What is NeurOptimal?
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s remarkable capacity to change its neural pathways and synapses due to certain factors, like behaviour, environment, or neural processes. The brain engages in synaptic pruning, by deleting the neural connections that it no longer finds necessary or useful, and strengthening the necessary ones.
NeurOptimal brain training has been designed to assist this process to happen faster, more effectively and 100% naturally. Electroencephalography (EEG) is used to measure the electrical activity generated by the Central Nervous System and then relay it back to the brain through audio feedback. This neurofeedback enables the brain to recognise when it is not performing to its optimal level, thereby assisting its natural process of self-regulating and finetuning towards reaching peak performance.
Is NeurOptimal safe?
NeurOptimal is extremely safe and can be used on children and adults alike, no matter age or physical condition.
Are there any side effects?
Any effects felt during a session or soon after are a response by your central nervous system to the challenge of training. Although the sessions may feel relaxing, your brain is actually working very hard. Neurofeedback is like going to a gym for the brain. Once you start training, old patterns are stirred up and challenged, which may cause some discomfort for a short time, until the brain and central nervous system learn to release and rebalance naturally and with ease. For example, you may experience any of the following symptoms: tiredness, sleep disruption the night of your session, headache (due to dehydration), sleeping during the session, awareness of discomfort in the body often associated with old injuries or yawning after your session. These effects, if they occur, are temporary and usually disappear in the hours following the session and generally stop appearing after a few sessions as the central nervous system becomes stronger, more flexible and more resilient. Please feel free to contact your dedicated Neurofeedback Practitioner to discuss anything that concerns you along the way. Neurofeedback is merely providing information that your brain uses to do its own organising, so even if symptoms do increase and are stirred up for a short time, it is a question of comfort while the brain adjusts itself, not safety.
What ages do you train?
NeurOptimal can be used safely to train anyone at any age.
Who will benefit from NeurOptimal?
Since NeurOptimal is not meant to treat any condition but train your brain, it can benefit anyone who has a brain, including your beloved animals! The most popular categories of use are:
- wellness and personal growth, (including but not limited to sleep management, focus, self-discipline, motivation, stress management, decision making, fatigue, communication skills, reactivity, problem solving, adaptability)
- enhancing academic performance
- enhancing artistic or athletic performance
- help with emotional and physical challenges (including but not limited to anxiety, depression, ADHD, learning disabilities, balance, special awareness, anger, overwhelm)
- cognitive function (learning, reading, mental clarity, focus, concentration, memory, age related cognitive decline, social anxiety)
Do I need a diagnosis or do you make one?
No, you do not need a diagnosis nor do we make one. For example, a client with diagnosed anxiety disorder, a client with undiagnosed ADHD and a professional athlete training for enhanced performance, will all receive the exact same brain training.
What happens in a session?
Each session consists of 32 minutes of brain training as well as pre and post session evaluations. While you relax on a comfortable recliner in a quiet and private room, your NeurOptimal certified brain trainer will attach delicate, non-evasive sensors to your scalp and ears. Highly dynamic electrical brainwave activity will be measured from the surface area of your brain and relayed to the NeurOptimal software which then “talks” to your brain through relaxing music played back to you through your personal headphones. Through this feedback system, the detected brain shifts or “flutters” will be presented to your brain as audio interrupts or “glitches” in the music. These “glitches” give your brain the feedback it needs to start the process of its training towards improved performance and resilience. Nothing other than audio feedback is being input into your brain and since your own brain knows best how to organise itself, we leave it to your brain to do just that, freeing you up to use your 32 minutes in whatever way you value most. As long as connection between you and our Neuroptimal program is maintained, you are free to either catch up on work, read your favourite book, or even doze off if you so choose. Yes, it’s that easy!
