Dr. Leaf

Dr. Caroline Leaf is an audiologist and clinical neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology from the University of Pretoria and a BSc in Logopedics and Audiology from the University of Cape Town, specializing in metacognitive and cognitive neuropsychology. Since the early 1980's she has studied and researched the Mind-Brain connection and did some of the initial research back in the late 80s showing the neuroplasticity of the brain. [1] During her years in clinical practice and her work with thousands of underprivileged teachers and students in South Africa and the USA as a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist, she developed an original theory of the science of thought, as well tools and processes based on this research. This real-world neuroscience research Dr Leaf did back then, and which is becoming popular now as a research tool, helps people develop and change their thinking and subsequent behavior. Her science of thought techniques have transformed the lives of patients with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), learning disabilities (ADD, ADHD), autism, the dementias, emotional traumas and mental health issues and has shown thousands of students of all ages, and adults and corporations how to use their minds to detox and develop their brains.

She has presented her unique Switch on Your Brain with the 5-Step Learning Process® and the Metacognitive-Map™ learning tool to thousands of students and corporations worldwide. She developed the Geodesic Learning™ theory and the metacognitive-mapping approach (how we think and process information), which has been shown to increase thinking, behavioral and academic performance by 35-75%. This revolutionary theory has contributed to how we understand the science of thought, explaining how thoughts form, how we process information, the power of the non-conscious mind and the relationship between the non-conscious and conscious. The theory proposes that everything you say and do is first a physical thought in the physical brain, a thought which you built with your mind. You think, and then you do, which cycles back to the original thought, changing it, and the thoughts connected to it, in a dynamic interrelationship. 

Dr. Leaf has published a number of articles in academic journals and consumer magazines, and has been widely interviewed in newspapers, on radio and on television shows about her research and theories. 

Her passion is to help people see the power of the mind and teach them how to control their thoughts and emotions, and learn how to think and find their sense of purpose in life.

She frequently lectures to audiences worldwide, linking scientific principles of the brain to spiritual, intellectual and emotional issues in simple and practical ways. She speaks on diverse topics relating to how the mind controls the brain through optimal thinking, and hence improved brain performance. These topics include:

1. Thinking and learning

2. Controlling your thought life through mind management 

3. Managing toxic stress

4. Managing toxic thoughts and trauma through the 5-step Neurocycle process

5. Overcoming mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges 

6. Identifying your unique way of thinking through the UQ profile

[1] Leaf, Uys, and Louw. “Mind-Mapping approach (MMA)”; Leaf, Uys, and Louw. “The development of a model for geodesic learning"; Dr Caroline Leaf. “The Switch on Your Brain 5-Step Learning Process-Classroom Results.” Retrieved from http://drleaf.com/download-dispatch/?fn=/Web-page-AA-research-project-3.pdf; Dr. Caroline Leaf. “Curriculum Vitae.” Dr. Leaf. Retrieved from http://drleaf.com/assets/files/DrCarolineLeaf_CurriculumVitae1.pdf; Dr. Caroline Leaf. “Ridiculous.” TEDx. March 16, 2015. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/yjhANyrKpv8.


University of Cape Town South Africa Degree of Bachelor of Science (Logopaedics) - December 1985

University of Pretoria South Africa Masters in Communication Pathology with distinction/cum laude - June 1990

University of Pretoria South Africa Doctor Philosophiae with specialization in Communication Pathology With distinction/cum laude and academic honors - May 1997

For more information on Dr. Leaf's experience, also see her LinkedIn page.

Dr. Caroline Leaf’s career as an applied neuroscientist spans clinical, education, field research, and government contract experience. After attaining her foundational education in the neuroscience of communication pathology, Dr. Leaf operationalized her knowledge of neuropsychology in decades of government contracts with South African departments of education and clinical patient work. In this work, Dr. Leaf trained educators and therapists on classroom-based intervention for learning and mental health management that impacted the lives of thousands of students and teachers. During this time, Dr. Leaf began developing her Neurocycle™ and Metacog system for mind management. She proceeded to vet this system throughout her 20 years of clinical experience as a mental health and communication therapist, working with a highly neurodiverse population including patients with learning disabilities, autism, TBI, CTE, PTSD, dementia, and stroke. The desire to share her immense success from her private practice more widely, Dr. Leaf authored over 18 books in 22 languages and developed the Leaf Mind Management (LMM) scale, a validated psychometric tool, to measure the significant results that the Neurocycle™ is able to facilitate for users. Additionally, Dr. Leaf partnered with a clinical team of neurologists and neuroscience practitioners to further review the efficacy of her work using blood measure testing and QEEG assessment, both of which have revealed statistically significant mental health improvement for Neurocycle™ users. Throughout this time, Dr. Leaf has been invited to present her work at hundreds of corporate and academic institutions, including Fortune 500 companies and the highest ranked universities in Africa. Currently, after these 30+ years of clinical and applied neuroscience research practice, Dr. Leaf is focused on sharing her findings in academic publications, including upcoming peer-reviewed articles on the benefits of the Neurocycle as shown by clinical research using blood measures and QEEG tests, psychometric validation of her Leaf Mind Management (LMM) scale as a mindfulness measurement tool, studies in partnership with US school districts confirming the Neurocycle’s™ utility as a mind management intervention and learning support tool for teachers and students, and a longitudinal study of thousands of Neurocycle™ app users’ mental health improvement using the Neurocycle program.

