How can it help me?
Neurofeedback has also proven effective when used for Peak Performance Training, such as developing memory skills, focusing abilities, and increasing concentration.
At a training session, sensors are placed on your head. The sensors pick up information on your brain’s activity at very specific locations. (No electricity enters your brain. The sensors merely read information from the brain and relay it to the Practitioner’s computer.)
You then sit back in a comfortable chair as you watch a computer monitor that displays a computer game, a movie, a bar graph, or simply colors that change as your brainwaves change. The Practitioner monitors your brainwaves and sets training parameters which are based upon information obtained during your comprehensive intake process.
As you watch the computer monitor, your brain receives its feedback via the monitor display. When your brain produces brainwaves favorable for remediation of your problems, the game or the movie will play (or the bar graph will move up or down), and a musical tone may sound. On the other hand, when your brain produces brainwave patterns that contribute to your problems, your computer screen either freezes or goes dark.
This process gives your brain instantaneous feedback about its performance during the training session. On a subconscious level it begins to “work out” what it needs to do to make your computer screen active. It then begins to produce more of the helpful type of brainwave patterns and less of those that are correlated with the symptoms you wish to address. With practice, your brain learns new patterns. Desirable neuronal pathways are strengthened and new pathways may be created.
As your brain learns what it needs to do to make your computer screen active, the Practitioner gradually makes the goals a bit more difficult in order to challenge your brain to do even “better.” This is analogous to weight training workouts: as your muscles become accustomed to one weight, a little more is added until over time you build new muscle. With neurofeedback training, gradually your brain learns how to work at a more optimal level.
The brain is amazingly adaptable. It is capable of making adjustments to improve its own performance if given cues about what to change. When the brain is regulating itself well and is alert and attentive, brainwaves (EEG) show particular patterns. We challenge the brain to maintain this “high-performance” alert and active state. Gradually, after 20 or more training sessions, the brain learns to stay at this high-performance state for longer periods of time and to retain these new skills.
In most instances once the brain has learned how to perform at its optimum level, it stays there and no further sessions are needed. Think about learning to ride a bicycle. Remember how difficult that was? Did you fall? And then, after a while, you didn’t even have to think about balancing anymore? At a subconscious level, your brain was sending messages to your muscles to do what they needed to do to keep you upright. Even if you haven’t ridden a bicycle in years, if you were to get on one today your brain would quickly remember what it is supposed to do to help you remain balanced.
This is what happens through neurofeedback training. We train your brain to work in a way that will help keep you “balanced.” You will not need to concentrate consciously on what you need to do to “stay relaxed” (for example). Your brain will simply function the way it needs to, in order for you to be comfortable.
There are a few instances when we have observed that several “booster” sessions might be needed:
Results from neurofeedback training are seen gradually, over time. Initial progress can be seen within 15 sessions for most conditions . A typical treatment program consists of between 20 and 60 sessions, depending upon the conditions being addressed, with the average being 40 sessions. Current understanding among neurofeedback providers is that it takes a minimum of 20 sessions for learning to be consolidated so the client can maintain the gains that have been made. Sometimes a client will complete 20 sessions, take a year off, and then return to complete training.
When starting neurofeedback training, sessions should be regular and frequent at two (or more) sessions per week. As learning begins to consolidate, the pace can be reduced.
Each session takes approximately 45. The actual training period lasts a maximum of 20 minutes. Additional time is needed beforehand for sensor placement and adjustment. We also speak with our clients briefly before and after each training session to monitor how things are progressing. We reserve 45 minutes for each client to ensure that no one is rushed and that there will be time to discuss the results you are experiencing.
First, we schedule an Initial Consultation with Terry Lusher. During this appointment your symptoms are reviewed, your questions are answered, and a determination is made as to whether you are in fact a good candidate for neurofeedback. If the decision is that neurofeedback training is for you, the next step is to schedule a Quantitative Electroencephalograph (QEEG) as well as a CNC (300 questions sent to your email you will complete on your computer that will give us an initial baseline of where you are right now).
It is not possible to predict with certainty that training will be successful for a particular condition. For common conditions, however, a reasonable prediction of outcomes is usually possible. Fortunately the effectiveness of training can usually be assessed early in the course of training.
For most conditions there are no adverse side effects due to the training when conducted by a competent professional. If an occasional negative reaction to training does occur it tends to wear off quickly, or it can be trained away by the clinician, or both. Interestingly, our clients often note positive side effects. Someone undergoing training to treat migraines, for example, may report improved sleep, concentration, or mood.
