Product Review: NeurOptimal Neurofeedback made by Zengar

Product Review:

Zengar’s neurofeedback system called NeurOptimal has been on the market for the past several years.  At Cognitive Connections we use it as we prepare the body’s system to be functionally calm while reinforcing the mental state of focused and alert.  Most individuals use this this as a standalone process to create a homeostasis within the CNS (Central Nervous System).

I have been a Neurofeedback practitioner for 26 years.  Beginning with systems within our field that promote that the practitioner set up and define the amount of ‘feedback’ an individual was going to get during their therapy depending on their diagnosis.  This required us to set the software program and thresholds for the individual to attain their goals.  These instruments leave a great deal of responsibility and authority to the therapist.  Sadly, many times the therapist went to a weekend course before they put up a shingle stating they were a Professional in Neurofeedback.

Let’s look at how Neurofeedback traditionally works:  a computer runs a software program that indicates how much strength (microvolts) of a signal or cortical activity (electro-magnetic information) that individual is displaying.  Some Neurofeedback technicians believe that depending on where these little sensors are placed on the head they can directly influence the ‘brain-wave’ activity directly below that sensor.  After working with a group of Neurologists in Indiana, I have come to understand that this little electrode is only reading a ‘summation’ of all the cortical activity that is being generated in the brain so the changes that occur with Neurofeedback is global, through-out the brain.  Due to this concept it also stands to reason the brain being dynamic is always changing and it would be impossible to change one very small area of activity without it affecting the rest of the brain.  It would be the same as if you went to the gym to work out and decided to only work your left bicep, no matter what exercise you did to increase muscle mass in the left bicep it would also affect the surrounding muscles (and make you look funny).

So, in the traditional model we measure the amount of microvolts (strength) of electromagnetic activity and the practitioner then sets up ‘thresholds’ or boundaries to ‘inhibit’ and ‘augment’ specific frequency levels dependent upon what they call a qEEG.  The q’ is a 24 channel unit that takes a picture of the cortical activity under different brain circumstances and then produces a standard protocol driven on that 12-15 minutes of recorded activity.  The individual is usually asked to sit still with eyes open then eyes closed, and asked to do a task under pressure such as counting backwards from 335 by 7’s.   This measurement is recorded and depending on what the tech sees that day the next several months of brain training is focused on that static moment.  The cons to this program from my perspective are that our brain is not static, and the individual’s cortical activity in that moment is probably not indicative of what they are like when they are not in a stranger’s office being pasted up with wires and fearful of what the results may say.  The Pro’s are they are a pretty picture J

This static picture, traditionally then drives the protocols of sessions this person will take with that technician meaning the next 25-30 sessions will be set up to assume this person is ‘anxious’ due to the 23-38 hz activity displayed or they have ‘attention’ concerns due to the excess slow activity in the brain, with eyes open.  This could be a somewhat accurate picture of that individual but very likely the qEEG has taken pictures of a brain that is influenced by the concerns of the process (lack of sleep the night before, full/empty stomach, dialogue with spouse/parent, work related issues or school related issues that day).

After using these traditional systems for several years I discovered a different method of recording and mirroring back the ‘brain  events’ sometimes referred to as ‘turbulence’ within the cortical activity and achieving a neuronal balance; NeurOptimal.   Dr. Val Brown created a system that works along with a dynamic (ever-changing) brain.  His program has ‘targets’ within the software that actually encompasses the entire range of frequencies from 0.5 hz to 128 hz and allows the brain to self-organize by using ‘auto-dynamical’ settings.  The result of this type of a global system is constantly mirroring the cortical activity to the individual this ‘information’ is received and results in a dance between the computer and the individual.

When we have a frequency or two that is too loud in the brain it is like having a trumpet blaring in an orchestra.  We want the trumpets in the orchestra however, if you cannot hear any of the violins, then there is a problem.  All of the cortical activity we have is good activity, however, when we get too much of certain frequencies then they become too loud and jeopardize the ‘jobs’ of other frequencies (like being able to sleep because your anxiety frequencies are too loud).  This sounds simplistic however, suffice it to say, with NeurOptimal the brain is able to be dynamic and the system will respond in the moment and give information that allows that person to ‘retrain’ their brain.

