Archive for neurofeedback

Biofeedback Training to Improve Health

Biofeedback is a method for treating people to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies. Therapists and psychologists use biofeedback to help tense and anxious clients learn to relax and to help their patients cope with pain.

There is a good chance you have already used a form of biofeedback. For instance, ever gone outside to walk the dog on a cold and blustery day? Your body told you it was cold, prompting you to wear a jacket. How about when you stand on a scale and it shows you gained weight? Time to consider doing a little cutting back. And at sometime in our life we have had our temperature taken, thinking perhaps we are exhibiting signs of illness. If you were running a temperature higher than 98.6, then would be a good time to rest and drink liquids, and of course, contact your physician. Clinician?s machines can find a person’s internal bodily functions with much greater sensitivity and precision than in the past. The results of each biofeedback session are valuable for both the patient and the therapist, as the information can be applied to gauge and direct the next treatment session.

Biofeedback training can be demanding on patients. Patients need to review their daily routine to learn if they are contributing to their own negative feelings. Patients need also personally commit to practicing biofeedback training awareness or relaxation exercises every day. They must change their routine, their day-to-day lifestyle, and accept much of the responsibility for maintaining their own health.

Brainwaves are the electrical wave patterns generated in every person’s brain. These waves vary according to level of consciousness, sub-consciousness and unconsciousness and are characterized by four distinct types of brainwaves. Each of these electrical wave patterns has distinctly different ways of perceiving, processing, learning and knowing information. All of these brain waves are produced at all times. However, a predominance of a specific desired brainwave state can be created at will, which allows a person to potentialize his or her capabilities towards achieving human excellence. 

For a better understanding of what brain waves are and how those are utilized in biofeedback sessions, brainwave frequencies are described in terms of hertz (Hz), or cycles per second, which are measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG). The four general categories of brainwave frequencies and their main characteristics are:

Gamma brainwave frequencies are a high frequency pattern beginning at thirty-five hertz. There has been some evidence that gamma frequencies are associated with states of peak performance. Most light and sound instruments have the capability to generate gamma frequencies. While in this brainwave state, sensations are centered on being mentally, emotionally and physically “charged” or extremely energized. These frequencies are the highest known brainwave patterns, but are considered by some researchers to be part of the beta frequency category.

Beta brainwaves are the next highest frequency pattern, ranging from thirteen to thirty-four hertz, and can be separated into three sub-categories. The first is high beta, ranging from nineteen to thirty-four hertz. When high beta is the dominant brainwave state, anxiety and stress are most likely to occur. The second sub-category is mid beta, with frequencies ranging from fifteen to eighteen hertz. Mid beta is characterized by action, with focus on external surroundings. The third is SMR beta (Sensorimotor Rhythm), ranging from thirteen to fifteen hertz. While in this state, focus is also on external surroundings, but the individual is more relaxed than in mid beta. Within SMR is fourteen hertz, which is gaining attention from researchers and clinicians utilizing EEG / neurofeedback instrumentation. The true benefit of creating fourteen hertz in humans has yet to be determined, but a recent study at the University of California at Los Angeles found that felines could produce fourteen hertz at will, while humans cannot.

Generally speaking, beta brainwaves are characterized by logical, analytical and intellectual thinking, verbal communication and awareness of surroundings.

 Alpha brainwaves are a frequency pattern ranging from eight to twelve hertz. They most commonly occur when we are calm and relaxed, yet mentally alert. These brainwaves are also present during daydreaming.

Theta brainwaves range from four to seven hertz, characterized by being deeply relaxed and inwardly focused. This brainwave state is also associated with rapid learning and the assimilation of new information with high retention, heightened motivation to activate goals, bursts of creativity, insight and new behavior patterns.

 Delta brainwaves range from five-tenths to three hertz and are associated with being extremely relaxed, characterized by sleep.

