Neurofeedback and Brain Functioning
The brain is a self-regulating organ with the capacity to reorganise, repair or renew the neuronal 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 neuronal pathways inter-connect by electrical impulses. The neuronal pathways serve to communicate information from and to all parts of the body through the central, peripheral and enteric nervous systems.
Over time, the brain’s normal functioning is affected by trauma, personal experience, physical injury, aging, and other life events. The NeurOptimal® neurofeedback procedure merely observes and monitors the brain’s activity, informing the brain, in real time, when it detects less than optimal functioning. The brain’s self-healing capacity then begins the process of balancing the central nervous system, ultimately to its optimal level. For the client, the process is harmless as nothing enters the brain. Instead, the experience is delightfully pleasant and relaxing.
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 Corporation in Canada with the intent of working with the brain’s natural healing capacity. As opposed to other forms of neurofeedback, this process is unique in that it is totally 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.
There is an increasing body of research emerging which provides significant support for the potential benefits to be gained from neurofeedback.
Further more specific information on NeurOptimal(r) Neurofeedback is available from www.zengar.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 35 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 observe the brain’s activity and send this information through to a highly sophisticated computerised programme. It is virtually the same as a mini-EEG commonly used for standard neurological observational purposes. The programme reviews the information and when it detects a particular type of turbulent activity it will very briefly interrupt the music at those points. This alerts the brain to the presence of neuronal 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. Having been alerted to the presence of non-optimal activity, and using its capacity to self-regulate, the brain proceeds to ‘reset’ or correct itself in order to pacify or avoid the turbulence and thereby the healing process is underway. No electrical current enters the brain.
On conclusion, the practitioner removes the sensors and headphones; 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 does its own work. Nor is it diagnostic. The practitioner does not need to know your history other than current use of medications, 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? …
The brain is the powerhouse of the central nervous system which feeds into the peripheral nervous system and into the enteric nervous system within the gut. Therefore the range of conditions which can potentially benefit is substantial. However, and specifically, research and case study reports shows individuals with the following conditions have benefitted from neurofeedback:
- Sleep and Eating Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Anxiety/Panic Attacks/Phobia
- Impact of chemotherapy (‘chemo brain’)
- Depression / Aggression
- ADHD / Autism / Aspergers
- Concentration and Focussing difficulties
- Low Self Esteem/Self Confidence
- Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Stroke and other vascular disorders
Additional general benefits can include:
- Achievement of peak performance in sport, academia and/or creativity;
- An experience of inner peace, a balanced sense of personal equilibrium.
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.
The number of sessions necessary to achieve optimum level of functioning will vary subject to the nature and degree of the presenting problem/s. However, usually some evidence of the change process is noticeable within the first few sessions with the majority feeling significant benefit within 10-15 sessions.