The Pros of this innovative system are:

  • It is able to give information to all frequencies at one time, this program is global mirroring back information from 0.5 hz to 128 hz. This creates a relationship with the program rather than the technician picking and choosing specific frequencies to augment or inhibit. (In traditional systems, if you can take away ADHD, but depending on your experience and knowledge you can also create it by augmenting and inhibiting the wrong frequencies)
  • NeurOptimal is perfect for all people working on all conditions including Peak-Performance, not because it is a ‘one size fits all’ but because it is using the auto-dynamical thresholds and ‘meeting the person where their cortical activity is on that given day’, using whatever brain events that person has and detecting ANY turbulence in that cortical activity. The instrument will detect this activity within milliseconds and give information to the trainee that they had an interruption upon which time the system then will respond in kind. (256 times per second!  Faster than any trainer could physically respond to the individual!)
  • The music is beautiful; using music created just for this program, Jeff Bova, wrote a seamless rendition that encompasses the individual.
  • The system is so self-regulated it is now able to be purchased as a home system for anyone to use and gain benefit from.
  • Therapists that do adjunctive processing, like we use at Cognitive Connections are able to do Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy at the same time as they are doing Neurofeedback. We use this system for many concerns, strokes, TBI’s, Auditory Processing, ADHD, FASD, Autism and Sleep/Pain concerns.  Programs like Bulletproof Executive are using the system to promote Peak Performance due to its ease and robust abilities.  Other mental health therapists use it in their office for trauma, depression, PTSD, and bessel van der Kolk’s recommendations. .

The Cons

  • The visual graphics that the system uses right now is Windows media player, and although, this is beautiful, I personally would appreciate a different more visually appealing program. ( I understand Zengar is looking at changing that in its newest rendition)
  • The paste is still a concern with all systems, traditional and NeurOptimal, for now that is a concern we all just have to live with!
  • The program is so easy to use it is putting therapists out of business! No seriously reducing the number of months sometimes years a therapist is working with a client!

*It is of note that although I do not work for Zengar or gain monetary gain from writing this, I am a teacher and trainer of this method to other therapists and potential users of NeurOptimal.  Should you have any additional questions about either traditional or Dynamic Neurofeedback systems do not hesitate to contact me at 317-258-7444 or http://www.cognitive-connections.com    

Dr. Lise’ DeLong, PhD, CPCRT   ~Developmental NeuroCognitive Specialist

Have You Taught Your Children About FASD?

It truly takes a whole village to raise a child! We must ALL work together to help the next generation! I remember once seeing a young girl in a restaurant and she had started to take a drink of wine. I ran up to her and stopped that drink. She said it was the first ‘drink’ she had since she found out she was pregnant. She then went on to say it was her Birthday and she was celebrating. I am always surprised by the lack of knowledge of FASD, but went on to explain even 1 drink can make a life-long permanent change in the brain of a baby, depending on what part of the brain is being ‘developed’ at the time of ingestion. It is truly our responsibility to help others become aware of how their actions will affect others!

“Is it safe to drink a little alcohol while pregnant, such as an occasional glass of wine?

No. According to the CDC and the U.S. Surgeon General, “There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink and no safe kind of alcohol.”  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: “There is no safe amount of alcohol when a woman is pregnant. Evidence based research states that even drinking small amounts of alcohol while pregnant can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, or sudden infant death syndrome.”

When you drink alcohol, so does your developing baby. Any amount of alcohol, even in one glass of wine, passes through the placenta from the mother to the growing baby.  Developing babies lack the ability to process, or metabolize, alcohol through the liver or other organs.  They absorb all of the alcohol and have the same blood alcohol concentration as the mother.  It makes no difference if the alcoholic drink consumed is a distilled spirit or liquor such as vodka, beer, or wine.”  http://www.nofas.org/light-drinking/

Thirty-two years ago we adopted a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Her birth Mother was 14 years old.  When we found our little girl when she was 18 months old.  She had no verbal language ability and severe global Apraxia, she was diagnosed with a profound sensory neural loss in her left ear (no functional hearing) and a conductive moderate loss in her right ear. She was unable to stand on her own, was not crawling yet and had a pinched torticollis (which now has left her with hands shaking and a lack of balance).  My heart went out to her and we have spent the last 30 years advocating for her.  She has had a VERY difficult life and continues to have significant problems due to her birth parents being very young, uneducated, and intensely self-involved (as many teens are).