Researchers have proven that brainwave frequencies determine what brainwave state is being experienced at any given time. By measuring the production of brainwaves through the utilization of EEG (electroencephalogram) equipment, the frequencies that produce these various brain states can be tracked on a computer monitor. As mentioned earlier, these frequencies are generated in every person’s brain, and are the result of outside stimulation that has been passed to the brain via electrical signals from our different senses. Light and sound instruments stimulate the neural activity of our vision and hearing, and can safely guide our minds to produce specific frequencies that are associated with the four general brainwave categories.

There is absolutely nothing wrong about going to see your physician or therapist for alleviating anxieties, modifying behavior and a myriad of other symptoms biofeedback has proven effective in treating. The drawbacks are the time it takes to adequately overcome your unwanted symptoms, the amount of practice necessary to progress, the need for scheduling multiple appointments and the cost of each visit.

Choosing biofeed-in mindmachines that can target the same frequencies as a biofeedback monitor, in far less time thereby speeding the progress of the individual, done personally in the comfort of your home rather that scheduling appointments elsewhere, and the obvious savings on money (you can buy a light and sound biofeed-in mindmachine for less than visiting a biofeedback specialist for several sessions), gives you a beneficial and cost-effective alternative.

Remember: Excelling in biofeedback takes time and is dependent upon the patient to access the desired brainwave frequency at will, with no outside help. Biofeed-in is just the opposite. Biofeed-in gently leads you to the targeted brainwave frequency state, without any conscious effort on your part.

? you do not need to schedule an appointment, pay a therapist, or rush to make your appointment on time. So keep it simple, use a biofeed-in mindmachine, when you desire, and you too will realize the advantage of owning your own mind machine far outweighs the hassles of practicing biofeedback sessions with the accompaniment of a well-paid clinician.

EEG Neurofeedback or Mind Machines – Which is Right for You?

EEG Neurofeedback

EEG Neurofeedback is the voluntary regulation of brain wave activity. It is a learned response, with applications including the modulation of arousal levels, regulating your sleep/wake cycles, dealing with cognitive processes, processing sensory information, correcting inappropriate motor responses, controlling moods and emotions and helping deal with memory issues.

EEG Neurofeedback

EEG Neurofeedback

Here are two main applications within the EEG neurofeedback discipline: the first is Alpha and Theta training, which centers on relaxation and improved creativity. New research also indicates these EEG protocols can deal with overcoming the effects of alcoholism. The second application deals with Sensorimotor Rhythm (SMR) and Beta training. These protocols are generally aimed at improving mental functioning and the remediation of manifest deficits, such as for symptoms of epileptic and ADHD behaviors.

Those 2 paragraphs were my initial introduction to what EEG neurofeedback could accomplish. That was back in 1992. Since then a plethora of information has been published that gives credence to the successes of applying EEG neurofeedback in a multitude of ways (refer to issues of the AVS Journal).

But allow me to backtrack a bit.

I must give credit to Drs. Siegfried Othmer and Jerry Cunningham for making me aware of EEG technology and allowing me to learn about utilizing their equipment. Yes that was quite a few years ago, but their generosity sparked my interest in this young, yet exciting new field. Truth be told, I felt like a lab animal for those first 3 ten-hour days of instruction, as I soon realized when they uttered the words ?I wonder if?? meant I was the target of their thoughts. Thankfully, those two pioneers in this field were medical professionals and used protocols that when connected to the EEG neurofeedback system, made me feel more like a little kid at an amusement park, I could feel/sense my mental, emotional and physical states reacting in a different, more positive way.

Given time, I actually felt like I was contributing to their conversations rather than being the one person always hooked up to their EEG system ?to see what happens?. Either way I didn?t really care. On the one hand I was listening to 2 very respected professionals and on the other was able to experience sensations I?d never realized was possible.

One day we were comparing EEG protocols when the topic of adding adjunctive modalities into EEG neurofeedback sessions came up, with the goal of helping their clients achieve more quickly the targeted brainwave frequency of a session, theoretically enabling the client to proceed in their progress faster than normally believed.

This led to incorporating EEG Spectrum?s EEG Neurofeedback System with light and sound mindmachines, sound-only generators, an audio/visual mixer and the Symmetron motion platform (complete with 7-degree front/back pitch, 360-degree orbital movement and two transducers beneath the mattress for binaural beat tactile stimulation.

