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Dr. Clare Albright has taken what can often be a complex subject-neurofeedback- and described it in a way that not only makes it easy for anyone to understand, but shows you how you can use brain biofeedback to make ADD/ADHD a thing of the past.
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Neurofeedback Transforming Your Life With Brain Biofeedback
By Clare Albright
BECKWORTH PUBLICATIONSCopyright © 2010 Dr. Clare Albright, Psy.D., CA Licensed Psychologist PSY 11660
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhat are People Saying About Neurofeedback?
"All truth passes through three stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." -Schopenhauer
Imagine that one day, while you are out driving through a part of town you've never been to before, that you see man placing two large objects out in the front yard of an old run down house.
Curious, you pull over to watch and see what he's up to. Having noticed that you are watching, he motions for you to come join him. As you walk into the yard, he explains that he has just purchased the house, and is about to have the house fix and repair itself. In front of him, there is a large picture and a big full-length mirror.
He tells you, "Okay, I'm going to hold up the mirror so the house can see how it looks now, in its run down condition. At the same time, I'm going to hold up a picture that shows how the house once looked, just a few months after it was built, and still in tip top condition. By being able to see the changes as it is repairing itself, and, simultaneously having clear picture of what it will look like when it's done, the house can make all of the needed changes, all by itself!"
Would you like to be able to have your home repair itself, naturally transforming and coming back to tip top shape? Me too. Unfortunately, a house can't do that. However, the human brain can.
Before I go much further, I'd like to address a couple of questions that many people like you might have after having just read a statement like "The human brain can repair itself."
Here are the questions:
If this is true, and this neurofeedback stuff can get my brain to repair itself, why haven't I heard about it?
Why hasn't it been all over the news and in magazines?
Those are both great questions, and, I have a couple of really good answers.
First, neurofeedback has been written about by most of the top publications, and featured on many of the most popular television news shows. Time Magazine, ABC News, CBS, NBC, Fox News, Scientific American, and Psychology Today, just to name a few. They have all written or talked about the virtues of neurofeedback.
The main reason, I believe, that many people have not heard about neurofeedback, is that it simply gets lost in the shuffle of the almost unlimited number of sensationalized stories. Like it, or not, "feel good" stories don't sell nearly as well as the tragic ones. So, it's easy to only notice and remember the stories that evoke fear, and then miss many of the stories like those that look at a case study of someone who has been helped by neurofeedback, for example.
The second reason someone might have not yet heard about neurofeedback, is that, as I write, neurofeedback is not yet being taught in most medical schools or psychology programs.
Many people find it surprising to learn that only in recent years have medical students been required to take classes about nutrition. I think you'll agree: it's not that good nutrition wasn't important before they started being required to learn more about it in medical school, but it's just a simple matter of it not being a primary concern of most physicians before that time. As a result, you didn't hear nearly as much about it.
I don't remember any mention of neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback as it is also called, from my time in graduate school. In many professions the latest improvements are learned by those newest to the field. In order for me to learn how to provide neurofeedback, I had to take time off work to attend continuing education classes. Then, I had to hire mentors, and pay them an hourly rate, to supervise me when first used the neurofeedback machine.
The costs of taking time off of work, attending days of continuing education, hiring supervisors, and purchasing expensive equipment and software is one of the reasons that neurofeedback has not become more well known.
Even as I write, the wave of excitement about the seemingly unlimited benefits of neurofeedback is rolling faster, and building more momentum with each passing day. The "masses" will have the opportunity to benefit only after neurofeedback becomes a household name. You don't have to wait, though. By the time you have finished reading this book, you will have a better understanding of neurofeedback, how it works, and what it can be used for, than almost anyone else around you. Neurofeedback is not a cure-all; while you will find there to be a very diverse number of conditions for which neurofeedback can assist you in producing what can seem like, at times, miraculous results, there are also a large number of challenges for which neurofeedback would be of little help.
