let you know, The Mindset Effect will soon be moving to a brand new self-hosted website. The name will be the same and I’ll post the new link on the old site to let everyone know when we officially move across. The FB and Twitter accounts will also stay the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank YOU for hopping over to read (and taking the time to leave a comment). Once you’ve relocated, be sure to come back and leave your new web address in the comments. If you leave the link to the article linked here, I’ll edit so it will point to the right place. Glad to hear you are keeping up the good work.
      xx, mgh


      • Ali B. says:

        Thanks so much Madelyn! I’ll definitely drop by with the new link. I appreciate your willingness to update the link to keep it current. I have a number of other posts about some of the brain science, particularly as it relates to our survival mechanism and stress. In November last year I did a series on stress each day and covered a wide range of topics that you may find interestiing. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Woo hoo! re: other related posts – glad I found you. Our community needs to “hang together” or (as Ben Franklin is quoted as saying) “we’ll surely hang separately!”

          btw – any time you see an article of mine that you think relates well to one of yours, leave a working link in the comments and I’ll approve it. Leave as many related links as you like, but keep it to one “live” link per comment or you’ll be autospammed, most likely, and I’ll never see it TO approve it. Meanwhile, I’ll check out your November series. Thanks for the info.


          • Ali B. says:

            Sounds like a plan! We should connect via email. I can send you the temporary link for the new blog, which has better search capabilities for you to find relevant articles for you. And we may be able to collaborate on something that could work for both of us! 🙂

            mindseteffect at optusnet dot com dot au if you’re interested 🙂
            MGH COMMENT: I edited your email to keep the spambots from finding it and INUNDATING you! Any “real person” who needs to email you will be able to figure out how easily and quickly.

            Liked by 1 person

And what do YOU think? I'm interested.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: