Personalised Brain training for mind and soul
Alpha Theta neurofeedback training guides the brain through gentle oscillations between alpha and theta dominant states. The idea is that memories are accessed during theta dominance that can then be safely processed during alpha modulation. Each state activates a different part of the salience network, and reflects a mental transition between awake and pre-sleep, or shifting from extra- to intrapersonal based processing.
A session is usually thirty minutes, or multiples thereof, as the brain takes a few minutes to settle before commencing its alpha – theta modulation. The transitions between alpha and theta dominance are often visible on the EEG monitor, as there appear ‘cross-overs’ every few minutes. Should a participant transition into actual sleep, delta activity will increase visibly. Sufficient mental calming before starting alpha theta training helps maximise training effects.
Alpha Theta training is done in a quiet room with minimal sensory input. The feedback is auditory, as two different but related soundscapes (e.g. waves vs. waterfall) smoothly transition, indicating to the brain which state is prevalent (alpha or theta). Participants describe the experience as intensely relaxing, sometimes emotional, and compare it to a power nap, feeling mentally and emotionally refreshed.
In preparation of Alpha Theta training, we recommend Personalised Brain Training based on a qEEG brain map.
We all have unresolved emotional experiences at the end of a day. Normally, we are able to digest these during our sleep or in subsequent interactions with others, or even in our own rational mind. However, some events are simply too overwhelming to deal with. Other times, we don’t allow ourselves sufficient rest to be able to fully digest our experiences. Either way, unresolved issues are allowed to fester in our subconscious, and therefore end up compounding. As a result, we carry more emotional luggage than we need to, and this affects our ability to live our lives to the fullest.
Whether we are affected by a single, emotionally incapacitating event, or a combination of more subtle – possibly unacknowledged – fears and habits which cause uncomfortable feelings, trauma can hold us back in our ability to live an emotionally fulfilling life and maximise our creative potential. We are all susceptible to trauma and finding a way to deal with it is essential.
A study by Imperial College, London, and the Royal College of Music showed that students advanced effectively one or two years in musical maturity with a mere ten sessions of Alpha Theta Neurofeedback Training. See more below.
Brainwaves – Overview
· Highly concentrated state of mind
· 40Hz is a prevalent rhythm occurring naturally across the entire brain
31 – 100 Hz
· Concentration, interaction, focus, higher cognitive tasks
· Higher beta frequencies are also associated with fear and anxiety, fight or flight
12 – 30 Hz
· Quiet mind, flowing thoughts, slight detachment, meditative state
· 10Hz is a natural rhythm particularly at the back of the head with eyes closed
· Serotonin release
8 – 12 Hz
· Dream-like state with vivid imagery; creative, gateway to the unconscious
· Stage 1 sleep and also present in REM sleep
· Deep state meditation
3 – 8 Hz
· Dreamless sleep stage 4
· Bodily recuperation
· Growth hormones GHRH and PRL released
0.5 – 3 Hz
With Alpha Theta Neurofeedback Training, we are putting the mind in a state where it can relax and start healing. Alpha Theta neurofeedback training holds the participant in a state of deep relaxation, where memories can safely surface and as a result be processed. The concept is that traumatic memories are put into long-term storage, where they can be recalled from, without the adverse emotional state attached to them.
Another key advantage of alpha theta training for trauma resolution is that most of the digestion happens at a subconscious level – we are not asking someone to relive their trauma, but rather enable the brain to order such experiences by itself.
In thirty minute sessions, eyes-closed, we feed the brain information about its own state – specifically, whether it is in alpha or theta state, and importantly, we allow the brain to choose its own path. The brain inevitably chooses to slowly oscillate between meditative alpha and more dream-like theta. It is during the transition between these mental states that the brain appears to digest trauma, mostly at at subconscious level.
Through headphones, binaural frequencies are used to show the brain which state is dominant, accompanied by relaxing music and other sounds that help it orient itself. Unlike in binaural meditation, e.g. binaural theta waves, we are not trying to stimulate the production of certain frequencies, but are more interested in showing the brain simply where it is operating. It is in fact important that we don’t resort to meditation while doing alpha theta training.
After half an hour of this deep yet relaxing experience, we slowly arise with the feeling of having had a power nap.
A study by Imperial College, London, and the Royal College of Music showed that students advanced effectively one or two years in musical maturity with a mere ten sessions of Alpha Theta Neurofeedback Training.
In this 1999 study at Imperial College, London, Alpha Theta Neurofeedback Training was compared to other standard supportive services and relaxation training techniques and exercises. Students of the Royal College of Music, London, were evaluated on their musical performance, having received ten sessions of Alpha Theta Neurofeedback Training. Only the Alpha Theta Neurofeedback Training subset demonstrated gains in musical performance, and these gains were substantial and systematic:
Total Average Musical Improvement
These impressive gains as judged by blind evaluators represent a substantial improvement. All aspects of musicianship were positively, and greatly affected, including physical ability as well as creativity and insight.