How many sessions do I need
With NeurOptimal, your brain is allowed to engage in the brain training process in its own unique way. Though this means there is no fixed way to predict what the specific benefits would be or how many sessions it would take for you to experience results, it does mean that your brain is neither pushed nor pulled in any direction, but rather optimally supported in its own natural process of organising itself. Some clients notice benefits after the first few sessions, but most clients usually feel better and find life more manageable physically and/or emotionally after 10-20 sessions. Our standard recommendation is to start with a package of 10 sessions, and thereafter you and your trainer will assess any further needs. Depending on the individual situation, we offer follow up packages of 5 or 10 sessions, or even single top-up sessions as required. For the select group of clients where long-term training is most beneficial, we suggest considering a Neuroptimal rental for home use or even purchasing your own system. We don’t currently have units for rent, but hope to offer a rental service in the near future.
How often would I need to train?
Southwest NeuroCare offers training as often as you would like within our hours of service (there really is no frequency that is too often), but our general recommendation is to aim for training at least once a week. For those who want faster results, we suggest training twice a week for at least the first 4-6 sessions. FIFO workers can successfully train a few days in a row once every three weeks or less. Basically, any frequency of training is better than not training at all, so we are available to consult with you in order to work out a program that best suits your needs.
How do you measure if it is working for me?
At your first session, you will be given a checklist of 100 symptoms that could potentially benefit from NeurOptimal treatment. You would then be asked to select the top 5 concerns that we would then monitor over the period of your training. Any shifts in duration, frequency and intensity of these 5 concerns would be re-evaluated after every 10 sessions.
How long do the benefits last?
Brain training with NeurOptimal is much like learning any new skill, whether reading or riding a bicycle. Once your brain has learnt the skill and “cemented” the brain pathways through use and repetition, it is yours for life unless affected by for example, aging or trauma, whether physical or emotional. So too it is with NeurOptimal. The training that your brain undergoes becomes part of you, yet exposed to influences around us. Top-up sessions can often benefit and help your brain return to that optimal place.
Will my medication affect my response?
Taking medication will not negatively affect your brain training. If you are taking medication for It is important though, to let your doctor know about your brain training, since he is the one that will be handling any decisions in that regard.
Is NeurOptimal the same as the linear neurofeedback developed in the 1970’s?
Yes and no. Yes, because both systems provide neurofeedback; No, because NeurOptimal is not a first-generation linear feedback system, but a second-generation non-linear neurofeedback system. With the older linear neurofeedback technology, a map (QEEG) is taken of the brain’s electrical activity and then compared to brains of people closely matching in age and gender. A practitioner will then decide on a training protocol where a reward/punishment system is used to “adjust” the brain to better match “normal”/neurotypical brains. This means your brain is purposefully “pushed” or “pulled” in a direction with a specific outcome in mind. The concern with this strategy, is that it is very dependent on the practitioner’s skill, level of experience and ability to not “pull” or “push” your brain too little or too much. Either of these can leave you feeling worse than before training. Training also relies on costly QEEG’s in order to regularly measure your brain according to the desired outcome.
NeurOptimal however, is based on non-linear neurofeedback technology. This dynamic approach to brain training has been made possible since computer processing speeds have been able to approach that of the brain. Using highly specialised mathematical equations, NeurOptimal software relays audio feedback to the brain at a speed of hundreds of data points per second. This real-time feedback means that a “mirror” is held up to the brain, increasing its ability to “see” its own ingrained choices or habits thereby supporting its own ability to make different choices. Any brain, with or without diagnosis or condition, can therefor benefit. Furthermore, results are not reliant on practitioner skill or client effort. Over a period of training sessions, the learning that takes place results in the most natural and efficient use of the brain’s energy and ability organise itself. Once the data has repeatedly been used to replace maladaptive habitual responses, it results in improved mental and emotional wellbeing – all done at each individual brain’s own pace and in its own way.
What if it doesn’t work?
Neurofeedback is a highly effective way to regulate brain function and it is very rare that clients do not progress or not experience changes. However, if you find your training is not progressing as desired after 6 sessions, we can look at whatever external factors (intrinsic constraints or stressors) may be interrupting your progress. These may include things like a baby in the house, starting a new job, difficulties with different personalities at work – and we may implement other strategies to assist. This is when adding counselling to your program may be useful for which we accommodate at no additional cost.