When neurofeedback is used for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is called “brain brightening.” Neurofeedback cannot improve the physical degeneration of the brain. What it can do is help the brain access areas of itself that have not yet been affected by the condition, which can slow symptom progression and thereby improve quality of life.
No. Neurofeedback training does not change underlying personality. It may be seen, however, that when some adverse behavior problems are remediated, the intrinsic innate personality will be more in evidence. For example, in the beginning it may be difficult to dissociate irritability, hot-headedness, or cruelty from a child’s personality. After that behavior disappears, it is easy to understand that it was never a part of the child’s intrinsic personality.
We have had success working with children as young as four years old and adults as old as 84. There is no upper age limitation for neurofeedback treatment.
Absolutely. Feedback for those who have vision problems is provided through audio cues.
Perhaps an example will be helpful. A three-year-old boy suffering from Fetal Alcohol Effect was brought in for training by his grandmother. His mother had been drinking throughout her pregnancy with him. The grandmother reported that the child would have fits of rage during which he would bang his head on the floor until he became unconscious. Other symptoms he exhibited included repetitive hand movements, fascination with anything that moved in a circle, and delayed speech.
Training parameters were determined and neurofeedback was begun. The grandmother sat with the boy on her lap, distracting him with toys and books while sensors were placed on his head. A pillow that could vibrate was placed between the grandmother’s lap and the boy’s back, giving him a pleasing sensation each time his brain produced the proper brainwaves.
The first session lasted four minutes before the boy ripped the sensors off his head, ran into an adjoining office, and began banging his head on the floor.
Six minutes into the second session on the very next day, the child again tore off the sensors and began to bang his head.
Session three, on the third day, lasted eight minutes. The boy ripped the sensors off his head, ran into the adjoining office, threw himself down on the floor—but simply lay there. No head banging. A minute went by before he picked himself up, went over to some toys, and began playing. Subsequent sessions averaged 15 minutes. He completed 20 sessions in all. His grandmother reported he never returned to head banging after that third session; his speech and interaction with other family members were greatly improved.
Studies have shown that I.Q. scores generally raise 10 to 20 points after training. This is not because neurofeedback makes people smarter; it simply helps their brains become more efficient and flexible.
We have had success working with clients with brain injuries and those suffering from many types of disabilities. Neurofeedback helps the brain become more efficient so that it works at its best capacity, whatever that capacity might be. If someone’s brain has been injured by a stroke or through surgery, the brain learns to “reroute” signals to create new neuronal pathways.
Neurofeedback works with learning disabilities as well. Brain regions and networks involved with learning (such as word recognition, reading comprehension, expressive language, etc.) can be strengthened, thus improving performance.
Initially, neurofeedback usually supports medication dosages; clients tend to feel better while on their current doses. As training progresses and brain function improves, some clients may actually begin to experience symptoms of over-medication. At this point the client is referred to their physician, who would oversee any medication changes. Many of our clients have reported either that they no longer need their medications or that they are able to reduce the amounts needed after completion of neurofeedback training. However, if the goal is to stop taking medications, you should plan on a larger number of neurofeedback sessions.
There may be a time when we might suggest—with your physician’s approval—that you temporarily not take some types of medication. This generally occurs before we administer an attention/cognition test (so we can get a baseline score) or before a brain map is done. We never suggest that a person stop any medication taken for physical conditions such as heart problems, seizure disorders, or blood pressure, to name only a few. Any changes in your medical regime must be made under your medical doctor’s supervision.
Neurofeedback is not “anti-medication.” We see the two methodologies working together, not against each other. Medication helps support brain function while the brain is learning what it needs to adjust. We tell clients to stay in close contact with their physicians and watch for symptoms of overmedication.
When working with hyperactive children, for example, a parent might report after the tenth session that their child is having trouble sleeping and is irritable (symptoms of stimulant side effects). We would suggest that the child’s doctor be consulted about reducing the child’s medication to see if the problems are remediated; in most cases, this proves to be the solution. As the brain becomes more efficient, it needs less pharmacological help to work optimally.
It was first discovered in the 1960’s that people could control their brainwave patterns. Because the field was in its infancy, research was conducted at very few institutions. Results were published in highly specialized scientific journals with which health care providers were largely unfamiliar. For these reasons the possibilities of this powerful tool have not become well known among physicians or the general public. This is now changing: advances in computer technology have enabled neurofeedback to emerge from the laboratory to become a useful clinical tool in the offices of mental health providers.