Unlocking Brain Potential
The Venerable Thich Chi Thien at Tibetan Medical Institute, Dharamsala, India, remarks on the quality of meditative state prompted by Othmer synchrony neurofeedback...
“EEG biofeedback ...is a powerful tool, in part because the patient becomes part of the treatment process by taking more control over his own physiological processes.”
Daniel Amen, M.D., Change
Your Brain, Change Your Life
How It Works Inside Us
Our thoughts, feelings and actions (conscious or unconscious) exist by way of a vast network of electrical impulses that travel along approximately 200 billion neurons within the brain. These neurons are connected by “more than 125 trillion synapses just in the cerebral cortex alone. That is roughly equal to the number of stars in 1,500 Milky Way galaxies." (Stanford University Medical Center. Stunning Details of Brain Connections Revealed. Science Daily, November 17, 2010.)
Although the electrical activity in our brains is largely regulated, it is also somewhat dysregulated. In a well-regulated state, our minds are alert and engaged. In an extraordinarily well-regulated state, we might describe ourselves as being "in the zone", “on”, or “clicking on all cylinders”, perhaps performing superbly in a tournament, on an exam, while writing a poem or paper, during ordinary daily or job tasks, or even while meditating.
Dysregulation can be caused by many things. Examples are physical or emotional trauma, illness, genetics, experiencing abandonment in the early years, and dementia. Neural connections may be lost or absent.
A modest degree of dysregulation can lead to substantial distress and dysfunction manifested in unwanted mental, emotional, and/or physical symptoms. Examples include lack of mental clarity, irritability, clumsiness, migraines, counterproductive worrying, poor impulse control, poor sleep, chronic pain, tremor, difficulty reading, chronic feelings of abandonment, being physically or emotionally overwhelmed, chronic constipation, aggressive behavior, PMS, panic, PTSD, and various cognitive struggles.
The good news is that the brain is highly adaptable and its plasticity is great. It has an innate capacity to do the work of changing and improving itself. Neurofeedback allows such changing and improvements.
During neurofeedback, the electrical activity is read from the specific parts of the brain that correlate with the symptoms the individual is experiencing. For example, racing thoughts disallowing sleep onset, correlate with the left frontal lobe, while night terrors correlate with the left and right temporal lobes. The brainwave activity in those parts of the brain is communicated back to the brain in real time so the brain sees, hears, and touches its own activity as it is happening.
As the brain compares its activity with what it is intending to do, it witnesses its discrepancy, realizes its dysfunction, and self-corrects. As the brain engages with -- experiences -- its own core rhythms, it begins to not only calm, but also to figure out how to control its rhythm. It develops something similar to “muscle memory.” The brain exercises, strengthens and memorizes the “how” of its ability to better manage itself into balanced, increased brain function.
Consider an analogy. Ballet dancers practice hour upon hour in front of a mirror. Watching their performances, they can witness where their bodies are in ways they cannot “feel” or intuit. This witnessing allows them to make adjustments to their stances, postures and form until the corrections are made and become muscle memory, at which point the dancers can perform flawlessly without the mirror as an aid.
Similarly, neurofeedback provides the brain with highly relevant feedback about how it is performing, equipping the brain with the information it needs in order to adjust and regulate its own electrical activity until it is self-regulating, and then self-regulating without neurofeedback.
The brain’s natural typical response to neurofeedback is to improve itself. It typically reorganizes and self-optimizes into a more stable, effective, and functional state. The process of neurofeedback has been shown to repair blighted circuitry, by prompting growth or regrowth of missing, damaged, or lost neural pathways.
Neurofeedback is a fundamentally different approach to health, well-being, and quality of life. Since the brain is in charge of the central nervous system, our whole being reaps the benefits of a healthier brain. In response to neurofeedback, we can function substantially better physically, cognitively, and emotionally.