Dr. Leaf's research started 38 years ago with her master’s thesis and her PhD dissertation work. From her graduate work, she moved to applied clinical work in the field with educators, students, government organizations, and patients in South Africa. Dr. Leaf’s passion for improving mental health and learning led her to focus her early career in clinical and community settings to get her program to as many people as possible. Much of this work is highlighted in her books and we are currently in development of a historical timeline outlining these applied projects and their results to showcase Dr. Leaf’s historical research on the website. Be on the lookout for an email announcing it later this summer!

In addition, over the last five years she has partnered with Elite Research, LLC (a research and statistical consulting firm) to support additional scientific research and publications of the Neurocycle program.  They have completed an instrument validation and an RCT pilot longitudinal study to assess the program’s impact on brain mapping with QEEG, blood measures, and psycho-social measures.  While they have been delayed in publishing due to COVID, they have two of these publications under review with more on the way. In addition, they are currently in data collection of a longitudinal national study of the Neurocycle program users, and planning some upcoming work with teachers, parents and children, all of which they will publish in peer-reviewed journals as soon as they are complete. 

While Dr. Leaf's team is not allowed publish their research findings ahead of the peer reviewed journal article, here is some information on their current research. Data is analyzed by an independent research and analysis consulting firm, Elite Research, LLC (www.eliteresearch.com).

National Study of NeurocycleTM Users:

The national study of NeurocycleTM app users is a longitudinal multi-year study aimed to assess the impact of the NeurocycleTM program on pro-mindfulness factors – including resilience, gratitude, autonomy, hope, confidence, and the behavior to think, feel, and choose positive mental perspectives – by measuring changes in the Leaf Mind Management (LMM) Scales (autonomy, awareness, toxic thoughts and isolation, toxic stress and anxiety, barriers and challenges, empowerment and life satisfaction) among U.S. adults ages 18 to 80 who use the NeurocycleTM app program.

The study will provide a detailed picture of changes in mindfulness, mind management skills, and mental-health-related issues in adult populations. The data will be used to identify needs and priorities, benchmark against various population characteristics, evaluate programs and policies, plan for services and programs, and advocate for resources. Data collection happens within the app every 21 days for the 20 LMM items and the 8 pro-mindfulness factors as well as a web-based survey (psychdata.com) for user demographics, treatment history, and program experience. Users are invited and reminded to participate in the survey via emails. The data collection protocol begins with an email invitation, and non-responders are contacted up to three times by email reminders spaced by 5-7 days each. Reminders are only sent to those who have not yet completed the survey. Each communication contains a URL that participants use to gain access to the survey.

Quantitative Electroencephalography (QEEG) Assessment of the NeurocycleTM

Globally, mental health concerns are growing. The World Health Organization (2022) has reported that there was a 13% rise in mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders from 2007 to 2017. Despite this, current pharmacological treatments do not offer lasting treatment or resolution for these disorders (Turner, 2021) and much more neuroscientific research is needed to inform clinical practice and the treatment of mental illness (Ivanov & Schwartz, 2021). Over the past few decades, many studies have contributed to utilizing electroencephalography (EEG) measurements to assess mental health through correlations between historically pre-defined frequency bands in the power spectrum –alpha, beta, delta, theta, and gamma – and specific mental health conditions (Newson & Thiagarajan, 2019). For instance, low gamma waves and high beta waves can be associated with ADHD and anxiety, respectively, while higher theta and alpha waves can reduce generalized anxiety disorder (Dadashi et al., 2015). However, a lack of standardization across the field and the association of a single frequency with multiple mental health conditions has necessitated more research into the measurement and meaning of each frequency at various levels (Newson & Thiagarajan, 2019). Specifically, Newson and Thiagarajan (2019) call for researchers to contribute to the creation of a large QEEG database of data that might be assessed altogether.

