An Introduction to Neurofeedback
The brain is an incredibly complex system, otherwise known as the control centre for our entire body. Our subconscious, found within the brain, controls all the other systems in your body. It receives and processes information from your body and the environment and enables you to process and store information and formulate appropriate responses, much of it without your conscious awareness. This is all made possible by a vast and wonderful neural network. This network contributes to our physical and psychological well being. Norman Doidge explains how the brain has the ability to change and enhance its functioning in his book, The Brain That Changes Itself. There are many reasons or causes that can compromise how the brain functions, such as trauma, brain injuries, stress, and anxiety are some of them. With NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback, ineffective and upsetting patterns can be changed to help the brain create a more flexible and resilient mode of functioning, allowing us to use our brains to their fullest.
How does it work?
NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback is a gentle, painless and non invasive method of creating a balance within the central nervous system. When using the Neurofeedback program sensors are placed on the head and ear lobes. This process measures the brain wave information from the scalp and helps a person learn to become relaxed and/or focused by providing real-time information as to how their brain is performing. It is a ‘dance’ between the system and the individual as they ‘auto-dynamically’ create a balance together. Communicating through the use of music and visual stimulation, the subconscious mind is given subtle signals from the NeurOptimal® program. When brain activity shows signs of turbulence, the music within the NeurOptimal®neurofeedback software is momentarily interrupted. This subtle cue alerts your brain that it is operating inefficiently. With repeated training sessions, the brain learns to “reset” itself and function more smoothly. All of this learning is non-invasive and happens outside your conscious awareness. Over time, NeurOptimal® adjusts itself automatically in response to your brain’s activity, individualizing the training microsecond by microsecond to your own brain’s functioning.
Just think of NeurOptimal® as your own private meditation or yoga instructor. Like a human teacher, the neurofeedback machine points out and corrects your form as you train. As you get better, the level of brain training difficulty increases automatically. With practice, your brain fitness (i.e. brain flexibility and resilience) naturally improves and becomes more natural and efficient. As a result of the training, anxiety and reactivity are decreased, sleep is enhanced, and the brain is free to operate in a more relaxed manner in a range of learning environments. Brains that have sustained injuries or traumas can grow new neural pathways around damaged areas, to support healing and enhance performance.
Why should I use neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback training provides a multitude of benefits for the brain and body, including: improved sleep, heightened mental clarity and enhanced cognitive performance. Millions of trainers and clients have used the NeurOptimal® system to address a number of physical, emotional and cognitive complaints with great success. These fall into a few general categories:
1. PHYSICAL, COGNITIVE AND EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES.
Adults, as well as children, have used NeurOptimal® neurofeedback to address the negative effects arising from depression, anxiety, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, autism, sleep disorders, misophonia and other complaints. The FDA has even approved neurofeedback as effective for stress reduction. As of November of 2012, the American Pediatric Academy has endorsed neurofeedback aka EEG biofeedback as a “Level 1/Best Support” treatment for children with ADHD. Furthermore, the APA has equated neurofeedback with medication in terms of efficacy for resolving ADHD.
2. GENERAL WELLNESS
NeurOptimal® neurofeedback encourages an overall positive mental outlook and a deeper understanding of the mind/body connection. For those looking to enhance their daily health and wellness, neurofeedback training can be an excellent supplement to a healthy diet and exercise routine.
3. BRAIN FITNESS/AGE REMEDIATION:
Along with healthy lifestyle choices, NeurOptimal® neurofeedback can be a powerful tool to mediate cognitive decline that naturally occurs as we age. Just as physical exercise benefits the body, NeurOptimal® keeps the brain fit and resilient.
Neurofeedback can help improve memory, recall and increase overall cognitive dexterity in older individuals.
4. PEAK PHYSICAL/MENTAL PERFORMANCE:
A growing number of Olympic and professional athletes now use neurofeedback to provide that critical mental edge which often results in gold medals and championships.When competitors are separated by 100ths of a second, the improved mental focus and physical performance neurofeedback provides can mean the difference between winning and losing. But you don’t have to be a pro athlete to enjoy the benefits of neurofeedback. Looking to improve your golf game? Want to be a better pitcher for your company softball team? NeurOptimal® can help.
5. IMPROVED ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Because neurofeedback training enhances concentration and mental focus, students use NeurOptimal® as a critical tool to improve their performance in school. Unlike so-called “smart drugs” or neuro enhancing pharmaceuticals, NeurOptimal® is 100% drug-free and has no known side effects (apart from improved sleep!).
What happens in a session?
Before your first neurofeedback session begins, your NeurOptimal® trainer may have you fill in a brief questionnaire describing how you are feeling.
Next, the trainer attaches tiny sensors near your scalp and three clips on your ears to pick up delicate electrical activity of your brain. Much like an EKG or ECG, the NeurOptimal® system is simply reading this signal. Nothing invasive is involved with the training process. NeurOptimal® neurofeedback is naturopathic and does not “push” the brain in any particular direction. The system merely cues your central nervous system to do what is naturally best for YOUR brain.