Funny how rumors get started…One person thinks they understand how something works and says, “it must work like this” while another says “no, I heard it worked like this”, and yet another says, “in my experience it must be like this”. Before you know it suddenly, all these funny rumors, inventions and in some cases superstitions, have started and with little to no truth to it! So, I am going to take a moment to dispel a few rumors.
How NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Training Boosts Creativity, Flexibility and Resilience – A Podcast by Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSWAlex Theoret
On this podcast Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW discusses how the NeurOptimal® brain training system enhances flexibility and resilience so that your maladaptive behaviors are modified in your favor. Catherine is an expert NeurOptimal® trainer who helps clients learn how to run their brains and nervous systems more efficiently. This allows you to become aware of additional choices in your life and create new levels of balanced awareness; giving you heightened levels of effectiveness and increased productivity. The NeurOptimal® works by interrupting brain shifts, so that your brain learns how to organically reorganize itself for optimal functioning. You can learn more about how Catherine’s NeurOptimal® neurofeedback training can help boost your performance by visiting her website http://www.newyorkneurofeedback.com/
Zengar has been developing a Neurofeedback system for years that they have referred to as a Non-linear Dynamical® approach to brain training. But what in the world does that mean? It is sometimes difficult to call this system ‘Neurofeedback’, because this educational brain training program has very little in common with the Linear approach that so many people understand as Neurofeedback.
It helps to understand a little more about the brain. The Brain is ever-changing. Neuroplasticity is an example of how the brain is constantly changing and evolving. Did you know, every time we learn something new the brain is actually making a structural change to itself?! The Central Nervous System (CNS) communicates through the detection of change. The brain’s ability to create neuro-pathways and adapt to a new set of changes is essential for learning and ‘surviving’ …this is called a ‘self-organizing dynamic system’. At the same time, the brain is inherently geared towards the ‘general’ (imprecise) self-regulation based on information. In other words, the brain does not require absolute (or precise) information to learn from, it is always learning and drawing conclusions and formulating, judging, comparing from what information it has received visually, auditorily, tactilely and so forth. What we mean by this can be explained better in an analogy.
A child does not require being taught the ‘BEST’ way to walk (standing so many inches apart) – but rather through experimentation the brain discovers and develops an internal balance and a natural gait unique to that individual. The brain processes and assesses feedback (information) from its own muscles & muscular-skeletal system about its position and stability in space and finds a comfortable stance.
NeurOptimal® has been designed to work in conjunction with the way the body communicates to itself. The training program is Infinitely cycling thereby mirroring through an auditory and visual feedback system a process for the brain to self-regulate. No ABSOLUTE values are ‘augmented’ or ‘inhibited’ as with a Linear process, because as trainers we understand that the brain inherently knows what is ‘best’ and understands the “amount” of activity required for specific functions. NeurOptimal® also understands that individual ‘needs’ vary from brain to brain. So, who better to regulate that than the inherent wisdom of that person’s own brain?
To better understand the process of the CNS let’s compare it to an orchestra. We can think of the instruments as the different parts of the brain…when the brain is healthy all of the parts play together, and are balanced, making an incredible harmonious sound. However, when one instrument is:
In a different ‘time signature’ playing notes too long or short compared to the rest of the orchestra, there is a mismatch in ’Duration’.
If any are ‘too loud’ or “too soft”, there is a mismatch in ‘Intensity’
If any are off key, too sharp or flat, the mismatch is in the ‘Frequency’
Or if any of the information is just ‘off-beat’ or changing the melody, this is noticed as a ‘Shift’.
As the NeurOptimal® system constantly detects these 4-D changes in the brain’s electrical activity (DIFS) it mirrors back to the individual that one or more of these is in the process of change within the CNS – and this gives ‘feedback’ to the overall balance.
The DIFS detection built into the NeurOptimal® software system is mathematically calculating and detecting the change in the cortical activity millisecond by millisecond. This mirroring indicates the information that change is about to occur and the interruption is the feedback that is informing you in “real time”. Then the CNS in its own intrinsic wisdom, makes the changes it deems necessary for personal transformation.
Therefore, it doesn’t really matter if you have migraines, attention problems, sleep issues, fatigue, anxiety, depression or any other ‘symptom’. The symptom is just your body’s way of saying “Hey, pay attention to me, I am not balancing well and need NeurOptimal®!”
Fear is fun. The experience of fright in a safe environment – a Halloween haunted house or movie theater – elicits excitement followed by a critical release of primal emotion. But what if catharsis never materializes? What if one were permanently locked in a state of adrenal fight or flight? For PTSD sufferers, this constant state of alert is their life. Like a mousetrap, terror enters the brain but cannot find an exit. Life with PTSD is a waking nightmare that runs in a constant loop with no relief.
Trent Williams is on intimate terms with real life horror. He retired from Canadian military in 2001 after serving in Bosnia during the especially brutal civil war. Long-simmering grievances in the former multi-cultural Yugoslavia exploded into genocidal extermination and so-called “ethnic cleansings” perpetrated by the rump Serbian military.
For Williams and veterans like him, the brain becomes an incubator for disturbing war experiences. At first, victims may not even sense anything is wrong. But over time, their life is slowly, parasitically overtaken by PTSD. “I was having flashbacks and nightmares. I’d see hands coming out of the ground to grab me,” says Williams. Eight years after arriving home from a war zone, his life fell apart. “I didn’t realize how screwed up I was. I couldn’t even live a normal life,” Williams remembers. “I was barely functioning, I was so stuck.”
