Neurofeedback or EEG biofeedback is a safe, 100% non-invasive, drug-free, brain training system that helps the central nervous system make the best use of your brain’s natural resources.
In neurofeedback, a person's brainwaves are monitored on a real time basis and information is provided back to the brain in a manner that exercises and trains the brain. Tiny sensors are used to monitor the brainwaves. The process is totally non-invasive and safe. Much like an electrocardiogram (ECG) test for your heart, the sensors simply record the signals and do not put anything back into the brain. Information presented to the brain is through head phones or speakers using one’s normal hearing mechanism.
First discovered in the 1960's by Dr. Barry Sterman, Professor Emeritus, Neurobiology and Bio-Behavioral Psychiatry (retired), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the current state of training is the result of decades of research and clinical studies and advancements in computing technology. NeurOptimal® itself has been around for about 15 years.
Neurofeedback utilizes the brain’s ability to self-regulate and self-organize, when provided with needed information. NeurOptimal® trains the central nervous system by providing information to the brain on a dynamic real time basis based on your moment to moment activity. The neurofeedback system alerts the brain to any turbulence or instability detected during shifts from one state to another, by a momentary pause in music. The displays of turbulence or instability might be indications of a shift towards an undesired state such as a state of higher stress, a loss of focus or depression as examples.
As the brain starts to move into instability in a particular frequency range and the music pauses very briefly, the brain immediately brings itself "back to the present". Over time, the brain learns to work around instabilities, instead of just falling headlong into them, resulting in increased efficiency, flexibility and resilience. The pause in the music is the feedback provided to the brain that encourages it to “reset” and self-correct.
Because NeurOptimal® works with the central nervous system at the rate and order of change it is comfortable with, training is very safe. The system is non-invasive. Sensors are used to pick up the brain’s electrical signals. Much like an ECG, the sensors simply record the signals. Nothing is put back into the brain. Information presented to the brain is through head phones or speakers and through one’s normal hearing mechanism.
What Happens During A Training Session
What Is Neurofeedback
A NeurOptimal® neurofeedback session is a pleasant experience. Your brain does all the work. No conscious effort is required on your part. Your central nervous system is hard-wired to take in information and use it to organize itself.
Before your first neurofeedback session, you will be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire describing how you are feeling and what you wish to achieve in coming for your training sessions.
You will be seated in a comfortable chair facing a computer screen. Three tiny sensors are attached to your ears and a couple to your scalp using water soluble conductive paste. These sensors pick up the electrical activity of your brain. The system simply reads the signals. Much like a ECG, the system is simply reading the signal. There is nothing invasive about the training session.
You then put on ear phones similar to those that come with your mobile phone. The program is started and you will listen to music specifically composed for the neurofeedback system and watch fractal images on the screen or watch a movie. A fractal is a never ending pattern that repeats itself at different scales. Examples of fractals are plentiful in nature as in corals, clouds and hurricanes. You can choose to close your eyes as well during training. Younger children can view their own DVD’s in order to keep their attention long enough for training to take place.
A baseline may be recorded before the start of the training session. During training, very brief pauses in the music or movie which may sound like scratches will occur. This is the system giving precise feedback to the brain. It is these interruptions that give the brain the vital information it needs to reorganize itself to operate more optimally. The interruptions to the music are the primary feedback to the brain which is why it is fine to close your eyes during training. No conscious intervention on your part is required.
The length of a training session can vary but it usually takes about 33.5 minutes to complete. Another baseline may be recorded at the end of the training session.