A frequently question we get at our neurofeedback clinic in NYC is: who can benefit from the training? One answer is: everyone can. Or anyone under stress. Why? NeurOptimal improves the overall functioning of the brain and therapists know that the issue with mental health is that the brain gets habituated to maladaptive patterns. The most common being the stress response.
Can the brain change its bad habits?
Thankfully what I was taught in neuropsychology class in college 25 years ago - that the brain is a fixed system – we now know is wrong. We were taught that if you lose functioning because of a concussion or stroke you’re not going to get it back. We have advanced a lot since then and now we all know the brain is plastic (neuroplasticity) but what it needs is to improve its functioning is good information. That's where neurofeedback comes in...
The Stress Response 3 Zones
Here’s a graph of the dynamics of the brain and the stress response.
In Zone 1 and Zone 3 the stress response is ruling our decision making. We have a hard time being present but instead fixate on the past and future.
In Zone 1 we feel: unsafe, have mental ruminations, lack focus when we need it, feel scattered, feel anxious, worried, want to flee social situations, feel overwhelmed and are easy to anger and feel attacked by others. Disorders of Zone 1: insomnia, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, PTSD, and ADHD.
In Zone 3 we also feel unsafe but are often too numb to realize it. It's marked by feeling hopeless, powerless and down about life. We have a hard time connecting with others, want to shut ourselves off, and can socially isolate and sleep too much. "Why bother?" is a common attitude when we're stuck in Zone 3. Disorders of Zone 3: Depression, Dysthimia, Disassociation, the depressive response in PTSD. And addictions can come out of the cycling between Zones 1 and 3.
When our brain is healthy it will stay most of the time in Zone 2. Life feels workable and relatively safe. We are able to engage with others, use logic to think things through. Pause when we need to and engage in activities that keep us healthy. We sleep better, can laugh at our silly mistakes, and not take the world quiet so seriously. We can also shift gears and focus when needed, organize our tasks to prevent being overwhelmed.
Habits form and we get stuck. But the Central Nervous System is not meant to be stuck, it’s a dynamical, non-linear information processing system. The problem is that it’s not registering what the here-and-now needs are.
NeurOptimal comes in. It trains the brain to live, as much as possible, in Zone 2. The brain wants information that will allow it to optimize it’s functioning, to get out of the fight/flight, freeze response. Or whatever it’s doing that is not in alignment with here-and-now needs. And when the brain has trained 30 times over a few months it has learned a new process. Depending on stressors will either be able to stay in regulation or will start to wobble.
Unlike protocol-based systems such as EEGer or BrainPaint that are using a brain map or normative data to decide how to create that re-regulation of the brain the NeurOptimal (NO) system is based on how the brain truly functions, which is that give it the information and it will re-regulate itself. We’re measuring the activity of the brain 256 times/ second about it’s electrical behaviour. The parameters of change are set by the emergent brain not by an external trainer (as is with protocol).
Feeling calmer, greater mental clarity, like the windshield wiper just cleaned off that bug smeared glass, greater sense of workability. Less anxious, better organzing skills, ability to delay gratification, less impulsive anger, acting out, lighter, more cheerful.
About NeurOptimal Neurofeedback
NeurOptimal Neurofeedback is a game-changer in how family systems operate
- Communication shifts from reactive/defensive to openness and exchange of information.
- CNS all come into regulation making it harder for one system to go into disregulation.
NeurOptimal Neurofeedback helps stabilize mood so that decision-making can be a response rather than a reaction.
- Decisions happen from gathering information, (information not experienced as a threat), planning and delayed gratification,
- There is heightened ability to have insight because the CNS isn’t as reactive so therefore can actually see and understand contributing factors.
NeurOptimal Neurofeedback helps with decreasing substance use for re-regulating the brain.
- It alerts the brain when it’s going into hyper or hypo arousal and helps it re-regulate, making it so patients brains don’t “ask” for drugs, food or alcohol.
NeurOptimal Neurofeedback helps with school performance.
- For patients who have ADHD/ADD as a contributing factor in their addiction, this kind of neurofeedback training helps not just with the craving and triggers, but also with overall executive functioning. Their school performance will improve which helps with self-esteem and resiliency.
Next step? We provide both sessions and home system rentals at our locations in New York, Los Angeles (Pasadena) and Colorado. Our team members in NYC and LA are available for a free consultation to discuss whether it's right for you.