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Neurofeedback at Home

Neurofeedback at Home
Could a home unit be right for you?

Recently we’ve had more requests than ever from people wondering if home use equipment is a good option for them. Since neurofeedback technology is complicated and sophisticated, the answer isn’t always simple, so that’s why we’ve provided the information that follows.

The Center for Brain Training, headed by Mike Cohen, has more than 25 years of experience training clients with neurofeedback. Mike has also taught thousands of health professionals how to use neurofeedback with clients.

For many years, we’ve provided home neurofeedback systems to a select number of our clients in Florida, across the U.S. and in Canada and Mexico.

How will you know if home training is a good fit?

Deciding if home training is a good fit for you begins with completing specialized paperwork that uncovers your history and challenges. It’s followed by an in-depth consultation with a Center for Brain Training professional to discuss your issues and goals and, when possible, a visit to the center.

During the consultation we review your history and assess your unique needs. If at-home training makes sense for your situation, we’ll recommend which equipment we feel would be the right fit to help you reach your goals.

We want what’s best for our clients, so if we feel that home training isn’t a good fit for you, or for us, we can often suggest other options.

Not near our office in Jupiter, Florida? No problem. We do consultations remotely with people who are out of the area.

What factors make home training worth considering?

  • Distance. There may not be any trained providers nearby.
  • Convenience. Some people’s schedules make it extremely difficult to complete regular in-office visits. Consistency is important.
  • Some situations require ongoing, long-term training. Though it might take more sessions on home equipment than with in-office training, it may be easier to do numerous sessions at home.
  • Since neurofeedback helps you rewire your brain, more frequent training at home  can make a huge difference.
  • You (or a family member) may be uncomfortable training in an office setting due to health or other concerns.
  • Several family members may wish or need to train, which may be financially more feasible with a home system.

Are there situations where home training is not recommended or doesn’t work?

Yes. You may not be a good candidate if your situation is too complicated or challenging for us to support remotely. We’ll be able to evaluate home training’s suitability for you during your consultation. In certain cases, you will benefit more being in an office with a technician to oversee your training or by using an approach not available in home use equipment.

There are factors that can hinder the success of neurofeedback: inconsistency of training, or a lack of patience or persistence, family dynamics and lifestyle issues. These, and other potential obstacles to success, are reviewed in more depth in Mike Cohen’s Amazon bestselling book: Neurofeedback 101: Rewiring the Brain for ADHD, Anxiety, Depression and Beyond (without medication).

What happens during a consultation?

  • We review your history and assess your unique needs. If at-home training makes sense for your situation, we’ll recommend which equipment we feel would be the best fit to help you reach your goals.
  • In some cases, we recommend having a quantitative EEG (qEEG) brain map. This type of map can be helpful in better targeting the training. If you are not local, you may be able to locate someone in your geographic area who can conduct a brain map for you and send us the results for analysis.
  • By the end of the consultation, we’ll have a better idea of your training options and responses.
  • Equipment can be ordered as soon as we identify the system and approach that best fit your situation.
  • We may suggest other technologies, if appropriate, to further support your home training.

Benefits of an in-person visit to our center

  • If you come to our office, we are able to administer several neurofeedback sessions to you and observe your response to training. This helps us understand how to best support your home training and will give us an idea of how much training you might need to reach your goal.
  • We may conduct sessions on more than one type of neurofeedback device in order to see which type of training and equipment may work best for you.
  • If we feel a qEEG (brain map) is warranted, we can conduct it in our office. A brain map can often help in targeting neurofeedback training protocols as well as influencing which system we recommend.  Our center records a high-resolution 32-channel EEG that is not commonly available.

Note: We are happy to direct you to hotels and other resources close to our office that you might need during your visit.

How we work if you can’t come see us in person

  • We will conduct a remote, in-depth consultation with you to determine your needs and goals, as well as which equipment is right for you.
  • If an EEG recording is suggested for a map analysis, it may be possible to find someone closer to home to record your EEG and send it to us for analysis. Having the EEG recording may influence which system we recommend for some clients.  A brain map can often help in targeting neurofeedback training protocols as well as influencing which system we recommend.
  • We can help install and configure the hardware and software remotely.
  • There are videos and manuals that help show you how to measure and identify the standard sites where EEG sensors (electrodes) are placed on the head .
  •  By logging in with a remote camera and video app such as WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype,  Facetime or TeamViewer, it’s like being there.  We can observe what you do and help teach and guide you to make sure every placement of the sensor is correct.

“Having a neurofeedback system at home is a convenient way to achieve your goals through more frequent and consistent training. It’s like having your own ‘brain gym.’” – Michael Cohen, Director, Center for Brain Training.

What equipment and training are right for you?

What equipment is best for you varies by individual. That’s why we conduct an in-depth consultation and evaluation before making a recommendation.

Read more about equipment.

