Neurofeedback, also known as EEG Biofeedback or brain training began in the late 1950s and early '60s through the work of both Dr Joe Kamiya at the University of Chicago and Dr Barry Sterman at UCLA. Dr. Kamiya conducted a study using EEG sensors and a simple reward system to discover that people could learn to alter their brain activity. Dr. Sterman ran an experiment to see if cats could increase their sensory motor rhythm or SMR (the label for brain waves at the frequency of 12.5-15.5 Hz). A simple machine gave them a food pellet every time they 'got it right', and they quickly learned to control their brainwaves to get the treat. NASA later approached Sterman because astronauts were having trouble with the toxic rocket fuel being used, which was know to produce seizures. Sternman again used cats from his lab, but this time he was testing the effects of exposure to rocket fuel. As expected, the fuel caused seizures in addition to other negative side effects in the cats. Strangely, about ten cats had a very high threshold for seizures. Dr. Sterman realized these were the cats that had participated in the EEG conditioning experiment. The SMR training seemed to have given those cats ultra-stable brains. Sterman decided to try training SMR in humans to control their epilepsy, and the results were impressive. 60% of his subjects reduced their seizure level by 20-100%, and the results lasted. As a result, NASA trained their lunar astronauts to control their brain's SMR rhythms. Today neurofeedback is still part of the astronaut training program.
In the mid 1970s, neurofeedback gained a reputation as a meditation or spiritual tool, which made it an unpopular choice for career minded researchers. However, research with neurofeedback did continue. By the late '80s neurofeedback was being applied to attention deficit disorders, and through the '90s to a wide variety of psychological and central nervous system based conditions.
Since the 1990’s the medical view of the brain has changed completely, and the principles of neuroplasticity are universally accepted. Neuroscience has come to accept the interrelation between the central nervous system, the autoimmune system, gastro-intestinal system, emotional, physical, and mental health. It has conceded that indeed, the brain can change at any age, and that we create new neurons throughout our life.
Today, Optimize Neurofeedback uses a simple, interactive software that harnesses this powerful technology in an easy to use program called NeurOptimal® that loads onto a laptop computer or tablet.
You, as you were created to be.
The NeurOptimal® proprietary neurofeedback system is a highly personalized brain training software that prompts the central nervous system to help make the best use of your brain’s neural resources. Neurofeedback training for the brain is similar to physical training for the body.
The brain has an inherent ability to self-correct when given the right information, and NeurOptimal® is designed to provide the brain with the information it needs to make its own adjustments.
Much like a mirror that promotes self-correction, NeurOptimal®’s non-linear neurofeedback program monitors your cortical activity (brain waves) and then provides “feedback” to your central nervous system about what it has just done. NeurOptimal® detects changes and informs the brain of theses shifts through interruption in the audio you are listening to during a training session. Your brain quickly relates the brief pause in the audio with the shifts in it’s own electrical activity. With this new information the brain and central nervous system can re-evaluate, and correct if necessary, the path it was on. This happens over and over until the natural self-correction becomes your new normal, and your brain functions more efficiently, effectively, and comfortably.
Even when we are consciously trying to change the way we think or act, we often take the path we are used to. Sometimes that path is the most efficient, sometimes it is not. Non-linear neurofeedback prompts the brain to draw from its existing resources and pull itself out of these mental “ruts”. The result is a more open and positive mindset in which obstacles are more manageable and problems more resolvable.
" NeurOptimal® is simple. But its simplicity belies its power. It’s powerful because it communicates directly with your brain, and there is nothing to interfere with that. There is no outside person having to evaluate or diagnose you, and no outside person deciding what training you need. It’s your brain effectively communicating with itself and making its own changes. Period. "
An analogy: The brief pause in the audio corresponds with the flutter of cortical activity could be compared to the noise of rumble strips when a car drives off the side of the road. The noise created by the rumble strips is not "good" or "bad". It is simply a form of feedback to help you know where you are at on the road. If your goal is to pull off to the side of the road to change a tire, you ignore the sound of the rumble strips because you are doing what needs to be done in the most efficient manner. If your goal is to simply get home quickly and safely, the sound of the rumble strips alerts you to the fact that you were possibly spacing off and maybe not driving as safely and efficiently as you could be. In this case because of the feedback, you decide to correct your steering and become more efficient in your drive home.
We will ask you to complete a tracking tool that lists many complaints and/or challenges that often lead people to seek neurofeedback training. You can share this with your trainer or keep it private. You will then sit in a quiet space and in a comfortable position. Sensors are placed on the scalp to monitor electrical activity of the brain. Sensors are clipped to the ears to provide a ground and control.
A neurofeedback training session is relaxing, enjoyable, and lasts 33 minutes. As the session starts, you will hear music play though headphones and perhaps watch relaxing geometric images gently morph across a computer screen. For children who might be difficult to keep seated for training, we can download a favorite video to watch during the training. You will hear occasional “skips” or interruptions in the music – this is the signal that prompts your brain to return to present and re-evaluate. At the end of a session, most users feel extremely relaxed. It is not uncommon for users to fall asleep during a session.
