Changes to the Brain

 By: Katie Connell

                For a long time, scientists believed that changes to brain structure only occurred during infancy and childhood. By the time one became an adult, it was thought that brain structure would remain largely permanent and that no more changes could occur. However, in the 1960’s, scientists discovered that changes to the adult brain were indeed possible. One thing that verified this were brain changes that occurred to patient’s brains that were damaged in injuries and accidents. Damage that occurred in certain parts of one’s brain resulted in healthier parts taking over. With this discovery came insight into other ways that the brain could be changed, specifically in the realm of psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a great example of a type of psychotherapy that can lead to long lasting changes to the brain. During a process called synaptic pruning, extra neurons (which transmit information) and synaptic connections (which permit neurons to transmit info) are eliminated to increase the efficiency of neural transmissions. One way this happens is by neurons being used more frequently. Those that aren’t used as much get eliminated, which improves the transmission of information. By repeated exposure and engagement in CBT (including thought shifting techniques and cognitive restructuring), neurons become strengthened, meaning less synapses and better transmission of neurons. Through the use of routine CBT, critical neural networks are able to change how we think and feel.

If you or a person you know is seeking CBT or other forms of therapy, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Please contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. 




Sleep: The Different Stages of Sleep

Sleep: The Different Stages of Sleep

By Crystal Tsui

Have you ever wondered why at certain times of the night you tend to be more alert and other times you dream, unaware of your surroundings? That’s because there are different stages of sleep, more specifically five stages.

  • Stage 1
  • Stage 2
  • Stage 3
  • Stage 4
  • REM (rapid eye movement)

How do we determine what stage is what? Sleep researchers use an electroencephalogram (EEG), is a method used to monitor and record electric cortical brain activity, and other instruments to help determine the stages.

In Stage 1, researchers found that this cycle is the lightest sleep. On the EEG, the frequency is slower than when we are awake. Physically, our muscles relax and our breathing occurs at a regular rate.

In Stage 2, we are less likely to be awakened. Our heart rate and temperature decreases as our body is preparing to go into a deep sleep.

In Stage 3 and 4, we begin our deep sleep. It’s harder to be awakened because at this point our body becomes less responsive to outside stimuli. In these stages, our body starts to restore itself, stimulate growth and development, boosts immune function, and builds energy for the next day.

In REM, dreaming occurs, our eyes quickly jerk in different directions, heart rate and blood pressure increase, and our breathing become fast and shallow. This stage generally lasts up to an hour and begins about 90 mins after you initially fall asleep. This is an important stage because our brain starts to consolidate all the information we have learned during the day into our long-term memory.

In children, one cycle can last up to 50-60 mins and increases to 1-1.5 hours in adults. It is advised:

  • Babies (0 months – 11 months) get 14-18 hours
  • Toddlers (1-5 yrs) get 12-13 hours
  • Children (6-10 yrs) get 8.5- 11 hours
  • Pre-teens and teenagers (11-17) get 8-10 hours
  • Adults (18-65+) get 7-9 hours of sleep

If you or someone you know has trouble sleeping, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit .