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Do you have questions about Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is not a treatment for a particular condition. Instead, it can be seen as a training workout which increases the brain’s resiliency and flexibility. As used at KIPN, neurofeedback relies on the ability of the brain to re-organize itself in response to information it receives about its own functioning.Neurofeedback comes out of neuroscience research which has evolved from seeing the brain as a hard-wired machine with a fixed and permanently-set wiring system to now recognizing the brain as a neuroplastic organ capable of changing its own pathways and structure. The brain is amazingly adaptable, and capable of learning and changing its own neuropathways.Neurofeedback addresses problems of brain dys-regulation which is an underlying cause of many complaints. The brain can learn to make adjustments to improve its own performance. When it learns to self-regulate, its efficiency, health, stability, and performance improve. Neurofeedback training does not require a person to consciously attain a specific mental state. The training happens unconsciously. All that is required of a person is watching a moving picture on the computer screen and listening to music. With the help of the computer the brain is able to process the information that tells it when it is producing effective patterns of self-regulation without a person being aware of what is happening. A client will often report profound feelings of relaxation, of being focused, or of feeling a sense of well-being during the sessions as changes in the brainwave patterns emerge. Over time healthful pattern become firmly established. This way of training is so easy that even young children can benefit from it. To carry forward with this analogy, the more disordered (unskilled) a brain functions, i.e. the more variability (wobble) in its functioning, the less efficiently it behaves. Using ZNC the central nervous system is given comprehensive information in “real time” (moment-to-moment) about its effective behaviour and that information will help the brain to restore its optimal functioning.
Neurofeedback addresses problems of brain dysregulation, which is the underlying cause of many complaints. The primary benefits of neurofeedback reported are:
• quality of sleep • impulsivity
• concentration and focus • physical hyperactivity
• mental and emotional energy
• overall feeling of well-being • mental chatter and mind racing
• mental clarity • nervousness
• ability to process and organize information • stress
• ability to “self-quiet” • fogginess
• capacity to handle stress
While not a medical treatment, neurofeedback has been shown to be a powerful addition to traditional therapies for the symptoms of:
anxiety and panic
chronic stress and immune system disturbances
attention problems and hyperactivity
closed head injury
migraine and tension headache
In one of seven training rooms as patients relax in recliner chairs, technicians fasten electro encephalogram wires from a computer system to various points on a patient’s scalp and ears to ‘capture’ brain wave patterns which are fed to the computer. Patients use earphones to hear their brain waves refracted through music and see them displayed colourfully on screen. When energy associated with certain symptoms of PTSD, the patient hears sounds akin to the needle-skipping sound of static on old fashioned vinyl recordings.
When the patient hears this static, they automatically change their thoughts. It is as if you are driving along on the highway and you drift into the rumble strips and then you automatically correct your lane orientation.
Depending on the type of neurofeedback prescribed, patients can simply watch the colourful patterns on the computer screen, or they can read a magazine or book. There will be music or other sound patterns for the duration of a session.
Sessions last 35 – 55 minutes depending on the type of therapy and protocol prescribed. Before each session and again at six to eight week intervals, patients fill out questionnaires about their emotions, sleep patterns and indicate whether or not certain symptoms are occurring or improving.
Yes. The brain is amazingly adaptable, and capable of learning and changing its neuropathways. It can learn to make adjustments to improve its own performance. When your brain learns to self-regulate appropriately, your health, stability, and performance improve. As you learn to have control over focus, attention, and impulsiveness, you become more skillful and competent in everything you do. With practice your brain learns to make adjustments that profoundly affect your abilities, allowing you to improve your life. Everyone can increase optimum performance through improved concentration, sharpness, and focus for academic, business, creative, or athletic achievement.
The Zengar Neurocare (ZNC) neurofeedback approach is not a treatment for a particular condition. It is training to increase the brain’s resiliency and flexibility. ZNC relies on the inherent capability of the brain to re-organize itself in response to information it receives about its own functioning. ZNC gives the brain “feedback” gently, so that it can stabilize (through self-regulation) while increasing its efficiency. When this re-regulation happens, a variety of unwanted symptoms can disappear.
ZNC is a simple and effective approach that has been described as “similar to an aerobic training for the central nervous system”. For example in riding a bicycle, people who are more adept, the less “wobble” there is in riding. Less skilled riders will lean their bikes to one side and then to another as they peddle, creating a wide wobbling paths with each push of the pedals. If anything unexpected occurs, precarious balance puts riders at risk of falling. On the other hand, experienced riders cut small small paths with very little excess movement from side to side. Riding becomes very efficient. There is a base of stability from which quick changes in direction or speed are possible easily.
To carry forward with this analogy, the more disordered (unskilled) a brain functions, i.e. the more variability (wobble) in its functioning, the less efficiently it behaves. Using ZNC the central nervous system is given comprehensive information in “real time” (moment-to-moment) about its effective behaviour and that information will help the brain to restore its optimal functioning.
