Dynamical Neurofeedback® Explained
Getting the information (or feedback) the brain needs to organize itself, allows the brain to release patterns that can get in the way of it functioning well. How would you know if your brain is not functioning at its best? If you are feeling off and not maximizing your potential, ask yourself what stands in the way of you being or achieving what you would like in your life. It’s possible your brain could use some hurdle help.
Have you experienced times when you have felt “on target”, maybe even invincible, untouchable, where you are mentally in your “A game”? Or where you have felt clear, poised, “in the now”? Or maybe warm, safe, connected and loving. During these moments your brain is organized, your CNS is flexible and resilient to whatever challenges it faces, and you’re reaping the benefits in the moment.
Using NeurOptimal® is like having a “defrag” of your hard drive, it’s suddenly easier to get out of your own way and access your “A game”. Roadblocks can fall away and life can just seem easier, more in flow.
No matter where you are starting from, every brain has a potential best, its own level of optimal flow and function. It doesn’t matter if you are a peak performing athlete or performer, or if you are struggling with relationships or your studies in school, or whatever your situation — given the right information about itself, every brain can reveal its best.
Whether you are looking for personal or spiritual enhancement, that edge to help prepare you for exams or a performance, or whether you just want to “get your ducks in a row”, we believe NeurOptimal® can help you reach that goal. Be your best you. It’s time.
We are often asked: “Who can benefit from using NeurOptimal®?” Our answer: “Anyone with a Brain.” This is because there are no criteria to determine whether you can use NeurOptimal® or not. It is used on toddlers to our oldest citizens, by the sick and the well, by those not functioning at their best to those who excel at what they do.
There are no circumstances that preclude its use, and there is nothing to ever change when you do use it. There is no expertise required — just hit Go and you’re off.
Every time you use NeurOptimal® your brain receives information about what it has just done, micro-second by microsecond. It works with you wherever you are in that instant. So there is never any evaluation to do ahead of time, no decisions to make and no settings to change. You don’t have to worry about doing anything wrong, and neither can you over train. If your brain gets tired it just ignores the information, just as you might ignore a television that is on in the background. Safe, and effective. Anybody. Anywhere. Anytime.
NeurOptimal® offers information to the brain about what it has just done, which the brain can then use to organize itself. But how does it do that?
During a NeurOptimal® session you will wear ear clips and two small sensors on the sides of your head. These pick up the delicate electrical activity of your brain. You relax and close your eyes and listen to music or watch a movie. NeurOptimal® processes your brain signals very rapidly and when it detects them moving into an “instability”, the music or movie pauses very briefly. That’s it. That’s all that happens. This is the “feedback”.
Consciously of course, this has no meaning for us — in fact we may not even notice them. But unconsciously our brain understands the mathematics behind the timing of the pauses, which act a bit like a “rumble strip”. The brain adjusts its activity without any effort from you (you can be completely zoned out if you want), to stay “within” the rumble strip. The brain does this on its own — NeurOptimal® doesn’t tell it to. Imagine you are walking along a path on a cliff side, in the dark. You’d probably be floundering. But then a flashlight is shone showing the cliff edge. The flashlight doesn’t tell you what to do, but now you can use the extra information you have (the location of the cliff edge) to walk more certainly along your path. The brain learns from the information it is given until over time and without your conscious awareness or effort, it learns to organize itself more efficiently. And this manifests in your life by blocks dropping away and life just seems easier.
NeurOptimal® is simple. But its simplicity belies its power. It’s powerful because it communicates directly with your brain, and there is nothing to interfere with that. There is no outside person having to evaluate or diagnose you, and no outside person deciding what training you need. It’s your brain effectively communicating with itself and making its own changes. Period. Think about that! Your brain really does know best.
We call NeurOptimal® “neurofeedback”, yet we are careful to distinguish NeurOptimal® from regular neurofeedback. Why is this?