For many PTSD sufferers, the emotional landslide begins with deprivation of the most basic life function: sleep. The restorative benefits of consistent sleep patterns are well documented. On the other hand, the neurological distress generated by a lack of sleep is equally profound. Williams didn’t have a few sleepless nights; rather, he didn’t sleep well for almost a decade. He stopped dreaming. His memory and cognition became fuzzy. Focus was impossible. He became overwhelmed with depression and suicidal ideations. And Williams often drank himself to sleep. “I felt like the walking dead,” he recalled.
“I DIDN’T WANT TO ADMIT SOMETHING WAS WRONG”
In truth, Williams himself was reluctant to admit his life was crumbling. “I didn’t want to admit something was wrong. I didn’t like the social stigma of it.” When Williams finally reached out to Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) for help, he was given the traditional treatment protocols: talk therapy and medication. At least they confirmed he was suffering from PTSD and major depressive disorder triggered by combat. But no therapy can work fast enough for someone suffering daily for over ten years. Medication cocktails masked – but did not fundamentally change – his core symptoms. Williams’ anxiety persisted and any increases in his medication turned him into a “zombie”.
By now, Williams was desperate. He researched frantically for any kind of relief. He came to understand that his illness stemmed – not from some personal weakness or failing – but from the physiology of his brain. A neurological trip wire had been set off. There had to be some way of “resetting” it, he reasoned.
Conventional treatments had failed him, so Williams went exploring into the cutting edge of brain science. It was there he discovered neurofeedback, a time-tested brain training technology that was being used in exciting new ways. He saw testimonials from veterans on YouTube. Many had tried to technology and had remarkable success. “I said to myself, ‘Why isn’t this more well known’?”
In 2015, he stumbled across an American veteran’s support website, HomecomingforVeterans.com. One of the volunteers there – Susan Gillies – was a professional NeurOptimal neurofeedback trainer. She was offering neurofeedback technology to veterans…for free. She arranged a session for Williams using NeurOptimal Neurofeedback’s proprietary brain training system. Given Williams’ history, Gillies thought it wise to start him slowly. His first appointment was essentially a demo as opposed to a full “session” of neurofeedback training.
But the effects were anything but partial.
“IT WAS LIKE I CAME ALIVE”
“That first [session] was like, ‘Wow’!” recalled Williams. There is no set threshold when a user starts to feel the positive effects of neurofeedback training. But for Williams, the benefits were immediate and tangible. “It was like I came alive.” The funk weighing on his life suddenly lifted. All at once, he was able to pull himself out of the moat of negative thinking that he’d been drowning in for years. And that night, after a decade of REM sleep deprivation, Williams dreamed. He slept eight hours straight.
The benefits only bloomed as Williams continued a course of regular neurofeedback sessions with Gillies. After a few more sessions, he curbed his depression medications. The compulsion to drink himself to sleep evaporated. He stopped having night sweats. After feeling out of control for so long, Williams was back behind the wheel, choosing a direction and taking control of his life. Williams noted, “The difference was unbelievable. Night and day.” Soon after started the training, he earned his license for heavy machine and truck driving and secured a new job. His life was suddenly returned to him.
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON
Trent’s son, Shawn, had followed in his father’s military service footsteps. After completing two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Shawn was starting to exhibit classic signs of PTSD. Though some colleagues accused him of “faking it”, Shawn was granted a medical discharge and returned home to his father’s care. One of the first things Williams did was introduce Shawn to Susan Gillies and her seemingly magical neurofeedback machine. Similarly, after just a few sessions Shawn claimed he “felt different. All that anxiety was just gone.”
Since regaining his life, Williams has become something of a neurofeedback evangelist. He spreads the gospel of brain science to any veteran who will listen. He continues to lobby VAC so that neurofeedback training will eventually become a service offered free of charge to even more veterans suffering from PTSD. Williams says that education and research is the key to these veterans understanding that their condition is not some personal weakness or failing. “Those guys suffering from no energy, no focus or concentration – they need to come forward”, offers Williams. As he has discovered, coming forward is the first step towards moving ahead and leaving PTSD behind.
Migraines are more than just a headache — they are a global health issue. 30 million people are directly affected and migraines cost employers $13 billion every year in lost worker productivity. That’s more than diabetes and asthma combined. For many sufferers, attacks are completely debilitating and can last as long as 72 hours.
Unfortunately, the Migraine Research Foundation estimates that the majority of migrainers never seek medical treatment. That may be because the medications involved can cause side-effects worse then the original migraine. That leaves natural remedies for migraines – like neurofeedback. Dr. Sue Brown is among those people (women are 3 times more susceptible to the condition) who has lived with severe migraines all her life. Fortunately, she’s also an inventor and brain training expert. Brown didn’t co-found NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback specifically to address her migraine symptoms, but employing her own neurofeedback system for that purpose has transformed her life.
It only seems appropriate to close out Insomnia Awareness Month by interviewing neuroscientist and certified sleep medicine specialist, Dr. Edward O’Malley of Fairfield, Connecticut. He has utilized NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback as a cornerstone of his practice for many years now. Basically, Dr. O’Malley is so good at his job that he puts people to sleep; and that’s a good thing. The vast majority of clients who darken his doors are staring at the ceiling most of the night.