I'd also like to point out, that at the current time, there are still conditions that medication is still the most effective treatment available.
With that being said, the current research on neurofeedback shows that unlike treatment with a pharmaceutical intervention, where the medication will have to be taken for long periods of time - perhaps for a lifetime-to be free from the symptoms or challenges of a particular condition, neurofeedback can often be stopped after 30-40 sessions, with the patient remaining symptom free for decades. For some people, this alone makes neurofeedback a very compelling consideration.
I decided to write this book because I wanted to make the exciting possibilities of neurofeedback known to more people. I wanted to write a book that explained neurofeedback in terms that people could understand. I decided to use 'word pictures' to explain some of the complicated concepts surrounding EEG neurofeedback.
Chapter TwoThe Fly is on the Wall..... Observing a Neurofeedback Session
"All human evil comes from a single cause, man's inability to sit still in a room." -Blaise Pascal
John Doe is a 36 year old man who has been referred to Dr. Albright for neurofeedback sessions. He enjoys his job as an engineer in the aerospace industry. "I've had trouble focusing all of my life, Dr. Albright. I am amazed that I've had this much success while having ADD. I've struggled with Attention Deficit Disorder since I started the first grade."
John has already been diagnosed with ADD by another psychologist, who gave him a full battery of tests, which included checklists that both John and his wife filled out. Both of them checked off words to describe John from the list such as 'distractible', 'impulsive', 'short attention span', and 'restless'.
Dr. Albright sits down in her comfortable, maroon leather office chair and begins to interview John, discussing the final report on John's testing that she received from the other psychologist. Dr. Albright's office looks like any other counseling office except for the small, grey neurofeedback machine on the desk. The neurofeedback machine's dimensions are 6" x 6", and 2" thick.
"Here in the neurofeedback office we administer a 15 minute test of attentiveness called a 'Continuous Performance Test', or 'CPT' for short."
The CPT, is a small white device that looks a lot like a small 'Game Boy' video game. John holds the device for about 15 minutes and is instructed to click the device whenever an 'X' appears. This is John's baseline score for attention versus inattention.
One of the tests that John brought with him to Dr. Albright's office is his QEEG (Quantitative EEG) Brain Map. This map shows Dr. Albright which parts of John's brain have abnormally low brainwave activity and which parts have abnormally high brain wave activity.
Based on the QEEG brain map results, Dr. Albright knows where to place the leads on John's scalp for the first session. The QEEG brain map report looks like a picture of 19 heads drawn on a piece of paper with different colors on each of the heads to signify the level of brainwave activity. Each 'head' drawn in the report represents a different part of John's scalp where a brainwave reading was taken.
It takes 5 minutes for Dr. Albright to get the leads in place on John's scalp.
First Dr. Albright shows John a 'Pac Man' type of neurofeedback game on her computer screen. She begins to explain:
"In order to help your brainwaves to get to the normal range, there is going to be a reward signal from the computer whenever your brainwave activity moves closer to the normal range. The software signals your brain that it is moving towards the normal range with these reward tone sounds and with these games.
One of the rewards is that this 'Pac Man' will move around the Pac Man game board and 'eat the dots'. If your brainwaves don't move closer to the normal range, then the Pac Man will stay motionless and it won't be 'eating the dots'."
John begins to laugh as he watches the Pac Man move around the game board gobbling up the dots.
Dr. Albright continues, "I have the neurofeedback machine set up to be training several different brainwave patterns at once. Since you have an ADD diagnosis, we are encouraging the brainwaves that are used in focusing, which are called 'Beta' waves, by setting up the Pac Man to move when your Beta waves are increasing in frequency. We also set up the Pac Man to move when your relaxed brainwaves, or the 'Alpha' brainwaves, decrease in frequency."