Once everything was connected, we were ready to do some serious brainwave research, or in my case, observing how we could enhance the effectiveness of EEG Neurofeedback sessions. One element was missing. For Alpha ? Training, closed-eye lightframes worked wonders. But a different type of lightframe was needed for SMR training. The solution was developing an open-eye style lightframe. I credit Jeff Labno for coming up with that idea. The result? EEG Neurofeedback became an all-encompass method for positive brain wave training. The proof was seeing the therapist?s monitor: increased entrainment ability emanating from the readout of the client?s brainwaves.

One hurdle remained, however. For prolonged EEG neurofeedback sessions, a different form of audio stimulus was needed. The mind is capable of foretelling what frequencies are going to be coming, which could lead to a loss of interest and decrease the effects of entrainment. Sine waves: boring. Binaural beats: decent but limited in design. Dual independent binaural beats: perfect. The human mind needs more than a single tone to remain entrained for a prolonged period of time. Binaural beats work, but are limited in designing entraining frequencies. Dual independent binaural beats are quite different. By using 4 distinct frequencies in a variety of ways, the mind maintains prolonged interest, with the effect of remaining entrained by the stimulation and thereby receiving a greater quality session. The result? You progress with your training faster.

EEG Neurofeedback is an excellent modality for treating symptoms sans pharmaceutical medications, and more. And there are highly qualified medical professionals that are making great strides in this field. Drs. Tom Collura and Rayma Ditson-Sommer to name two. Not to be different or aggravate professionals that I have the utmost respect for, but I have found implementing EEG Neurofeedback in a different way better suits my approach.

After performing several hundred hours of EEG Neurofeedback sessions on clients (and here I must add that Dr. Jerry Cunningham was my supervisor), I began to observe certain tendencies during the EEG sessions. For example, if the audio stimulation being used was generated in a synchronized manner, the client?s ability to achieve the targeted brainwave frequency was enhanced, and when given alternating pulsed stimulus, the ability to achieve the target frequency was inhibited. Humm? There were plenty of other tendencies happening, but this one intrigued me the most.

So EEG Neurofeedback sessions show the therapist just what is occurring in particular parts of their client?s mind. That?s a good thing. But the amount of sessions needed before any improvement can be observed with their client(s) can often exceed over twenty appointments. Given the cost of just one session means multiple sessions can be rather expensive. That?s really not a good thing.

As mentioned earlier, many strides have taken place in the field of EEG Neurofeedback. Better instruments, more sensitive readouts, remote use of EEG units, and hopefully you are sitting down for this: some insurance companies actually cover EEG Neurofeedback treatment.

But for me, personally, after years of utilizing EEG Neurofeedback, light and sound mind machines, tactile stimulation and various other modalities, I find EEG treatment to be unnecessarily costly and downright slow in rectifying mental, emotional and physical ailments. I prefer specially designed sessions built into light and sound mindmachines. They are better accepted by my customers and clients as these machines cost far less than EEG equipment, can be used almost everywhere at your own convenience, with goals being met far faster than a multitude of EEG sessions. And consider this: for the price you pay a therapist to conduct your 20 or more EEG sessions, you can purchase your own EEG system, with training! For an effective mind machine that would meet your specific needs, they range in price from $200 to $600. For the correct EEG neurofeedback system, far more. Big difference!

But EEG sessions showed me several idiosyncrasies that assisted in making light and sound mindmachines produce more effective sessions. That ?in sync / alternating stimulus? observation was just one.

Today, I find the best use for my EEG system is to function as a form of real-time documentation of how effective and entraining a mindmachine session actually is. When I test a light/sound session and view it on the EEG monitor, I get an actual idea of how entraining a mindmachine session is, or isn?t. If the EEG readout illustrates the session?s entrainment qualities, that session is a keeper. If the readout shows very little entrainment ability, then the session is deleted. In short, for me, nothing beats an EEG neurofeedback system for documenting the effectiveness of a light and sound mindmachine session.

Copyright / Granada Hills, CA / Nov. 18, 2011  All Rights Reserved