Our children are having babies and they MUST understand the ramifications of even 1 drink while they are pregnant. We are responsible for teaching them.  The time that is the most impressionable to the brain is in the first trimester when many girls do not even know they are pregnant.  Therefore, to a girl that is sexually active everyday must be treated as if today is the day a new life may begin…

The Effects of Subtle FAS:

Fetal Alcohol has a spectrum from mild to severe some of the most mild may look like ADHD but the cognitive effects can be severe and lasting a life time.

  • Learning information and remembering/retaining information
  • Understanding and following auditory, visual or written directions
  • Controlling emotions, highs and lows
  • Communicating and socializing (many times inappropriate)
  • Behavioral concerns ( can be angry and volatile)
  • Daily life skills, such as feeding, brushing teeth, bathing are forgotten
  • No impulse control
  • Not able to learn from their mistakes
  • Auditory Processing problems (unable to understand directions, or listen to more than 1 thing at a time)
  • Attention Problems- Can not stay focused on the topic,
  • Specific Learning Disabilities- Math, Reading Comprehension,

The mild cases are most challenging in some ways, they do not look as if anything is wrong and the individual may even be very bright however, the more subtle brain damage can be the most devastating to an individual.  They know they should be able to learn, that they are different and that they do not have the emotional control that others their age have.

Any alcohol at any time during a pregnancy may have a life-time effect on the baby’s brain.

Do you really want to take a chance on a lifelong disability for your child?  Is that one glass of wine worth the possibilities of FAS?  It is not just YOUR life that is affected.  Your child may look ‘normal’ and have life long cognitive, emotional and psychological damage.

I want to thank our daughter for being so patient with the world…learning how to accept life based on a ‘non-handicapped person’s’ view of what the environment and conditions of the world should be like for her. You have raised us to be more understanding and more compassionate because of your willingness to wait on us to ‘come around’ to your needs. The world will learn someday!  You are a brave girl living with this condition as you put on your huge forgiving smile and continue to struggle daily to learn, live and love…and all because of the pleasure of a few drinks of alcohol for one very young, immature, uninformed girl. I want to promise you sweetie, we will educate the world…because FASD is 100% preventable and it is a horrific burden for all of those suffering with this condition to bear.

Lise’ DeLong, Ph.D., CPCRT

The Brain that Trains Itself

What?  Brains can train themselves?  YES!

We have known for years about Neuroplasticity  which is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by creating new neural connections.  Neurons or nerve cells in the brain will learn a new pathway to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or even changes in their daily environment.

For the first time a system has discovered a method of recording the brain’s cortical activity and ‘mirroring back’ to itself (256 times per second) what it just did so it can learn from it’s own actions or brain events.  As the brain is presented this information it reorganizes and learns from itself!

As this balance occurs the person will first be able to sleep better; falling asleep within 5-20 minutes, staying asleep all night (without too much tossing or turning) and waking feeling refreshed.  This first change helps to generate an environment that allows a reduction in many of the symptoms people have such as; anxiety,  depression, reactions to stress, rumination (repeating certain thoughts over and over) and learning new skills or learning to compensate for lost skills.

This tool has been specially designed to allow for ease of use in the office for therapists or technicians and for families in their home.  It is a simple product that is robust and consistent.  People use this system for attention, memory, sleep, stress, mood concerns, peak performance, brain injuries such as traumatic brain disorders, strokes, concussive syndromes and trauma.

If you are interested in learning more about how to retrain your brain and take advantage of the process of neuroplasticity using the NeurOptimal system call us at 317-258-7444 and we will share more information with you!