ZNC training does not require a person to consciously attain a specific mental state. Training happens unconsciously. All that is required is for a person to watch a moving picture on the computer screen and listen to music. With the computer and without a person being aware of what is happening, the brain is able to process the information telling it when it is producing effective patterns of self-regulation. Clients often report profound feelings of relaxation, of focus, or of feeling a sense of well-being during the sessions as changes in the brainwave patterns emerge. Over time, healthful patterns become firmly established. This way of training is so easy that even young children can benefit from it.
The brain must be able to move quickly and easily between all states, including states of hyper-focus, relaxed focus, excitement, and relaxation. When the brain gets stuck in inefficient patterns of activity, it loses its ability to move easily between its various states, and/or it has difficulty maintaining a particular state when required. The ability to move efficiently between states is termed “flexibility. Its ability to maintain a stable state like ongoing focus is termed “resilience”.
The brain’s ability to “self-regulate” depends entirely on its ability to respond appropriately to both its internal and external environments (stimuli). Well-functioning self-regulation requires that the brain be able to move efficiently between periods of flexible behavior to periods of resilient (stable) behavior. Neurofeedback helps to foster flexibility and resilience in the brain by helping the brain in developing new neural connections, and by encouraging the brain to use the appropriate neural networks that it needs for optimum self-regulation. The information “fed back” to the brain from the computer enables the brain’s many systems to cooperate and coordinate.
Neurofeedback exercises the existing healthy networks in the brain and also helps the brain create new connections as well. In this way the brain improves its ability to self-regulate by using and strengthening its neural networks. With better self-regulation the brain is more able to maintain healthy states and to move more easily between various states. For example, when a person needs to focus, he or she won’t become easily distracted (because the brain is more resilient), but when there is a need to stop thinking and go to sleep, the person can do that easily as well (because the brain is more flexible). The well-functioning brain is both resilient and flexible.
Disorders responding well to neurofeedback training can all be described in terms of the flexibility and resiliency of the brain. For instance, an overly-anxious person is easily aroused and finds it difficult to relax once aroused. Such a person has a brain that has difficulty resisting arousal. This situation shows a lack of resiliency—a brain that is easily aroused in an inappropriate situation is not resilient.
When a person like this is aroused, (upset and anxious), the brain cannot relax. It becomes stuck in a state of arousal. This shows the brain’s lack of flexibility.
A person with anxiety cannot move flexibly between states. Because neurofeedback training promotes resilience and flexibility, persons with anxiety will find that they can confront difficult situations more easily and will not feel an inappropriate state of arousal (they become resilient) If they do become upset, they will be able to calm themselves down without producing symptoms of anxiety (they become flexible). Even if a person cannot stop thinking about something that produces anxiety, neurofeedback training significantly reduces that anxiety.
Migraine headaches can usually be attributed to some triggering event such as a particular food or stress. The brain reacts to the trigger. Neurofeedback training reduces the number and severity of migraine symptoms by promoting resilience and flexibility. Improving resilience reduces the chance that the brain will react. Improving flexibility allows the brain to stop reacting and move back into a balanced state more quickly. Migraine suffers will find that not only are the number of migraine symptoms reduced (increased resiliency), but that when they feel a migraine is about to start, the migraine itself may never occur (increased flexibility).
Just because someone gets eight hours of sleep, doesn’t mean they sleep well. People who have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, people who sleepwalk, have nightmares or night terrors, or who wake up feeling tired may exhibit a variety of symptoms. Many problems that respond well to Neurofeedback training are also associated with sleep disturbances. These include among others: poor attention, hyperactivity, low energy, depression, irritability, and trouble with memory. These symptoms will often resolve themselves when sleep improves. Even clients who think that they are sleeping well when they begin training often report that they are sleeping better after neurofeedback training.
Like the waking state, the sleep state also requires flexibility and resiliency. Flexibility is needed to move from wakefulness to sleep, and it is needed to move between the various stages of sleep. Resiliency is needed to stay asleep, to stay in a sleep stage for as long as required, and prevent over-arousal so that one’s nightmares or night terrors can be avoided.
Neurofeedback is considered safe because it provides information, not stimulation. Electrical brain wave activity is “read” by the software. No electrical or magnetic current is put into the brain or body. It does not push the brain into foreign or unnatural states, which create unbalancing side effects. Instead, it facilitates a CNS learning process.
Generally speaking, there are no unwanted effects that do not resolve as training continues. Most of the time there are none at all but occasionally, especially at the beginning, a person can feel tired or a little foggy for an hour after a session. Sometimes the symptoms that people most want to disappear transiently worsen before they resolve. Experience shows that continued training is all that is needed to push past that stage.
We will be using neurofeedback as part of a process of psychotherapy. In therapy awareness of a person’s current situation will grow and this is an uncomfortable but necessary part. As a person starts to pull out of the places that feel stuck, he or she may become alert to where life does not seem to be working. Although this is typically a positive event, sometimes it is disorienting to the person and destabilizing to their close relationships.
All training effects are continuously monitored and adjusted to make neurofeedback as comfortable and effective as possible.
One More Question?
Do you have more questions for us? Our knowledgeable staff would be happy to answer any questions you may have.