Source: Othmer / Gruzelier
J Gruzelier also finds in a 2014 study that Alpha Theta training benefits both advanced instrumental and novice singing abilities, including improvisation – beyond the outcome of the previous study with elite conservatoire musicians.
Alpha Theta neurofeedback is particularly useful for PTSD, though as adults we all have some unresolved issues or memories as a result of everyday stress and so this training can be useful for most people. First, we need to achieve sufficient mental calming for someone to be comfortable to engage in a half-hour, eyes-closed, session. Not everyone is ready for sensory deprivation, and being able to relax and let go of conscious control is essential to fully benefit from Alpha Theta Neurofeedback Training. ILF training for physical and emotional calming is generally highly effective in reducing hyper-vigilance and anxiety. With Alpha Theta Neurofeedback Training we can then go deeper – unresolved traumatic experiences as well as fears and habits that continue to trigger behaviours and uncomfortable feelings are addressed.
Feeling down, even chronically, is not the opposite of hyper-vigilance and anxiety. From a neurofeedback perspective, we treat depression as an emotional, and hence limbic problem. Physical and emotional calming through ILF neurofeedback training usually goes a long way towards overcoming core emotional misery, and issues of self-worth. ILF training is also useful for stabilising mood swings and dissociative episodes.
With Alpha Theta Neurofeedback Training, we can address unresolved traumas that contribute to depression, especially when this is a chronic condition. In combination with ILF neurofeedback training, we can address a lack of resilience and the lack of emotional comfort that underlies this condition.
Alpha Theta neurofeedback training has also been successfully used in treating addiction / substance abuse issues, with nearly half of participants having experienced the Peniston effect – a subsequent allergic reaction to alcohol or other psychoactive substances.
With a Kaiser Neuromap, we can identify character traits, vulnerabilities and strengths.
This particular type of brain map shows us relevant information about functional connectivity between brain areas that govern our behaviour patterns.
For the purpose of Personalised Brain Training, we are interested in more persistent attributes than simply states. Kaiser Neuromaps make these uniquely identifiable and meaningful.
A brain map is a way to break down the sources of behaviour patterns in a highly granular form and represents these visually.
Kaiser Neuromaps reveal the maturity of over 50 Brodmann areas – each with specific functions and contributions to our preconscious interpretation of our surroundings and how we interact with them.
Instead of categorisation, we get a unique and individual representations of a person’s needs and strengths, and can apply a personalised holistic training approach.
Personalised Brain Training is a neurofeedback training method devised by founders of the field, Barry Sterman and David Kaiser.
Neurofeedback training is a process where we give the brain feedback about its own activity at a particular cortical site in real time, via visual, auditory or tactile means.
There is no direct stimulus to the brain and the sensors attached are for measurement of cortical EEG, or tiny electrical currents detectable on the surface of our head.
This signal is then amplified and analysed by software in real-time, and this information is used to provide auditory feedback to our brain via small changes in volume.
Our pre-conscious mind responds to the feedback and corrects its behaviour while our conscious attention is focused on the reward – watching the movie at full volume.
A learning curve is observable as the brain adopts new behaviour patterns.
With neurofeedback training, we can restore functional connectivity and thus calm the mind.
The ability to balance instinct with reason enables us to share realities when needed and thus perform better in groups while preserving our individuality.
We take a holistic approach to healthy brain self-regulation, rather than categorisation or diagnosis.
Neurofeedback is evidence-based. It’s first application was discovered in 1971 when it was used to resolve intractable epilepsy.
There are over 2,000 peer-reviewed research reports on PubMed demonstrating efficacy across a number of pathologies.
In the US, it is an accepted complementary treatment for many issues.
A qEEG recording takes about 45minutes for a 20 minute recording.
We analyse the data with Kaiser Neuromap software which gives us a unique view into character traits and vulnerabilities.
Findings are presented in a separate conversation with a training plan.
We use a movie of choice as the feedback mechanism – our conscious mind engages with the film, and feedback is delivered by small changes in volume or picture size.
Our pre-conscious mind adapts its behaviour to preserve the more comfortable volume and picture size, and learning occurs.
Volume changes are slight, not stop-start, and the process is enjoyable.
A two hour training session allows us to do 90 minutes of neurofeedback.
This captures an entire ultradian rhythm cycle and corresponds to the approximate duration of feature film movies.
We can start with shorter sessions as appropriate, mainly with children.
Ideally, we do two or more sessions per week to start with.
We would expect to see responsiveness within the first few sessions and remap after twenty hours or about ten sessions.
Generally, we would expect to doing twenty sessions over two months, though this can vary substantially.
We can also accommodate intensives, where we do two sessions per day over a number of days, and have had good results with these.