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

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The Feeling and Perception of Parental Love…How Important is it?

The Feeling and Perception of Parental Love...How Important is it?

The ‘trauma’ of not feeling loved or not making that connection with a parent can be devastating forever. It has been coined by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk as a ‘Developmental Trauma Disorder’ and although not adapted by the DSMV, it is definitely descriptive of the impact it has on an individual.

It isn’t always intentional that families are unable to make the communication-relationship work. A child will engage as a baby and then their brain becomes over loaded and is not able to stay connected. As a parent if that intuitive feeling of your baby ‘needing a break’ becomes a fear of not connecting, the relationship or bond may not ever solidify and then both parent and child pull away from one another. This can start from a simple action of a child looking towards their parent when they are need of making a connection and a parent looking away from the child instead of meeting the child’s needs. This response happens with very young parents or parents which were subject to abuse themselves.

It is horrifying how many other cases of a more severe abuse, physical, psychological, emotional, sexual abuse occur on a daily basis between families. This abuse may not be the actual parent but a family member and as these events occur the parents may not be supportive of the child and therefore a feeling of not having a safe environment occurs at home; not safe to tell Mom & Dad, nor safe to live in the home. It also may be that the parent knows nothing of the abuse, but the relationship of the parent and child does not allow for that ‘safe communication’. This chronic stressed situation can lead to many different outcomes.

What happens when you do not feel loved or safe as a child?

* Chronic anxiety
* Chronic depression
* Physiological symptoms such as increased heart rate, and cortisol levels go up, decreasing access to important areas of the brain
* The person develops a ‘self-loathing’ characteristic or a feeling of being unworthy of love
* They have a difficulty regulating their emotions…they become angry, sad, Jealous, fearful and unable to turn these emotions off or down, sometimes looking like a bipolar effect
* Unable to ‘attach’ to another human being, a lack of empathy (knowing what someone else is feeling)
* They create a ‘wall’ or must ‘disassociate’ from others

To feel worthy of love, to learn from new experiences, to learn from your own past experiences an area of the brain within the Prefrontal Cortex will be engaged. If this area is not accessible due to childhood experiences that lead to trauma then people misinterpret, they do not perceive others or themselves accurately.

How this plays out in life:

* Increased autoimmune disorders
* Obesity
* More sexual active at younger ages (encouraging sexual relationships but discouraging gender-peer social interactions
* Lack the ability to concentrate or pay attention (more ADHD in this group)
* Severe Anger management (Oppositional Defiance Disorder)
* Self-Inflicted pain, cutting, biting or puncturing/ burning themselves
* Eating disorders, bulimic, anorexic, or soul comforting foods making themselves malnourished
* Addictions, alcohol, drugs, sex etc…
* Disorganized and confused
* Cognitive concerns, problem solving, reasoning, deduction skills, critical thinking, speed processing

Do you wonder if you have a developmental trauma disorder…try taking this simple checklist

Finding Your ACE Score

While you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life:
1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often…
Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you?
or
Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often…
Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you?
or
Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever…
Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way?
or
Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

4. Did you often or very often feel that …
No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special?
or
Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

5. Did you often or very often feel that …
You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you?
or
Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed
it?
Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

7. Was your mother or stepmother:
Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her?
or
Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard?
or
Ever repeatedly hit at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?
Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?
Yes No If yes enter 1 ________

10. Did a household member go to prison?
Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _______ This is your ACE Score.

If you are interested in knowing what these results mean, please contact me back channel or contact your mental health provider for results. (drldelong@cognitive-connections.com)

What worries me…is we have a huge population of children growing into adults that are doing horrific acts, ending up in jail, being put on drugs and perpetuating the cycle of neglect and abuse and research now shows it may be due to the way these children were treated before the age of 10. Bessel van der Kolk, http://www.traumacenter.org/products/pdf_files/Networker.pdf

Please love your babies…hold your children…be attentive to them, truly listen to them and respect and regard their opinions. They will not only be caring for you as you grow older but they will be making decisions based on their past experiences. Give them GREAT, caring, loving experiences.

Just another thought by Dr. Lise’