Frequently Asked questions
Connectivity Neurofeedback is an advanced form of Neurofeedback that allows the brain to make changes in brain wave patterns across brain regions for better communication in order to develop more functional neuropathways, thereby decreasing symptoms. In simplistic terms, it is exercising the brain to create optimal functioning. Once changes to the EEG are made, research has shown that they are lasting.
To do this an individual is placed in front of a computer screen with leads attached to the head that read EEG activity. Using computerized feedback in the form of a movie or a game, the brain learns to reward or inhibit certain brain waves using operant conditioning. The movie or game is used to provide feedback to the brain that plays when correct brainwaves are produced and stops when they are not. Over time, the reinforcement of correct brainwaves creates new neuropathways.
The brain helps regulate sleep, emotions, cognition, behavior, and much more. The training helps the brain to become better regulated. Since sleep, emotions, cognition and behavior are regulated by the brain, improvements are generally seen after training. Symptom reduction can be marked, and these changes are seen in post training remaps of the brain.
Because the brain has neuroplasticity, when you give the brain information about itself, it has an enormous capacity for change. Connectivity Neurofeedback makes the information available to the brain almost instantly and asks it to make adjustments. This gives the brain a greater ability to self-manage or regulate. Changing the EEG helps in improved activation, inhibition, cortical stability, while impacting regulatory mechanisms such as the thalamocortical loop. These functions are fundamental to brain regulation.
A quantitative electroencephalogram (QEEG), also known as brain mapping, is a non-invasive assessment tool used to measure the electrical (brain wave) activity of the cerebral cortex. The brain wave activity is assessed and analyzed through digital technology, and the collected data is compared to normative databases. These normative databases compare tested subjects with persons of the same age who have been carefully screened and who are free of symptoms in order to measure variance from the norm. In addition, the raw data that is collected is also analyzed. Special tools of analysis are used to look specifically at multivariant coherence data in order to develop correct training parameters.
The number of training sessions depends on the symptom and individual. Typically, some noticeable changes occur between the sixth and tenth session with Connectivity Neurofeedback. Depending on the nature of the problem, a minimum of 20 sessions are generally recommended. Certain situations can require more sessions. The goal is to complete enough training to ensure consistent and lasting benefits. The typical number of sessions for classic ADHD, for example, is 20 sessions to complete. For moderate Autism it may be 40 sessions to get a 50 percent drop in symptoms on average. Because 4-Channel Connectivity Neurofeedback is so powerful, a remapping is done after 10-14 sessions to evaluate the amount of change that has occurred. Changes in training parameters are then made to reflect the new brain patterns and to address current symptoms. Our experience at The Neuroconnection is that once 10-14 sessions are done over a particular region of the brain, these improvements become lasting. A break can be taken between training protocols usually without regression in progress. Length of training sessions are typically about 20 minutes in length, although at times shorter sessions are useful. Typically, two sessions a week are recommended.
The effects tend to generalize. It takes a form of increased stability under demand, greater resilience, and more appropriate state flexibility. The brain is being trained for better self-regulation, which may be most noticeable by an “absence of” problems.
When an individual notes their attention has improved, or they are less angry or anxious, they do not have to remember what they did in Connectivity Neurofeedback. The training generalizes, and the brain – under a high demand situation – has learned to manage itself better.
Yes. Many clients start Connectivity Neurofeedback while on one or more medications. After a number of Connectivity Neurofeedback sessions, the need for a reduction in medications is not unusual. In many case psychotropic medications, such as stimulants used for Attention Deficit, can be eliminated. It is very important that the client’s prescribing physician be alerted that neurofeedback has been started and made aware of the possible need to decrease dosages as the client trains and improves. If that doctor is not open to reducing dosages when presented with signs of overmedication, then training may need to be discontinued.
How do these changes occur? It is well known that the EEG changes with medication. The EEG also changes during Connectivity Neurofeedback, so it’s not surprising that changes in medications may be necessary. The theory is that as the brain works more efficiently with Connectivity Neurofeedback the medication has a stronger effect on a more efficient brain. Therefore, in many cases psychotropic medications can be reduced or eliminated.
Not every patient’s medications are affected. For some patients, Connectivity Neurofeedback seems to act synergistically with medications, allowing the medications to achieve a better response, or stabilizing the use of meds. Connectivity Neurofeedback is complementary to other treatment approaches and may help them be more effective.
Neurofeedback seldom causes side effects, however, when it does, they are transient as long as they are not continuously reinforced, More common side effects are fatigue following sessions, slight changes in sleep, and irritability. Typically, side effects wear off quickly and the next training session can be adjusted. Monitoring changes and adjusting protocols is part of the responsibility of the trained neurofeedback professional. To avoid side effects, the staff check client’s response to the previous session before training.
This is a complex question that involves many factors. Just as any therapy or training vary in effectiveness based on the practitioners training and knowledge and the clients specific presenting problems, this same thing is true of Connectivity Neurofeedback training. In addition, client compliance also plays a big role. Lack of consistency in training may cause treatment failures.
There are many sites to train on the brain and many different frequencies to choose from. Training each can have a different effect on the client. Choosing the right one – (like choosing the right medication) can require a mix of skill, knowledge and patience to identify responsiveness.
At times, such as when environmental stressors are involved Therapists report that doing Connectivity Neurofeedback without addressing underlying family system or situation stressors can also reduce the effectiveness of using Connectivity Neurofeedback. In these types of scenarios, combining psychotherapy with Connectivity Neurofeedback appears to be a more effective solution.
Defining “benefit” is also at times, a challenge. Does it require 100% symptom resolution of the presenting problem? Is partial symptom resolution a success? Expectations for each set of 10-14 session sets are discussed by The Neuroconnection staff with parents to ensure parents’ understanding of the area of training and its correlation with their child’s symptoms.