- Learn the difference
- How does a session work
- Is it safe?
- Are there any side-effects?
- Why renting is the top choice – FAQs about renting
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NEUROPTIMAL® AND OTHER NEUROFEEDBACK SYSTEMS
A first crucial difference is that when using NeurOptimal® there is no need for diagnosis. Why is this? NeurOptimal® is designed to give the brain information about what it has just done. The brain then uses this information to organize itself. During a session, the client listens to music or watches a movie file (avi, mov or other popular movie formats). The music/movie plays continuously when the brain is running “on course” (whatever that course is for that particular brain) but as soon as NeurOptimal®detects that the brain has “veered off” its path or has become less stable than what it just was, feedback is provided to the brain via a very brief pause in the sound. By offering this information NeurOptimal® gives the opportunity to the brain to adapt itself in response to the information, which then provides yet new and different information for NeurOptimal® to mirror back. Like a dance, NeurOptimal® and the brain adapt to each other microsecond by microsecond, dynamically adjusting their steps based on what the other has just done.
This dynamic perspective is extremely different from the other, traditional neurofeedback systems. These systems require you to diagnose ahead, sometimes via what is called a QEEG or brain map, which is a decision on which direction the practitioner feels the brain needs to be pushed as a result of a single static picture taken days or weeks earlier. These are called protocols. Diagnosing and then treating in this way is actually a VERY awkward and slow feedback loop from NeurOptimal®’s perspective that does not offer the on-going “self-correction” that naturally happens as part of the brain’s dance with itself.
With NeurOptimal® the brain is simply interacting adaptively with itself moment by moment, not striving to produce "more" of some frequency and "less" of another according to an outside “expert”. While those kinds of changes may be observed, they occur as part of an intrinsic self-organizing principal rather than an artificially imposed constraint. This is a large part of both the inherent power and safety of NeurOptimal®and how it invites very seamless change.
HOW A NEUROFEEDBACK SESSION WORKS
Is it OK if I do other things while training such as read, play games on iPad, etc.?
Yes! The NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Trainer does not require you to place your attention on the training screen in order to run a successful session. The feedback comes primarily through interruptions in the music/audio. If you can hear the music, then the training session will be successful. You can read, sleep, meditate, whatever you feel inclined to do.
How do I know if the sensors are correctly set up?
As long the sensors are roughly mid-way between ear and top of head and the hair is parted with sensor stuck to the head, its a good hookup. Only if the sensor is dangling off the head is it a bad one. Watch a short video on how to add the sensors here.
Why NeurOptimal® neurofeedback?
The way global information based neurofeedback works is giving your brain intelligent information about itself so that it can optimize it’s functioning. That’s how it can be diagnostically agnostic. Basically, NeurOptimal neurofeedback is teaching the brain to be smarter, learning to come into the present to gather info before it makes a decision rather than doing what’s habitual— anxiety being a common brain habit.
For more information on other neurofeedback systems, visit Zengar’s website, which is the company behind NeurOptimal. NeurOptimal vs. the rest.
What's the purpose of the music in Neurofeedback training?
How neurofeedback works is actually not about the particular sound or sight but rather how the orienting response of the brain gets triggered by stopping the music or visual display. We are “bio-hacking” by interrupting the habitual patterns of the brain through the use of the brain’s natural information gathering process, the orienting response. It’s triggered by interrupting the music which triggers the awareness response of the automatic functioning CNS to come into the present moment . This serves as an opportunity for the brain to see it’s habitual mal-adaptive choices and then to correct them, hence the resolving of symptoms such as anxiety, which is the body’s fight / flight response, which is only supposed to be used when here’s an immediate threat to the body’s safety. When the brain sees this habitual choice is inappropriate for the here-and-now it will change course.
So while there is the necessity for sound it’s not the particulars of it, that make the neurofeedback effective; it’s the interruption process at the exact millisecond the brain is about to change states (read by the EEG patterning of the brain) and perform an action that is key for the ‘feedback.’
Is neurofeedback safe?
NeurOptimal® neurofeedback is safe for anyone to use. Why? Because nothing is being added to your brain. The training works by alerting your automatic functioning part of the brain to its own actions (this part controls the fear response, flight/flight/freeze, sleep, attentiveness, executive functioning, etc.) so it can ‘see’ its own maladaptive patterns. Because the brain is designed to be responsive to new information, when the NeurOptimal Neurofeedback System alerts the brain to it’s own functioning the brain will naturally tweak itself to be the most efficient and effective response. It’s as if the brain, upon being alerted to it’s own behaviour says “hey, I’m about to produce a stress response when I’m sitting in a safe space. That’s not efficient or an appropriate response. I’m going to change what I’m doing.”
What about side effects - are there any?
NeurOptimal® is non-invasive and does not push the brain in any “direction” during training, it is highly unlikely you will feel any side effects following a session. Any noticeable shifts in your mood, awareness or energy level after brain training really depends on the individual and can vary from session to session.
Very few clients report negative side effects, and if they do, it’s usually drowsiness during or immediately after a session.
How does the neurofeedback training work?
