by Harvey A. Rosenstock,
M.D., CGP, FAGPA,
Emeritus F.A.C. Psych
Although researchers knew of Neurotherapy, a form of Biofeedback, even before the 1950’s, it is only in the most recent years that there has been a swell of interest in this cutting edge treatment modality.
What is Neurotherapy?
Neurotherapy is a fun, non-invasive, and painless training technique for teaching the brain to enhance certain frequencies and reduce others. For example, one common protocol for the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder is to teach a child to increase Lobeta waves of 12-15 Hertz while reducing HiBeta waves of 20-30 Hertz at a specific locus on top of the front part of the head (favorably affecting activity in the frontal lobes).
Who benefits from Neurotherapy?
The population that may be appropriate for Neurotherapy ranges in age from six years to senior adults. A wide variety of diagnoses may be helped with the therapy (see list below).
How does it work/what is the technique?
A child or an adult has sensors clipped to the ear lobes and a sensor attached to the scalp using a mild electro-paste. These sensors feed information about the brain wave activity to a computer. A specific protocol is selected to address and help the individual’s problem.
At the same time, the patient is invited to watch a computer monitor, which might display video games, or, perhaps, photos or videos of interesting places or sights to visit. Or, alternatively, one might choose to watch a piano or other instrument(s) play a favorite popular or classic musical selection. Through trial and error (operant conditioning) the brain finds the desired responses, which are reinforced by sights and sounds, provided by the equipment.
How long does a session take?
An average session may last from 30 to 60 minutes.
What kinds of problems can Neurotherapy treat?
Neurotherapy has been used to favorable effect in the treatment of the following conditions:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Depressive Symptoms
- Peak Performance Training
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Substance Abuse Disorders
- Concentration enhancement
- Memory enhancement
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Post-stroke Rehabilitation
Other specialists, such as urologists, have used Neurotherapy, also with impressive results, with one example being for the non-surgical treatment of female urinary incontinence.
Customized treatment protocols developed for individual patients are based on analyzing brain maps, which are acquired by taking readings from sensors placed all over the scalp.
How many sessions are needed?
Generally, results can be appreciated in ten to twenty sessions. In some cases, as little as eight sessions may bring about the desired results. For example, Neurotherapy has been used successfully to lower the amount of prescribed medicine for ADD (ADHD) patients, and, in some cases, obviate the need for medication altogether.
How long do the results last?
This varies with individuals. The literature indicates that the results can last years.
What are the costs?
An average session may cost approximately $125-$150. There are some exceptions.
Are there other forms of cutting-edge Neurofeedback?
There are newer applications. One example is Surface EMG, used for treating muscle spasm and the bruxism associated with temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) problems. Another is Hemo-Encephalography Near Infrared (HEGNIR), which, in the biofeedback way, helps an individual encourage more oxygen-rich blood to the frontal areas of the brain when this activity is desired and beneficial. HEGNIR resembles a headband; it emits a near infrared signal and analyzes the returning signal, then feeds the information into the connected computer to begin the feedback loop.
Accessibility – How Do I Find a Practitioner, and what will my first visit be like?
My office, among others, will first do a regular psychiatric evaluation, establish a working diagnosis, and then construct a treatment plan. Neurotherapy may be selected as the main thrust of treatment or adjunctively along with medication and Individual Psychotherapy and/or Group Psychotherapy. In many instances, it is possible to start Neurotherapy at the time of the initial visit. Subsequent Neurotherapy Sessions do not usually require a concomitant session with the treating psychiatrist.
What Training is required of a biofeedback therapist?
There is an extensive “Blueprint” of training expected before one is sufficiently trained to do Neurotherapy. Please refer to References (below).
More detailed information about Neurotherapy can be found on the Brainmaster website (BRAINMASTER.COM) and on EEGVERMONT.COM and EEGINFO.COM. Please see reference list below for relevant and very informative books on Neurofeedback.
Holten, V. “Bio-and Neurofeedback Applications in Stress Regulation.” Neuroscience & Cognition, Track Behavioural Neuroscience, Central Militair Hospital Utrecht (Master Thesis).
Moore, N.C. (2005). The Neurotherapy of Anxiety Disorders. Journal of Adult Development, 12(2) and 12(3).
Peniston, E.G. (1998). The Peniston-Kulkoshy Brainwave Neurofeedback Therapeutic Protocol: The Future Psychotherapy for Alcoholism/PTSD/Behavioral Medicine. The American Academy Experts in Traumatic Stress, Inc.
Peniston, E.G., & Kulkosky, P.J. (1991). Alpha-Theta Brainwave Neuro-Feedback for Vietnam Veterans with Combat Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Medical Psychotherapy, 4, 47-60.
Peniston, E.G., Marrianan, D.A., Deming, W.A., Kulkosky, P.J. (1993). EEG Alpha-Theta Brainwave Synchronization in Vietnam Theater Veterans with Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Alcohol Abuse. Advances in Medical Psychotherapy, 6, 37-50.
Further Recommended Reading on Neurotherapy:
Demos, J.N. (2005). Getting Started With Neurotherapy. W.W. Norton & Co.
Budzynski, T.H., Evans, J.R., & Abarbanel, A. (Eds.) (2009). Introduction to Quantitative EEG and Neurofeedback, Advanced Theory and Applications. Elsevier/Academic Press.
Evans, J.R. (Ed.) (2009). Handbook of Neurofeedback, Dynamics and Clinical Applications. Informa Healthcare.
Hill, R.W. & Castro, E. (2002). Getting Rid of Ritalin, How Neurofeedback Can Successfully Treat Attention Deficit Disorder Without Drugs. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.
Hill, R.W. & Castro, E. (2009). Healing Young Brains, The Neurofeedback Solution, Drug Free Treatment for Childhood Disorders Including Autism, ADHD, Depression, and Anxiety. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.
Robbins, J. (2008). A Symphony In The Brain. New York: Grove Press.
Steinberg, M. & Seigfried, O. (2004). ADD, The 20-Hour Solution, Training Minds to Concentrate and Self-Regulate Naturally Without Medication. Robert D. Reed Publishers.
Dr. Rosenstock is Board Certified in Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Today Dr. Rosenstock is in private practice in Bellaire, TX, specializing in adult, adolescent, child and family psychiatry with the Rosenstock Clinic (website:http://rosenstockclinic.net/). He offers individual as well as group therapy. He sees many children and adults diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder both for psychopharmacology and therapy as needed. Dr. Rosenstock’s hobbies are quite varied. He is a student of languages and is fluent in Spanish, among others, and enjoys singing in his Synagogue Choir. He believes in the value of exercise and goes to the gym several times a week.