Forms of Neurotherapy
Neurotherapy encompasses a range of methods to help our brain change in order to improve functioning. These methods can help to improve alertness, attention, emotional regulation, behaviour, cognitive function and mental flexibility. They can be used on children from six years of age onwards and on adolescents and adults.
Neurotherapy impacts directly on the brain function underlying symptoms. Its various forms are differentially effective across a range of psychological and neurological conditions. The methods include (a) Neurofeedback therapy, (b) Infrared hemoencephalography [HEG], (c) Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (pEMF] and (d) Transcranial direct current stimulation [tDCS].
This involves operant training of targeted brain regions through biofeedback of brain electrical fields – in effect a form of behavioural therapy. It requires active client involvement in the training process. Neurofeedback provides a way of training our own brain waves. Ordinarily we cannot change our own brain wave patterns because we lack awareness of them. When undertaking Neurofeedback training a person gains instantaneous feedback about their own brain wave activity. When a person is able to see brain waves on a computer screen a few thousandths of a second after they occur it gives them the ability to influence and change them.
As said, change occurs through operant conditioning. In other words, a person undertaking neurofeedback training gains reward whenever their brainwaves move in a desired direction. With continuing feedback and practice they can re-train healthier brain wave patterns. This can occur irrespective of whether a person is suffering from attentional, emotional or learning difficulties. Neurofeedback can offer an alternative treatment to medication. It can also be used to facilitate peak performance in “normal” people who wish to improve their performance at work or improve their sporting endeavors.
Infrared hemoencephalography (HEG)
This therapy is designed to improve low blood flow (hypoperfusion) in underactive brain regions. It involves operant training via negative and positive training feedback of regional blood flow through measurement of temperature at the skin surface.
Pulsed electromagnetic field stimulation
This method includes a number of passive therapies that induce very low (micro) targeted stimulation of brain electromagnetic fields via the scalp. Whilst the fields induced by this method tend to be hundreds of times smaller than those imposed by mobile phones, the targeted way in which they are applied often produces dramatic clinical benefit over time. This approach seeks to stimulate neural firing in affected regions and in this way to remove “stuck” neural patterns, as can occur in conditions such as depression, PTSD, OCD, ASD, ADHD and TBI. The method has also been shown in animal models to help overcome brain inflammatory conditions. Such conditions can result from emotional trauma (e.g. PTSD) and physical trauma (e.g. traumatic brain injury) amongst other causes.
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)
This involves very low level (micro) electrical stimulation via the scalp of underlying brain tissue. Stimulation levels are so low as to be deemed non-invasive, are barely felt, have no side-effects and are safe enough to be applied to children. Our clinic recently completed a research study examining the efficacy of this method in dyslexia, with results currently being assessed. The intervention seeks to activate or suppress, as appropriate, neural firing in affected regions.