Neurofeedback and Brain Functioning
The NeurOptimal(r) form of neurofeedback is not a medical procedure. Just as someone might engage a physical trainer to provide feedback on his/her performance, so too might someone seek NeurOptimal(r) to provide feedback as to his/her brain functioning. Thereafter in both instances it is up to the individual to do the work at either enhancing their physical performance or brain functioning.
The brain is a self-regulating organ with the capacity to reorganise, repair or renew the neural pathways and connections. This self-regulating ability of the brain is well accepted by the medical and neurological professions and is known as neuroplasticity. A mass of neural pathways inter-connect by electrical impulses and serve to communicate information from and to all parts of the body through the central, peripheral and enteric nervous systems.
The NeurOptimal® neurofeedback system merely observes the brain’s electrical activity, feeding back to the brain when it detects less than optimal functioning. What the brain chooses to do – or potentially to ignore – that feedback information is without influence by the trainer or training process.
Neurofeedback was first developed in the early 1970’s as a tool to assist patients with epilepsy. It was so successful that its use was extended to patients with a wide range of clinical conditions, including ADHD, depression, anxiety, traumatic brain injury and many more. After years of further research, the NeurOptimal® form of neurofeedback was subsequently developed in the 1990’s by the Zengar Institute in Canada with the intent of working with the brain’s natural healing capacity. This process is 100% natural, non-diagnostic and non-invasive given that the practitioner does not influence the process, nor send any form of electrical current into the brain. There are over 2,000 NeurOptimal(r) systems in place worldwide and approximately 60 within Australia.
This form of neurofeedback is recognised by the US FDA as a General Wellness Device.
Further more specific information on NeurOptimal(r) neurofeedback is available from http://www.neuroptimal.com.
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What happens in a session …
The practitioner will place 2 sensors to your scalp and 3 to your ears. For 33 minutes you will recline comfortably in the chair listening to beautiful music through headphones. You may want to close your eyes and rest, sometimes even sleep.
The sensors enable the system to observe the brain’s electrical activity at the rate of 256 observations per second and this information is sent through to a highly sophisticated computerised programme. When the NeurOptimal(r) programme detects a particular type of turbulent activity it will very briefly interrupt the music at those points. This is the feedback loop which alerts the brain to the presence of neural activity that is less than optimal. You might hear a slight scratchy noise at the moment of interruption, although many more interruptions occur beyond your awareness. The brain’s natural ability to self-regulate may then commence. No electrical current enters the brain.
On conclusion, the practitioner removes the sensors and headphones and typically, you will leave feeling refreshed, relaxed and well able to resume your normal activities.
The NeurOptimal® method of neurofeedback is not a treatment because the brain has the option of acting on that feedback, or not. Nor is it diagnostic. The practitioner does not need to know your history although having an understanding of current day symptoms will assist in monitoring progress. The opportunity to discuss these is available to the degree necessary.
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Who Can Benefit? …
NeurOptimal® neurofeedback has the potential to benefit anyone – a formal clinical diagnosis or specific condition is not necessary. Just as a well running car functions better after a tune-up, so too will the brain benefit from a ‘tune-up’ of its own although unlike a car service, the practitioner does not do anything specific to bring about change. The brain does the work; the training process merely informs the brain of its performance in real time, just as a physical trainer informs the individual of what is observed that warrants attention in order for the individual’s body to perform optimally. It is regarded as a general wellness process with a diverse range of benefits known to potentially result.
The number of sessions necessary to achieve the optimum level of benefit will vary subject to the nature and degree of the presenting problem/s. However, usually some early evidence of the change process is noticeable within the first few sessions and increasing thereafter, with the majority feeling significant benefit within 10-20 sessions.