There are several types of neurofeedback training systems available. Most come with an amplifier, cable, electrodes and software. Some require a powerful computer with gaming capabilities, while others make less demand on the equipment.We currently offer three different home systems. Which system we recommend depends upon multiple factors that go beyond what we can explain here, including training options, user interface, and price points.

We choose neurofeedback systems that are easy for us to support, with a history of good tech support and reliability. These systems have different characteristics and some work better for certain situations than others.

iPhone/Android-based neurofeedback: One of our new popular options for adults and kids lets you run neurofeedback sessions from an iPhone, iPad or Android device. It comes with a headband and one external sensor, making it easy enough for a teen and sometimes even younger kids to do it without their parents’ help.

What’s involved with remote setup?

When your equipment arrives, you have the option of installing the software yourself with the supplied directions or hiring one of our technicians to help you remotely over the internet.

You’ll need a remote camera and video app such as WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype, Facetime or TeamViewer in order to connect with one of our experienced neurofeedback techs.

What is supervision – and how much do you need?

Different equipment and types of training will have different supervision requirements.

In the beginning, a technician will monitor and supervise your training remotely until you feel comfortable on your own. Your technician makes sure everything is connected and placed correctly on the head. Periodically monitored check-ins later on with a tech help to increase your chances of sticking with your training and conducting your training correctly for optimal results.

As your training progresses, your technician will customize and modify the neurofeedback training process when needed, such as what areas or sites to train and what training parameters should be used, based on your response to the training.

Since we act as your brain coach, we encourage your feedback throughout the process, such as observations about subtle changes day-to-day or week-to-week. This allows us to adjust training protocols, based on your training response. We coach you on the types of changes to watch for or observe. We use this feedback to help guide your training.

Costs and Fees

Some home training equipment is only available through purchase. Other equipment can be rented. Fees for the supervised sessions are in addition to the cost of the equipment.

The cost of purchased equipment (not including the computer) can range, as a ballpark price, from $1,200 to $6,000+.

In some cases it makes sense to purchase the equipment. In others, a rental option may be a better fit. We help you work through your options to determine what is best for your particular situation.

How to learn more about equipment or book a consultation

To find out more about home use devices, or to arrange a consultation, contact Dr. Liz Doyle at 561-594-2062 or email her at DrLizDoyle@centerforbrain.com.

How to learn more about neurofeedback before your consultation

To make the most of your consultation, we recommend you learn as much about neurofeedback as you can, in advance.

Start by watching our 4-minute video, What is neurofeedback?

You can read our abbreviated FAQ section below. A more extensive list of FAQ’s can be found here.

For an even greater depth of understanding, written for a lay audience, read Mike’s Cohen’s Amazon bestselling book, Neurofeedback 101: Rewiring the Brain for ADHD, Anxiety, Depression and Beyond (without medication). Available both in paperback and e-book format.

Frequently Asked Questions About Neurofeedback

What is a neurofeedback session like?

After the electrodes (sensors) are placed on your head, you simply sit in a comfortable chair and relax. You listen to the audio feedback, play a game or watch a video until your session is complete. The feedback helps your brain learn how to function better. When your brain functions better, your symptoms often improve.

How is neurofeedback different from Lumosity, brain games or mindfulness?

Video games, brain games like Sudoku, software training like Lumosity and BrainHq and mindfulness training can be powerful. However, they do not directly measure specific brain activity or give instant (real-time) feedback like neurofeedback does. When exposed to neurofeedback, the brain responds to the instant information it receives and changes or adapts its behavior as a result.

Neurofeedback technology helps measure and provide feedback about brain circuit activity that correlates to learning, expressing what you think, doing math, controlling emotions, paying attention, quieting your mind and far more. Powerful learning or adapting typically occurs when your brain gets instant feedback about specific brain patterns.

What’s the age range of people who can be trained?

You can train the brain at almost any age, from 3 to 100. If learning can occur—even a little—then the brain can adapt.

Our youngest client so far was 18 months old; our oldest clients are in their 90s. We trained a 91-year-old woman who had limited ability to communicate due to a stroke. After five sessions, she was communicating so normally that her 93-year-old husband remarked, “I’ve got my wife back.”

A colleague successfully trained his three-month-old son to sleep better.

Does neurofeedback work even if you don’t pay attention?

Yes. Would music affect you if you weren’t paying attention to it? If I told you I wanted you to listen to a song that you had never heard, what would you have to do? Just listen. No real effort is required. Your brain responds to music without your having to do anything. Think of neurofeedback the same way. In most cases, you listen (or watch), and your brain figures out how to respond to the feedback (sound, visuals) with no effort on your part.

How can hearing a beep or watching a game or video help your brain change?