When the brain is about to change states and perform an action it produces an electrical “dance” called turbulence. The neurofeedback system identifies the turbulence and through immediately stopping the music/audio in that millisecond the brain’s orienting response is triggered. The orienting response is the process every brain uses to assess changes in their environment. The brain uses auditory changes as it’s primary way to sense change because we can hear 360, as opposed to visual which is limited to 180 degrees of perception.
The orienting response is the brain’s automatic response of ‘coming into the present’ in a similar way as to when you are lost in a daydream and someone calls your name, you automatically orient yourself in the present. This response is triggered when the music stops. It automatically comes in the present and identifies what the needs are for the here-and-now as well as “sees” what it’s about to do automatically. If it identifies an activity that it is about to perform that is not in alignment with present needs it will automatically adjust it’s activity.
For example, if the brain is alerted to come into the present and it ‘sees’ that it is in a safe environment and is reading a book, and it sees it is about to perform a stress response, such as to scan the environment (hypervigilence), it will immediately change it’s functioning to allow for a sustained focus.
The brain is designed to optimize it’s functioning. The neurofeedback system allows for the brain to see it’s own maladaptive habits and change them as it sees fit. There is no outside variable forcing change.
The neurofeedback system is like a mirror and each central nervous system (CNS) changes itself to optimize its own functioning, whether it be an ability to focus when needed, go into sleep mode at night, be calm when there’s no danger, etc.
Do the Effects of NeurOptimal® Training Last?
Training with NeurOptimal® is actually a learning task. You get results because your brain is actively learning, even if you are not doing the learning consciously. So much like reading, once your brain knows how to read, it can’t “not know”. Your brain doesn’t forget. It may get rusty, but the effects of learning remain throughout your lifetime.
However, your brain is living tissue and you can— and will— get "knocked off" by stress, by chemicals, by alcohol, by an anesthetic, by the difficult daily lives we all seem to live. The wonderful thing is, a few booster sessions will get you back to where you were. A "neurofeedback trained brain" is quickly able to utilize the information NeurOptimal® is offering. It's as if the brain says "I know what to do with this!" and it goes through all the steps it went through in the weeks of initial training, but very rapidly. So you quickly get back into your good place.
If you are going through a more difficult time, you can quickly do a session or two at one of our neurofeedback clinics in NYC, Boulder or LA to recover your optimal flow and functioning. Our system is also available for rent per month is you are a returning client. See pricing >
Q&A ON RENTING THE SYSTEM
How much does the Neurofeedback equipment cost to rent?
We offer two different neurofeedback plans to rent. See our pricing here. Each monthly rental plan is for 30 days and starts the day after you pick up or receive the system. Rentals can also be extended for additional months.
Does the paste have to be purchased separately?
No, the NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Trainer comes with all of the materials necessary to run the training sessions.
How many sessions should I run per week?
We usually recommend 1-3 sessions per week per trainee, though you can train up to 5 times per week. The minimum we recommend is once a week because through the training the brain is learning a new way of decision making and, like learning a new language, the more frequently the brain practices, the faster we learn.
If I do 30 sessions in 30 days will that have the same effect as 30 sessions over 3 months?
No. While your brain will learn a lot about itself if you train every day for a month the value of spreading those trainings over 3 months is that it gives your behaviour and thought patterns time to adapt. For example, when the brain learns it doesn't need to stay in an anxious fight/flight pattern it's going to want to hang out less in highly anxious environments.
What if one cannot perform all included sessions in one month?
The monthly fee is regardless of how many sessions one completes. If you don't finish all sessions the first month, you can always extend the rental for an additional month or two weeks. You can then downgrade or upgrade to another plan.
What do I do if I have trouble with my equipment?
Email us immediately with a description of the problem and include the best way/time to reach you. Contact us. It's important that you read the print out that came with the equipment and follow our guidelines how to handle the equipment. Download PDF
What is the minimum and maximum amount of time for which I can rent the NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Trainer?
You can rent the neurofeedback equipment for one month. However, the best results is by renting for 2 months. Read or case study on the best uses of neurofeedback home system. Extend for another month or two weeks after the first month's rental.
Why do we recommend that a parent also train if they are renting a machine primarily for their child’s issues?
Your child’s brain/central nervous system (CNS), is learning to assess current needs from gathering information in the here-and-now, rather than using habitual information/neural pathways. Brain disorders such as anxiety/depression/ADHD are the result of maladaptive brain responses that are based on using habitual information/neural pathways to function not realizing that those responses are not appropriate to the present task. (For example, why should the brain produce an anxious state when their is no threat?) A major shift through training is your child’s brain learns to be in a state called regulation: calm, alert, and open to the here-and-now, and only become active only when their is an event that needs action.
This process of learning is sped up when a primary caregiver’s brain is also learning the same process of being regulated–calm, centered, open. Why? Because just like you see in pack animal behaviors, children’s brains tune themselves to their caregivers’ brains. If the parent is anxious, the child will also become anxious. If the parent becomes calm the child’s brain will also shift, like tuning forks resonating with each other. A wonderful example of this process of attunement is to watch The Dog Whisperer on National Geographic. In the episodes you will see examples of how Cesar (the alpha dog trainer) who is “calm assertive”, i.e. has a regulated CNS, works with an anxious/fearful/aggressive dog through the natural attunement process where a beta dog’s CNS aligns with an alpha’s CNS.
SEE ALSO: Neurofeedback Renting Guide
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