The information gathered by the sensors is transmitted through wires to an amplifier box, and then through a USB cord to a computer or tablet which analyzes the information. Information travels thru the cords and amp in one direction only, away from the body. NeurOptimal® neurofeedback is 100% non- invasive. Nothing is being put into the brain at any time. Feedback is provided thru the audio you are listening to during the training session. It is impossible for electricity to be transmitted to your brain with this equipment. Think of the sensors, amp, and wires like a stethoscope that a Dr uses to listen to what is going on in your heart. The stethoscope is simply a tool for listening to the heart. The sensors, wires, and amp are simply tools used for listening to the brain
Dynamical Neurofeedback is a technology developed by Zengar Institute and used in its NeurOptimal® neurofeedback training systems. Instead of providing specific “direction”, Dynamical Neurofeedback is designed to take advantage of the brain’s natural learning processes by encouraging it to function as originally designed. NeurOptimal®’s neurofeedback trainers then simply promote and facilitate the brain’s natural tendency toward self-regulation, resilience and flexibility. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holonomic_brain_theory
The Dynamical Neurofeedback technology is unique to the NeurOptimal® Trainer interface and is based on the following observations regarding brain physiology:
Brain Dynamics - The brain is a non-linear, dynamical system that perceives information and adjusts to incoming stimuli in a dynamic of ceaseless, perpetual processes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=16115797
Process Variability - The brain does not demonstrate absolute values for the amount of brain waves required for specific cognitive functions. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=14641563
Functional Targeting - While there are some physiological functions that are largely localized to a pinpoint site within the brain, the larger reality is that the brain is a vastly interconnected network of multiple, distributed functions and locations. It operates much like the entire Worldwide Web does. This means, among other things, that there is a dynamic range of variability within different regions of the brain that determines the optimal psychological balance for each individual. This range also varies dynamically moment to moment depending on the processes that are active in at the time. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=11488256
These principles guide the design of NeurOptimal®’s training systems and ultimately account for the Dynamical Neurofeedback’s effectiveness in addressing a broad range of concerns, across the wide range of settings in which it has been used.
Brain Dynamics – The brain is a dynamical organ geared towards general, but not absolute self-regulation. No one needs to teach a young child the "best" way to walk. Through experimentation, the brain discovers and develops an internal balance and natural gait unique to that individual. The twin processes of adaptation and accommodation work as a dynamic pair to establish the individually unique and optimal way for each individual to work, given their overall physical status, including any limitations or constraints.
This happens because the brain is continually processing and assessing feedback from the muscles and other aspects of the musculo-skeletal system about their relative position and stability in space. In this way it explores, extends and consolidates the intrinsic resilience and flexibility required to walk adaptively regardless of the surface and how soft, bumpy, stable or slippery, etc it might be. Repeating this process throughout each step enables the brain to learn how to walk -- all without any "expert" explaining which movements of which muscles are necessary. https://www.nature.com/articles/nn1930
Similarly, Dynamical Neurofeedback allows the brain to assemble its own response and coping strategies based on incoming information. As a result, the NeurOptimal® system is intrinsically non-invasive and non-corrective.
Process Variability – In addition to infinitely cycling and self-regulating, the brain does not possess absolute values for how much of any particular brain wave is inherently “best” for certain activities. Any such "average" significantly varies from person to person and moment to moment throughout the day. This amount depends on many factors: the task in which the person is engaged; time of day, blood sugar levels; recent amount of rest and sleep, overall health, etc.. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0013469484901950
Given these multiple variables, Dynamical Neurofeedback® does not attempt to restore brain waves to some presumed "average" or "best" level. Instead. NeurOptimal® simply provides the central nervous system with information about what it has already done and allows the brain itself sort out the value of that information. Harnessing the brain’s intrinsic intelligence to regulate the amount of brain waves necessary in any specific moment for that individual is infinitely more effective than turning the task over to even the most powerful computer processor.
Functional Targeting – Given that dynamical, non-linear nature of the brain’s physiological functions, designing a neurofeedback system to target specific conditions or complaints would be akin to chasing sand grains in a desert storm. Dropping a pin in one point in time to address one function or another will ultimately miss the mark because the brain has already “moved on”. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096007790300688X
Instead, Dynamical Neorofeedback® is designed to monitor the brain's electrical activity and - through audible feedback interruptions - notify the brain when it is about to reach the edge of its stability in some region of function. There is nothing intrinsically problematic in reaching the edge of stability. It is precisely what happens when someone goes to sleep. The transition from wakeful consciousness to sleep occurs through a turbulent transition that is marked by the sudden onset of stability: wakefulness collapses as sleepiness emerges and then transitions rapidly into light sleep. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.1487530
Though essential at least once every 24 hours, this natural transition into sleep would be problematic if it occurred while driving in rush hour. The NeurOptimal® system provides a signal, or feedback, to alert the brain that such a transition between states is about to occur. This notification prompts the brain to determine if the transition is desirable or problematic given the current conditions.
Dynamical Neurofeedback®, then, allows the brain to reconnect with its own internal resources to determine what is appropriate in various situations and how best to cope with this information. It is the NeurOptimal® system’s permeability with the brain’s natural processes that allows Dynamical Neurofeedback® to produce such positive effects for so many people regardless of what particular concerns prompted the neurofeedback training. Instead of "chasing problems", the NeurOptimal® system simply prompts the brain to source its own internal, information-rich way of approaching the world across all situations. This non-invasive prompting encourages the brain to return to far more efficient and effective operation regardless of internal and external challenges and demands. As a result, symptoms and problems simply drop away, seamlessly for most people
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