NeurOptimal works differently. When other neurofeedback systems aim to bring you into an "optimal" range and balance of brainwaves, NeurOptimal does not. We do not look at your unique brain and impose our will on it so that it will become like a "normal" or "average" brain - one that is based off of a statistical aggregated norm. Rather, this system shows your brain and nervous system what it is doing in real time and allows your brain to decide if that is how it wants to be.
With NeurOptimal, nothing is being done “to” your brain. We do not diagnose or treat and we do not devise protocols to address symptoms. Rather, by providing your brain real-time feedback on its own behavior, moment to moment, your brain uses its neuroplastic abilities and adapts in order to create a more efficient state. There is a tremendous amount of evidence in the form of research and clinical trials that tell us neurofeedback is a remarkable modality.
So, is it better? Our results say Yes! In fact, we used a more traditional style of neurofeedback for 4 years but see better results with this system.
The “Rumble Strip” Technology
Imagine that you are driving down the interstate and something draws your attention. You find yourself drifting over the rumble strip which alerts you that you are heading off the road. What do you do? Well, you auto-correct your path, right? You gently readjust your course so that your wheels come back into the center of your lane. The rumble strip just alerted you that you were going off of the road and you decided that was not where you wanted to go. NeurOptimal works in a very similar way. Instead of an algorithm pushing you to create more alpha or less theta for example, the technology works by signaling your brain when it is "drifting" or "switching" into a different state. This signaling allows the brain to decide if it wants to switch or not.
More specifically, NeurOptimal is looking at the signature wiggle of energy coming off of your scalp that is related to how the nervous system is functioning. For example, right before the brain switches from a "rest and digest" (parasympathetic) state into a "fight or flight" (sympathetic) state, it creates a specific pattern of energy (something that we call turbulence). When that pattern or turbulence is detected, the technology inserts a pause into the music that you are listening to.
The brain and nervous system are intimately tuned in and connected to your environment both internally (like monitoring blood sugar and hormones) and externally (is it safe to relax? for example). When your thoughts drift into something that is even mildly stressful, the brain switches over from the rest state to the fight or flight state. This switching triggers the technology to insert a micro-second pause into the music. The microsecond pause acts as the highway rumble strip, bringing the brain back to the present moment.
Why does this corresponding pause bring the brain back to the present moment? Well, when you are listening to music and that music stops (pauses) your environment has changed – which is something that the brain is always on the lookout for. We say that this pause brings the brain back to the present moment because it is at this instance that the brain double-checks to make sure that everything is okay.
If everything is okay, and there is no reason to go into the fight or flight/stress state, the brain re-callibrates itself and conserves energy by not going into the stress response. Switching to the stress mode in this example would be a waste of energy, not needed, and ultimately inefficient.
Imagine that you are in a crowded room and everyone is carrying on and having a good time. Then, all of a sudden all of the lights go out and the room is pitch dark. What would happen? The room would go silent. Everyone would abandon conversations and stories and come back to the present moment. This is just how the brain works when the environment changes. The brain’s responsibility above all other tasks is to keep you safe and alive. So, if the lights go out your brain activates and checks to see if you are safe. If the answer is yes, you will either continue with the conversation you were having or switch to a different topic. The same thing occurs when the conscious brain detects a change in the environment. Now, imagine that the lights went off every time that you had even a mildly stressful thought. On a subconscious level, your brain would quickly correlate the nervous system’s switching into a stress state with the turning off of the lights. This would allow the brain to learn why the lights were going off, bringing it back into the present moment and then allowing the brain to choose whether or not to continue on that path or not.
Essentially, we are allowing to brain to see itself in real time and learn from that relevant feedback in the moment. When the brain is able to see itself and make subconscious changes in real-time, it is able to rewire and remold its physical structure and mental/emotional conclusions.
Because your brain is changing itself, it is creating very stable and sustainable structures that make sense to your brain.
One size does not fit all and no two people have the same brain. We are ushering in an age of personalized medicine. There is not a more personalized approach to balancing brain and nervous system activity than giving the brain information on its functioning and its inefficiencies, and allowing it to choose WHAT to change, HOW to change, the RATE of change, and what it should PRIORITIZE. Who are we to dictate these things to our brains?
Although you are relaxing and even napping during the training sessions, your brain is actively working out by constantly re-calibrating itself. Over the course of your training sessions, your brain becomes more flexible and resilient and your nervous system becomes more toned, responding to day-to-day situations in a more balanced way.
The brain is an energy hog, using 20% of bodily resources while only being 2 % of the bodyweight, so - it needs to be as efficient as it can be. The brain training process helps the brain to conserve energy and optimize function. When energy is freed up from unnecessary processes, thought patterns, or out of date programming, it can function at a higher level. The process naturally enhances your quality of life and helps you to overcome symptoms stemming from imbalance.
You can read more in our FAQ section