A thought from Dr. Lise’

 

 

 

 

 

Q. Do we Teach our Children Useless Information or Do we Teach Them in a Way they Can’t Remember?

How many of you recall learning information in school that you said “I will never use this again, why do I need to learn this?”  I sure remember that!  However, it is true a broad education is important.  The more information we know the stronger the foundation for our new learning experiences.  Then why is it we can’t recall any of that old information they taught us in grade school?  The “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader”  questions from that TV show demonstrated just how little most adults remember of what is being taught in our schools today.  So, are the children being taught information that is not necessary to remember?  Or were we taught in a method that didn’t ‘stick’ for most individuals?

The “use it or lose it” philosophy is also a true one…we know repetition and consistency is the key to solidifying new information.  But still many adults can’t recall how to do division of decimals or know World Geography, or who was the President in 1911 or even how to spell specific words, even though they had to write it over and over a 100 times.

Perhaps it is the method we were taught.  For most of us we learn in a variety of ways; visual, auditory, tactile, through a variety of senses even olfactory (sense of smell).  Do you remember what you ate for dinner last night?  You probably have to think, “where was I last night”…this is a locale memory a system triggered by ‘location or place’.   Sadly, 90% of the way we are taught in most schools is lecture based…listening, even reading can be considered a listening skill, because so many people read each word individually in their heads.

But did you know, we learn more information and faster when we learn it in a brain-based method, meaning in a way that honors our brains.  Here is an example…I give you a list of 3 things to remember to pick up at the store; apples, toilet paper and milk.  You could remember arbitrarily those three items, or you could put them in alphabetical order or you could create a story out of them.  The more ‘involved’ your brain is in remembering the information (in other words the stronger your intent is and the more attention your brain has given to the task) the  more likely you are to recall all of the items quickly.

So let’s add another element…that story you were telling yourself about these items…why not make the story more emotionally driven.  ‘The apple had been taken from its family tree and it was sadden to its very core (humor adds to the emotional content). The toilet paper was used to absorb the tears of milk streaming out of the apple’s stem.’

The brain, although extremely intricate and sophisticated is also very primitive.  The more ‘nasty’, colorful, silly, or absurd,  the story the more that brain will remember that information (stimulating all those sense we have!).  Who remembers their first nasty joke?  Or their first kiss, especially if it was a ‘hidden/secret’ kiss?  The first fight you were in with a best friend or spouse that tore you apart for a while?  These were stories driven by emotion or passion and these make strong memories.  Hence, those horrible traumatic events are always a stronger memory than the mundane math facts you need to know for a test.  So, it is more difficult to forget traumatic memories.

Emotion will drive our attention and as we all know when we are attentive we learn new information.  I remember my daughter’s experience in the public school.  (She is our adopted daughter with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) I went to pick her up from school her first day in 4th grade and as a special needs student she had a folder with 22 print outs.  This is what she had done that day, was sat at her desk and filled out 22 papers.  I can only imagine the boredom associated with these papers, not to mention the lack of engagement and therefore the lack of learning!  She had no way to ‘associate’ this information to what she already knew and so it was not a meaningful experience.  There was no passion driving this new information and it was not in a mode that drove curiosity, therefore, it was not learned.

Renate and Geoffry Caine have been teaching individuals how the brain learns for years.  http://wnmu.edu/old/facdev/files/Natural_Learning.pdf  They state there are 12 basic principles to learning and share these in a visual representation. Principles-Wheel_2014  These learning principles when applied in a school setting can have a major impact on the way we learn and retrieve information.

So, when you are helping your child learn their homework or day to day life time experiences…remember, the way you teach the information is key not what you teach!  For more information on how the brain learns join us in our CogCon courses beginning with our online Introductory webinar. http://cognitive-connections.com/index.php/brain-shop/product/5-an-introduction-to-neurocognitive-processing-webinar

Happy learning, just another thought by Dr. Lise’

Creative Ways to Teach the Basic Subjects

Creative Ways to Teach the Basic Subjects

Zombie science and math!!  Well, I can say I am not a fan of the Zombies…BUT, what a creative way to get the attention of what could be the next generation of scientists’!  The brain is such a complex organ and taking the time to share how it manifests the symptoms in a manner that our youth will comprehend is what is missing in our education system.