Dr. Albright begins to show John several different games in her neurofeedback software collection. In one game, John notices that a spaceship flies through space whenever his brainwaves move closer to the normal range. In another game his brainwaves are rewarded by filling a jar with marbles when his brainwaves respond in the right direction. In a fourth game his brain is rewarded by a photo of a Golden Retriever becoming more visible each time his brainwaves move in the right direction.
The last part of the neurofeedback software that Dr. Albright shows John is a DVD player. She explains to John that "when your brainwaves move in the right direction the movie will appear on the screen and start playing. When your brainwaves are not responding in the right direction the movie will slow down and stop and the screen will fade out."
Dr. Albright shows John that the DVD inside of the player was one of the movies that John had brought with him to the session entitled 'The Bourne Identity'.
John starts laughing as he watches the beginning of the movie. He says "my brain is controlling my favorite movie. This is very motivating, Doc. How can I try harder so I get to see the whole movie?"
Dr. Albright chuckles and replies, "The amazing thing about neurofeedback is that your brain is doing all of the work. All you need to do is to allow yourself to observe the screen."
"That makes no sense, Doc. Isn't there any way that I can help this along? I'm a motivated client," John replied.
"It helps if you eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep. During the neurofeedback sessions your brain will actually be doing the work all on its own," Dr. Albright answers.
John starts to scrunch up his face and his fists are clenched. The movie screen turns black and the movie soundtrack stops playing.
"O.K. Doc, I can see you're right. All of this effort is causing the opposite of what I want to happen with this movie."
At the end of the session Dr. Albright explains, "As your brain produces more and more of the correct type of brainwaves, I will re-adjust the settings on the neurofeedback software. It is similar to what an instructor does in the weight room when he wants to train an athlete to use bigger weights. The athlete may have started out only able to lift 150 lbs. with his legs, but by the end of training he may be able to lift 250 lbs. with his legs.
In the same way, I will be continually raising the settings on the neurofeedback machine as you attend more and more 'workout' sessions for your brain. Yes, some people do call neurofeedback brainwave sessions 'exercise'.
After enough sessions have passed, I will re-administer a simple version of the QEEG brain map test. I believe that your brain map will then show a normal amount of brainwave activity throughout your brain.
When the brain map looks normal, the symptoms that brought you to neurofeedback should be greatly diminished."
Dr. Albright removes the leads from John's scalp. As he leaves the office, John says, "That wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. I actually enjoyed the session."
Chapter ThreeAmazing Research Outcomes
The way to do research is to attack the facts at the point of the greatest astonishment. -Celia Green
Neurofeedback has been quite impressive in one study after another. In fact, in studies conducted in its use for ADHD and ADD, it was rated as having a 'level 5 research outcome'.
What does that mean? Perhaps the best way to describe the results of neurofeedback in the research that has been conducted thus far is to briefly explain the lowest level (level one) and the highest level (level five) of the five possible outcomes in a research study.
First, I will give the professional "text book" definition, followed by the "common household language" translation.
(Forgive me if I incorporate a little humor; we tend to remember things that are "odd" or "funny" more effectively.)
Level 1: Not empirically supported:
Level 1 means 'Mere Opinion' that the treatment is effective:
The effectiveness of the treatment is supported only by personal stories and/or case studies in non-peer reviewed venues.
Common Household Language Translation of a Level 1 rating of effectiveness:
Your Aunt Margaret tells you that rubbing maple syrup on warts will make them go away.
She's never tried it, and only knows about it because her Aunt Ruth told her about it when she was little.
Meanwhile, Uncle Charlie is claiming that baby powder will make warts go away.
What does this mean? It means that at this point, your Uncle Charlie's claim is on equal ground with that of your Aunt Margaret; there is no "proof" of either remedy working. They are simply "Old Wives Tales" and little more than that, in terms of credibility and proven effectiveness.
Level 5: Efficacious and Specific:
(Efficacious and Specific=Successful AND Specific)
The investigational treatment has been shown to be statistically superior to credible sham therapy (also known as placebo treatment), pill, or alternative bona fide treatment in at least two independent research settings.