We call NeurOptimal® a form of neurofeedback for two reasons. The first is that during a session information about your brain is collected (that’s the neuro- part) and then is fed back to your brain by brief pauses in sound. That’s the feedback part. Hence the logical name, neurofeeedback.
The second reason is that the co-developers of NeurOptimal® were active contributors within the field of neurofeedback for many years and NeurOptimal® was an evolution of that work. In fact Dr. Valdeane Brown openly shared his thinking for nigh on a decade with his colleagues. His ideas were so revolutionary however, that there was difficulty accepting them within the field. Slowly the Drs. Brown withdrew, devoting their energies to developing a system that could accurately incorporate their thinking. We now know that system as NeurOptimal®.
What was so radically different in the thinking of the Drs. Brown? It was their idea of viewing the brain as an intelligent, self-organizing dynamical system which can actively utilize information to its own benefit. Viewed from this perspective, the most important element in helping the brain to self-organize is simply the provision of accurate information (that is, feedback). In contrast, our esteemed colleagues viewed the brain as a collection of individual parts that required re-directing in some way. Their approaches relied on extensive evaluation and diagnosis (this condition has too much of this and too little of this) followed by decisions taken by the practitioner as to what the brain needed more of and less of. This would result in training of different states of consciousness, some activating the brain and some quieting it. In short, the brain was told what to do to improve itself. The person doing the training was very much an active participant in getting the brain to behave better, often working very hard to gain points and achieve a variety of goals presented by the software, in order to make the brain change. Sensors would sometimes be moved during sessions too, so each part of the brain could be worked with separately. A crucial role of the practitioner was constantly watching for side effects as a consequence of these training of states, both during the sessions and between sessions. Prior to every session time would be spent assessing how the client had fared since the last session and the protocol for that day adapted to correct for noted imbalances in how the client was feeling. In fact, this is the way most neurofeedback systems function to this day.
This brings us to the last part of our question — why are we so careful to distinguish Neuroptimal® from other neurofeedback systems? All Neuroptimal® does is present information to the brain in a way that can be understood by a dynamical system, and the brain does the rest. No evaluation, no diagnosis, no telling the brain what to do, no goals, no training of states (so no side effects) and no conscious participation by the client. Effortless.
Now THAT is elegance! Simple. Not simplistic.
Doing NeurOptimal® sessions is a bit like learning to read — minus the hard work!
Once you know how to read, you can’t not know. So yes, it lasts. But if you don’t read for a very long time, you might get a little rusty. Then once you jump back in, you quickly catch up and you’re off!
NeurOptimal® is very like that. Once you have done say 20 Sessions, we like to say “you have it in your back pocket”. But if you get thrown off by something happening in your life, a session or two or three can get you right back. You can also stop training any time you want, and pick back up again later. It’s really up to you.
Alternatively, those of us who own NeurOptimal® frequently consider it part of our own self-care, much like exercise. We are living tissue after all, and daily life stressors and pollution all take their toll. You might want to run yourself weekly or monthly to stay tuned — it’s really up to you. It’s your brain doing the training after all. It will let you know when it wants a session!
So yes, the benefits of NeurOptimal® remain with you, and when life throws you an unexpected curve a few sessions can quickly help you find your way home.
There are many reasons why NeurOptimal® is so safe.
When you are listening to NeurOptimal® you will hear brief micro-pauses in the sound. Once you settle into a session, you might hardly even notice them. If listening to pauses in music were risky, our founder Dr. Val Brown jokes that you would have to hold the record companies liable for damages from old scratchy records! Certainly playing records in their hey-day did not seem to adversely affect millions of music lovers.
There is another reason though, that NeurOptimal® is so safe. Unlike other systems, NeurOptimal® does not train states of consciousness. Indeed, it does not do anything to influence any outcome. Instead it is up to your brain to use the mathematical information it receives, or not — as it will. For this reason NeurOptimal® is an extraordinarily safe tool for self-optimization. In fact, history of its use world-wide as revealed in two extensive surveys of our users indicate that we have now well over three million hours of safe usage under all our belts. And that number is growing exponentially.