Books are a WONDERFUL “tool” but we have got to the point in schools that they are basically our only method of teaching (in many cases).  Most people cannot sit for 7 hours straight and stay attentive, not too many of our adults can do that!  And yet we have our children sitting for hours on end trying to stay quiet and focused day after day.  

 In the STEM program, Mayim Bialik took the way the brain learns using; emotional draw, subject matter of peak interest, graphic content, colorful visuals, an absurd subject, horrific content and created an educational platform that allows students to formulate ideas, draw conclusions, and create hypothesis’.  

It is time for our schools to give ‘guidelines’ and allow teachers to be creative as they teach these traditional subjects.  If we look at why most private schools are so successful we see smaller class size therefore, more individualized attention.  We can also see fewer restrictions on our teachers as to ‘how to teach’ instead they have some creativity in their own area of expertise.   

As an founder and administrator of a private school I understand how difficult it is to constantly be creating a program that demands alternative ways of learning.  But I was also witness to daily programs such as STEM.  Incredible teachers facilitating learning using music, dance, drama/puppetry, language, literature and the visual arts.  The more restrictions a teacher has the less ability they will have to generate interest in that subject matter.  The most successful schools have teachers that have been able to introduce their personalities, their passions and their love for learning into their program.

As we approach a new school year, as parents, let’s be active in the PTO’s/PTA’s and help our teachers with programs that will inspire creativity and ‘thinking outside of our restrictive boxes’ that we have created in our educational system.  

Happy school start and BE CREATIVE FOLKS !!!! 

Just another thought by Dr. Lise’ 

 

Learning Doesn’t have to be Hard and Boring

Learning Doesn't have to be Hard and Boring

I am asked all the time “What can I do to make my brain to think faster”? I have to say, play games!!! Not just any ole’ game tho…specific games to your brain’s issues. Remember the game Stratego? Or what about Quarto? Maybe 9 Man Morris? These are very old but very good games for strategy. Every game has an educational or learning value.

If you think about life, it is true we PLAY when we learn…As a banker you play with numbers, as an author you play with words, as a detective you play with facts…and as a teacher you play with knowledge.

If we could wish anything on our children as adults we say, “I wish for them a happy, successful life” and that means, a FUN life one that makes them happy! And having a successful life would mean they love what they do.

So, remember since modeling is the most effective way to teach…model FUN…model HAPPY and above all model SUCCESS by loving what you do!

Then you too will be a researcher of life…through PLAY!

Just a thought by Dr. Lise’

Happy ENERGY to you all!!!!

It is Said That 80% of What We Do in a Given Day is Auditory Based…

It is Said That 80% of What We Do in a Given Day is Auditory Based...

The Auditory brain comprises a variety of our basic skills from hearing information, and localizing sound, to listening so as to formulate new associations with existing information. The auditory brain also contributes in controlling our ability to divide and divert our attention so we can sustain attention to learn new information.

Many of our memory systems rely on our ability to listen, to decode, and then to recall auditory information. If any component to our auditory brain is slow to process (such as happens with auditory reception) then our auditory brain is unable to do its job efficiently, therefore, speed processing is essential to this part of the brain.

I know some people struggle to stay focused on a main speaker in a class room/work environment while other individuals may read each word in their head as they read to themselves. If they have difficulties with their auditory brain, they can even get lost in their own reading just as when they are listening to someone speak and not remember what they just read or heard!

If these are of concern to you then here are a few ideas to help with your auditory brain!
1. Play the hand held game of Simon
2. Listen to nonsense sentences and repeat them aloud exactly as you heard it.
3. Listen to recorded vocal music you do not know very well and stop the recording every so often and try to repeat the sentence, phrase or verse word for word. This will increase the amount of information you can retain at one time.
4. Listen to someone tell about themselves or about a book they just read and see how many details you can remember 2-3 minutes later.

For more ideas or information on the auditory brain contact us:
http://www.cognitive-connections.com
317-888-7420