Common Household Language Translation: Your Aunt Margaret is a trained research scientist, who has conducted a study that showed maple syrup to be far more effective than a capsule with flour inside, a well known over the counter wart remover,
and a popular antiviral wart pill often prescribed by physicians. Another researcher, in a separate study, conducted by a different University, found the very same thing as your Aunt Margaret and her team of researchers.
Make no mistake about it, many lives have been changed - both the lives of people with ADHD and ADD and their family members - by prescription drugs like Ritalin, Straterra and Adderall, just to name a few.
As well as some people do with certain prescription drugs, the results typically last only as long as the person is compliant, and takes their medication as prescribed. This is just one of the many areas where using neurofeedback differs from other methods of treatment.
Studies have shown, time and again, that someone with ADHD or ADD who has been successfully treated with neurofeedback will continue to enjoy the benefits of those changes long after the treatment has ended. Some even argue, and research hints, that the changes may be permanent.
Furthermore, studies have also shown that neurofeedback is very effective for treating depression when used in conjunction with psychotherapy, and eliminated migraines in over 80% of those who were treated with this powerful new tool.
In the next chapter, we'll take a look at both the "pros" and "cons" of using neurofeedback.
Excerpted from Neurofeedback Transforming Your Life With Brain Biofeedback by Clare Albright Copyright © 2010 by Dr. Clare Albright, Psy.D., CA Licensed Psychologist PSY 11660. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: What are People Saying About Neurofeedback?....................1
Chapter 2: The Fly is on the Wall - Observing a Neurofeedback Session....................7
Chapter 3: Amazing Research Outcomes....................13
Chapter 4: What Are the Pros and Cons?....................17
Chapter 5: What in the World is a QEEG?....................21
Chapter 6: What Will My Neurofeedback Session Be Like?....................25
Chapter 7: Neurofeedback for ADD and ADHD....................31
Chapter 8: Assessing ADD/ADHD with Checklists and a Continuous Performance Test....................35
Chapter 9: How Does Treating ADD/ADHD with Drugs Compare with Neurofeedback?....................39
Chapter 10: Neurofeedback for Anxiety and Panic Disorder....................43
Chapter 11: Neurofeedback for Migraines....................47
Chapter 12: Neurofeedback for Depression....................51
Chapter 13: Neurofeedback for Bipolar Disorder....................55
Chapter 14: Neurofeedback for Epilepsy....................59
Chapter 15: Neurofeedback for Autism and Aspergers....................63
Chapter 16: Neurofeedback for Treating Tourette's Syndrome....................66
Chapter 17: Neurofeedback for Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities....................73
Chapter 18: Neurofeedback for Treating Sensory Integration Disorder....................77
Chapter 19: Neurofeedback Training for Treating Reactive Attachment Disorder....................79
Chapter 20: Neurofeedback for Parkinson's Disease....................83
Chapter 21: Neurofeedback for Symptoms of Menopause, Pre-Menopausal Symptoms, and PMS....................87
Chapter 22: Neurofeedback for Treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD....................91
Chapter 23: Neurofeedback for Drug and Alcohol Addiction....................95
Chapter 24: Neurofeedback for Treatment of Eating Disorders....................99
Chapter 25: Neurofeedback for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue....................103
Chapter 26: Neurofeedback for Stroke Victims....................107
Chapter 27: Neurofeedback for Cognitive Decline and Dementia....................111
Chapter 28: Are Alzheimer's Patients Beyond the Reach of Neurofeedback?....................115
Chapter 29: Neurofeedback for Traumatic Brain Injuries....................119
Chapter 30: Neurofeedback for Managing Chronic Pain....................125
Chapter 31: Neurofeedback for Improving your Golf Game....................129
Chapter 32: Neurofeedback for Peak Performance....................133
Commonly Asked Questions....................139
About the Author....................153