The type of sound or visual feedback isn’t the key. There’s an infinite number of ways to provide visual, auditory and even tactile feedback.You receive instant feedback from the neurofeedback whenever your brain makes a certain pattern, and your brain does the rest. It detects the pattern and quickly learns to make more of it. It might also use that pattern to adapt or disrupt existing patterns, allowing the brain to reorganize its function. More

Your brain is superb at identifying patterns that are important to it. It typically responds to the feedback from its own pattern by reinforcing or responding to the pattern being measured over time. The brain is an exquisite pattern-recognition machine.

Because it’s hard for people to grasp that the brain responds to feedback without attention or effort, here are two examples that illustrate the concept:

1. A mom at the playground is surrounded by other moms, all talking. Across the field, her five-year-old is playing with lots of noisy other kids. In the middle of a conversation, she jumps up and runs across the field because she heard trouble coming from her child. How did her brain know that her child’s voice was escalating, considering all the other noise going on? It picked out and responded to the particular pattern (the child’s voice) that was significant to her brain.

2. You’re at a loud party, paying close attention to a conversation. From across the room, you hear some-one mention your name (meaning your brain responded to that “feedback”). With all the surrounding chatter, how did you notice? You weren’t listening for your name, but you heard it.

Are you putting anything into my brain when I train?

No. Neurofeedback simply measures brain activity. The sensors placed on your head read activity coming from your brain, such as the EEG. That data is sent to the computer program which, in turn, provides auditory or visual feedback. It’s the same concept as a blood pressure cuff that reads your pressure and relays it to the gauge on the cuff.

Can neurofeedback help me get off medication?

Many people who come for neurofeedback have the goal of lowering their meds or not relying on medications to manage symptoms. As improvements, or more stability of symptoms, occur from neurofeedback training, some children and adults are able to reduce or even eliminate their medications—even when previous efforts to lower the dose has failed.

Can I train with neurofeedback if I’m using marijuana, alcohol or other drugs?

It’s possible to train with neurofeedback while using substances, but they may interfere with or slow neurofeedback progress. Success depends on many factors, including the type of substance, dosage, frequency, your age and overall clinical history. It’s important to be frank about this with us so that you can have the best training experience possible and to be sure that the training you’re doing is appropriate.

How quickly can I expect to notice effects—and do they stick?

About 70 percent of the kids and adults we work with notice some type of change within one to three sessions. Others take longer. Initially, the changes might be minor or temporary, like moments of feeling calmer or more alert, sleeping better, having more dreams or not reacting to a usual trigger (anything out of your ordinary patterns).

When does neurofeedback not work?

Since neurofeedback does not involve a magic wand, there are potential roadblocks to the successful completion of training.

  • Poor diet
  • “Giving up” due to impatience or inconsistent or slow progress
  • Incorrect training protocol(s)
  • Certain medications such as benzodiazepines or too many meds
  • Alcohol, recreational drug use and other lifestyle factors
  • Failure to train regularly
  • Environmental issues such as chemicals or WiFi exposure
  • Medical issues
  • Family Issues (having poor or no support

If neurofeedback is so good, why hasn’t my doctor or therapist told me about it?

Even though neurofeedback has been around since the 1960s, with numerous studies demonstrating its effectiveness, it still hasn’t gained broad acceptance.There are multiple reasons. Most medical doctors and mental health professionals don’t know much about neurofeedback, nor do they understand its implications. It’s not a subject they learn in their formal training, so it’s not part of their conventional toolbox.

Health care providers generally won’t recommend a therapy until they feel comfortable with and understand it or until more of their colleagues offer it.

Mike Cohen’s personal take on some of the other reasons that neurofeedback isn’t more widely used:

  • Most health care providers don’t have time to research neurofeedback well enough to recommend it. There’s a big learning curve.
  • The technology isn’t “ownable” or patentable. This means that no major company (yet) will invest the large sums of money necessary to promote it, educate providers and help it gain acceptance across the health care system.
  • Neurofeedback technology crosses numerous academic disciplines. No single discipline claims it (psychology, psychiatry, neurology, special ed, cognitive neuroscience, etc.). As a result, almost no graduate schools or medical schools have taken on the responsibility (opportunity) to educate health professionals about neurofeedback.
  • Emphasizing neurofeedback as a treatment (training) of first resort requires a paradigm shift (which isn’t easy for professionals) from “treatment” (a.k.a. drugs) to “training.”
  • Private insurance companies and Medicare have extremely restrictive coverage of neurofeedback—even though there are applicable codes. It would likely take the hiring of expensive lobbyists and more studies to get greater coverage. The industry has been too small to afford that effort. That being said, there seems to be increasing coverage by some insurance companies.
  • Despite those challenges, a growing number of clinicians are using neurofeedback. Why?
  • Because (1) they hear success stories from other clinicians and their own clients; (2) they’ve read articles or research; or (3) clients request alternatives to traditional medications.

What is a neurofeedback session like?

After the electrodes (sensors) are placed on your head, you simply sit in a comfortable chair and relax. You listen to the audio feedback, play a game or watch a video until your session is complete. The feedback helps your brain learn how to function better. When your brain functions better, your symptoms often improve.