Neurofeedback has been around since the early 1970's. The 1st generation, called linear systems, measures 2 criteria (frequency and amplitude) and nudges the brain into a frequency clinicians believe it should be in. Neuroptimal® Neurofeedback was developed in 2000 by Drs. Susan and Valdeane Brown and is considered the 2nd generation of Neurofeedback. The Browns believed the linear systems were too confining and did not accurately measure and influence the dynamic nature of the Central Nervous System. They believed the Central Nervous System was dynamical, with no balance and that there was always movement. They believed what is important is the ability to move about, and in and out of states at will. Linear systems measure 2 things – amplitude and freq. The NeurOptimal® Dynamical Neurofeedback® system they developed looks at time and shifts as well, doubling the criteria linear systems use. A linear system always has side effects as it is pushing you. Dynamical systems have no side effects as they are not pushing you into a state, but rather helping the brain become resilient and flexible.
So How Does NeurOptimal® Brain Training Work?
NeurOptimal® measures the brain's electrical activity 256x/sec and is monitoring four different criteria - Duration, Intensity, Frequency, and Shift. When the software detects that a change in brain activity is about to occur, it alerts the brain to this change so that it can decide whether to do anything about it. That alert comes in the form of a pause in music that the trainee is listening to. Hearing is one of our primary senses for safety, awareness, and danger. This brief pause in the music brings the brain back to the present moment where it can reassess its action. Let's face it - we live in a stressful society. Prolonged stress, trauma, injury, illness, disease, and life can cause the brain to get "sensitized" and become overly reactive, vigilant, and on guard. This makes it difficult for the nervous system to come to its "baseline" of safety, security, calmness, joy, and the ability to sleep and stay asleep. We tend to live more in the fight/flight/freeze zones of an overactive sympathetic nervous system. By alerting the brain when it is jumping into those maladaptive patterns or behaviors, it helps the brain "retrain" those patterns, becoming more flexible, resilient, present, and able to get to a baseline of safety and joy. When the brain does not have to be on "alert", it has so much more capacity for other things like focus, awareness, concentration, slowing down, sleeping, healing, caring, etc.
For more information on NeurOptimal®, click here to go to their website.
What does the research say?
NeurOptimal® is approved by the FDA as a wellness device. It is NOT considered a medical device. The founders did this on purpose as getting approval as a medical device takes a long time, is very costly (with that cost added onto the product), and can limit the utilization of the device to medical providers. Drs. Valdene and Susan Smith wanted Neuroptimal® to be available quickly to anyone who wanted it. They designed NeurOptimal so that it is safe, has no side effects, does not "push" the brain, and the software does all the work - so the variations and inconsistencies associated with a linear Neurofeedback system and the operator are eliminated. The FDA certification allows NeurOptimal® to be used to help manage stress, to promote better sleep, to help improve mental clarity, to help with performance and sports anxiety, to enhance learning capacity, to assist with weight loss goals, to help you become more flexible and resilient, to improve concentration, problem solving, multitasking, logic, for personal transformation and more.
While Zengar® (parent company of NeurOptimal®) has not pursued formal research on NeurOptimal®, there are many trainers and clinicians who have, as well as many personal accounts and testimonials. NeurOptimal® trainers are performing 70,000 sessions/month and over 4,000,000 sessions have been provided worldwide. Neuroptimal® is being used in 76 countries. There are a lot of amazing stories out there. To see the "Research Page" from NeurOptimal®, click here. You can also do a google search on NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback and find lots of testimonials from other trainers' websites.
A survey of trainers with just under 3 million hours of NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback treatments was conducted and below are just a few of the findings:
ADD/ADHD - After 11-20 sessions, 67% of the trainers reported a > than 40% improvement. This increased to 83% of trainers at 20+ sessions. In comparing NeurOptimal® to Ritalin, 76% of clients who had 20 or more sessions of NeruOptimal® showed "Very Much Improvement" while only 44.9% patients on Ritalin showed "Much Improvement". No change was reported in 0% of the NeurOptimal clients, while 26.9% of the Ritalin patients reported No Change.
Addiction - After 11-20 sessions, 51% of trainers reported a > than 40% improvement. This increased to 80% of trainers at 20+ sessions.
Anxiety/Panic Disorders/Phobias - After 11-20 sessions 64% of trainers reported a > than 40% improvement. This increased to 85% at 20+ sessions.
Attention and Focus (not ADD) - After 11-20 sessions 60% of trainers reported a > than 40% improvement. This increased to 67% at 20+ sessions.
Chemo Brain - After 11-20 sessions 92% of trainers reported a > than 40% improvement.
Depression - After 11-20 sessions 72% of trainers reported a > 40% improvement. This increased to 83% at 20+ sessions.
Pain - After 11-20 sessions 51% of trainers reported a > 40% improvement. This increased to 75% at 20+ sessions.
Peak Performance - After 11-20 sessions 74% of trainers reported a >40% improvement. This increased to 83% at 20+ sessions.
PTSD - After 11-20 sessions 66% of trainers reports a > 40% improvement. This increased to 82% at 20+ sessions.
Sleep Problems - After 11-20 sessions, 72% of trainers report a > 40% improvement. This increased to 82% at 20+ sessions.
The 40% or better criteria were selected as 40% improvement is the best result that can be expected from many drugs for many of the complaints evaluated.
Two thirds of trainers reported that the majority of their clients showed 90% or better improvement. Most clients can expect highly significant (80%-90%) improvement. This degree of reported efficacy would be considered in the realm of miraculous in a traditional medical model world, confirming the high quality of training offered by NeurOptimal®. In fact, NeurOptimal® users frequently see changes that are considered impossible within traditional practice models. The full text and results of the survey can be found on this PDF:
Please note that the above results were achieved with an earlier version of the NeurOptimal® software. With advances in computing power, technology, and programming the current version is getting even better results!