New Technology Strengthens The Mind

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

April 11, 2005

Just like you can develop the muscles in your biceps and triceps, you can increase your brain muscle. But instead of using a pulse meter to measure your heart-rate, Neurofeedback measures your brain-wave activity.

Take a person with Attention Deficit Disorder, for example. He or she will have abnormally high amounts of slow wave brain activity which is the creative and intuitive side, making it hard for him/her to pay attention for long periods of time. There are actually holes in the brain where there is no activity, but training with Neurofeedback strengthens and fills the holes.

"We're trying to allow people to shift into creative/intuitive when that's appropriate, shift into ration/logical when that's appropriate and be able to control how long they stay in each state, " said Neurofeedback Trainer Peter Van Deusen.

It only takes a few minutes to hook-up to the system and the training process is as easy as watching a movie--literally. Neurofeedback links brain activity to the film. If the person stops paying attention, then the screen will dim, but if their brain is functioning correctly, bells will chime and the movie will continue to play.

The censors are attached to both your ears and your scalp. The one on your scalp actually tracks your brain-waves and sends electrical currents through the wires, into the amplifier to show-up visually on the computer.

"There's only one person who can take credit for it and that's you, because you did the work. So it's an empowering technology instead of disempowering," said Van Deusen.

"My son is calm and easygoing," said Karen Duncan who used it on her children and has become a home-trainer. "He's not hyper and aggressive anymore. My daughter doesn't have the anxiety she used to have and the other one doesn't have the reading disability anymore."

Here in Charlottesville, there is only one group of professionals who use this training, not only with A-D-D and A-D-H-D cases, but also anxiety, depression, phobias, panic disorders, post traumatic stress syndrome, etc. The technology often reduces or takes the place of medicine and is permanent with little to no side affects.

"Personally I've had probably from 80 to 85 percent success," said Dr. Daniel Key who is a Psycho-Therapist that uses Neurofeedback in Charlottesville.

Neurofeedback is not only used by professional groups and home-trainers, but community agencies are beginning to implement it in family and school programs--the closest one being in Prince William County.

Neurofeedback isn't just for psychological disorders, but anyone can benefit, especially athletes and musicians to put them 'in the zone.'

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