The current research study seeks to answer this call. QEEG measurements of 11 NeurocycleTM participants were performed before using the NeurocycleTM, after the first 21 days, and after the final 63 days to assess mental health improvements. In treatment vs. control comparisons, participants significantly improved on performance of all five brain waves’, supporting a likely decrease in anxiety and stress, as well as an increase in relaxation, learning, and autonomy. This was confirmed in the psychosocial assessments conducted alongside the QEEG tests, which revealed a corresponding improvement in decreased toxic thoughts, isolation, and overall LMM score as well as increased autonomy, awareness, empowerment, life satisfaction, and ability to manage life obstacles. These results strengthen existing research that has established the same relationships. These findings show that the NeurocycleTM has an impact on mental health from a whole-brain perspective. Continued research will increase the number of participants to assess continuance of the correlations amongst a larger sample.

Teacher Mindfulness Training using the NeurocycleTM

Key findings from the 2021 State of the U.S. Teacher Survey (Steiner & Woo, 2021) have revealed that job-related stresses, which have been amplified with COVID-19 measures, are critically threatening the teacher supply. While there are many kinds of therapies and treatments designed to support educators, mindfulness has shown specific efficacy for teachers, students, and educational settings due to its ease of implementation and near immediate positive impacts. However, leading mindfulness researchers have called for an instructional tool that not only teaches mindfulness practices, but also covers and assesses mindfulness’ necessary counterparts: self-regulation and self-management and emotional, cognitive, and behavioral flexibility (resilience). The current research presents a live, six-session training program that answers this call, teaching teachers how to increase their autonomy, awareness, and empowerment/life satisfaction while lowering their toxic thoughts, stress, and perceived barriers and challenges via mindfulness training and practice. Teachers were provided with webinars covering the rationale behind and 5-step process of the NeurocycleTM, a tool for mental health detoxing and management. Their mindfulness development and mental health were assessed by the Leaf Mind Management (LMM) scale before and after the program. Results revealed statistically increased levels of awareness, autonomy, and empowerment and significantly decreased toxic mental health factors. Participants’ feedback revealed that the program made it easy to apply their learning in their work and school lives, and that they desired further future mindfulness trainings via this program structure. These results show the promise of the NeurocycleTM as a stress management and instructional efficacy support tool for educators that also provides a medium for measuring results and maintenance.

Leaf Mind Management (LMM) Scale Validation

A critical step for improving mental health is developing non-pharmacological therapies that can treat anxiety and depression effectively without reliance on pharmacological treatments and the accompanying risks for side effects and interactions. To facilitate non-pharmacological therapy for mental health, individuals require specific knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that promote self-regulation skills and increased awareness, processing, reconceptualization, and control of reactions and responses to the circumstances of life that cause feelings of anxiety and depression. Answering Shapiro et al.’s (2006) seminal call for a measurement that assesses not only mindfulness but also its necessary mediators – self-regulation, resilience, reconceptualization, and exposure – the Leaf Mind Management Tool was created. The researchers conducted face and content validity assessments to ensure a strong initial approach to question selection. A final set of 71 items was selected for the initial questionnaire, and exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) found 20 items nested within six factors that explained 71.9% of the overall variance. Each of the six factors represents a set of knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors related to self-regulation and control. Study 1’s findings suggested that these 20 questions forming the Leaf Mind Management (LMM) survey tool have both structural validity and consistent reliability across both samples. Implementing the LMM through the NeurocycleTM app, the findings of Study 2 found that test-retest reliability for all six LMM subscales was strong and that construct validity existed with established anxiety, depression, and well-being measures. Construct validity with blood measures also revealed significant relationships between the toxic stress and anxiety subscale and homocysteine levels and DHEA/cortisol ratios.


The information offered in Dr Leafs books and materials are intended to serve as guidelines for managing toxic thoughts, emotions and bodies and not as a replacement for professional medical advice. Please discuss specific symptoms and medical conditions with your doctor. Any use of this information is at the user’s discretion. Switch on Your Brain LLC and the author make no representations or warranties that any individual will achieve a particular result. Any and all express or implied warranties, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, are disclaimed. Switch on your brain LLC and the author specifically disclaim any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use or application of any information contained in these materials. 

Dr. Leaf is not a medical doctor, and nothing on this page should be seen as individual medical advice. She is a researcher and cognitive (mind) scientist, and this page is meant to be informational and encouraging in a general sense, and is based off Dr. Leaf's self-help products (see store.drleaf.com). 

If you are considering withdrawing from any medication, please do so under the guidance of a professional as withdrawal can be a dangerous process. 

If you have a medical matter or emergency, please contact a local medical professional immediately. 

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