Discover answers to common inquiries about NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback
Learn about its safety, the science behind it, the recommended number of sessions, and where to locate neurofeedback services near you.
Read also neurofeedback reviews and the most frequently asked questions on renting a home system
How Does NeurOptimal® Brain Training Work?
When the brain is about to change states and perform an action it produces an electrical “dance” called turbulence. The neurofeedback system identifies the turbulence and through immediately stopping the music/audio in that millisecond the brain’s orienting response is triggered. The orienting response is the process every brain uses to assess changes in their environment. The brain uses auditory changes as its primary way to sense change because we can hear 360, as opposed to visual which is limited to 180 degrees of perception.
The orienting response is the brain’s automatic response of ‘coming into the present’ in a similar way as to when you are lost in a daydream and someone calls your name, you automatically orient yourself in the present. This response is triggered when the music stops. It automatically comes in the present and identifies what the needs are for the here-and-now as well as “sees” what it’s about to do automatically. If it identifies an activity that it is about to perform that is not in alignment with present needs it will automatically adjust its activity.
For example, if the brain is alerted to come into the present and it ‘sees’ that it is in a safe environment and is reading a book, and it sees it is about to perform a stress response, such as to scan the environment (hypervigilence), it will immediately change it’s functioning to allow for a sustained focus.
The brain is designed to optimize its functioning. The neurofeedback system allows for the brain to see its own maladaptive habits and change them as it sees fit. There is no outside variable forcing change.
The neurofeedback system is like a mirror and each central nervous system (CNS) changes itself to optimize its own functioning, whether it be an ability to focus when needed, go into sleep mode at night, be calm when there’s no danger, etc.
Is NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Safe?
Yes. NeurOptimal® neurofeedback is safe for anyone to use at any age. Why? Because nothing is being added to your brain.
Does Neurofeedback Have Side Effects?
No. This kind of neurofeedback training cannot hurt you nor create side effects. NeurOptimal® doesn’t push the brain. It is completely non-invasive and nothing is added to your system. During a session, the brain is alerted to pay attention at exactly the right millisecond when it can shift its habitual patterns. Any noticeable shifts in your mood, awareness or energy level after brain training really depends on the individual and can vary from session to session.
Is NeurOptimal® FDA Approved?
Yes. In 2018, after years of submitting information to the FDA, NeurOptimal® received the General Wellness Device designation they wanted for their device, as a safe product to be used directly by consumers. This designation, as contrasted to a Medical Device, which requires oversight by a medical health professional, meant that the FDA concluded the systems was safe to use by consumers directly. Read the FDA Guideline statements from NeurOptimal® here.
What's New With NeurOptimal® 3?
What's New With NeurOptimal® 3?
Easy to use Touchscreen Interface
Larger set of 20 targets instead of 16 – Including high Hz, up to 63 Hz
Simpler process, easier to start a session and a feature to pause a session
New custom-made music
How Are The Benefits From NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Measured?
The NeurOptimal® system was designed so that the individual's self-assessment is the main tool for tracking changes, rather than data generated by the system itself.
This approach facilitates change in two ways. One, is that it cultivates the individuals ability to be aware of changes as they occur. (For children, parents and teachers are encouraged to fill out tracking tools.) The second, is that the broad changes happen when the brain optimizes its overall performance get captured, rather than just the specific changes the individual was focused on.
Having a self-reporting tool that is filled out every 8-10 sessions helps clients build awareness of the changes that are happening as they train. Over ten years we refined our Checklist of Concerns to capture the information most helpful for tracking a broad range of areas including cognitive, emotional, and behavioral indicators. This checklist asks clients to rate their concerns from 1-10 (10 being the worst) and helps us track quantitative changes. For example, when clients see their rate of 10 for "Feelings of Worry, Fear or Anguish" turn into a 4, they know something is shifting in their mood.
Using a self-reporting tool also helps to stay disciplined with continuing sessions. When they see the shifts in numbers, alongside noticing feeling differently they will keep their home training going.
Watch related Video:
Does NeurOptimal® Require A QEEG Or Brainmap Before Starting?
No, only the first generation of neurofeedback systems need a brain map to be conducted before starting neurofeedback. This assessment tool is used for deciding what brainwaves needs to be altered. The protocols are then set to shift the brain's habitual patterns. Though essential for some protocol systems, the limitation of a map is that it is a static source of information that quickly can become outdated. NeurOptimal® is a Dynamical Neurofeedback® system that measures information while it is in movement, not in a linear moment in time. It is important that the measure is fluid and not a still picture. Once a picture (QEEG) has been taken that moment is gone and is now a historical point. NeurOptimal® is always dynamic, fluid and real- time. The BEST way to measure one’s progress & shifts is via our self-reporting Checklist Form. Scroll down to learn more
What's The Purpose Of The Music?
How neurofeedback works is actually not about the particular sound or sight but rather how the orienting or “pay attention to yourself” response of the brain gets triggered by stopping the music or visual display. We are “bio-hacking” by interrupting the habitual patterns through the use of the brain’s natural information gathering process, the orienting response. It’s triggered by interrupting the music which triggers the awareness response of the automatic functioning CNS to come into the present moment . This serves as an opportunity for the mal-adaptive habits, such as constantly being in a state of stress, to be revealed.
So while there is the necessity for sound it’s not the particulars of it, that make the neurofeedback work. It the interruption process at the exact millisecond the brain is about to change states (read by the electrical patterning) and perform an action that is key for the ‘feedback.’
How Long Is A NeurOptimal® Session?
Will My Insurance Cover Neurofeedback?
Check with your insurance company to see if it covers neurofeedback. Most insurance consider it “experimental” and don’t cover it. The good news is that an out-of-pocket home rental is roughly the same cost per session of a co-pay.
Is It OK If I Do Other Things While I do a Neurofeedback Session?
Can I Read, Talk Or Play Games On IPad, Etc.?
Yes! The NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback System does not require you to place your attention on the training screen in order to run a successful session. The feedback comes primarily through interruptions in the music/audio. If you can hear the music, then the training session will be successful. You can read, sleep, meditate, whatever you feel inclined to do.
Do The Effects Of Neurofeedback Last?
Training with NeurOptimal® is actually a learning task. You get results because your brain is actively learning, even if you are not doing the learning consciously. So much like reading, once your brain knows how to read, it can’t “not know”. Your brain doesn’t forget. It may get rusty, and fall back into bad habits, especially when there are new or increased stressors.
However, your brain is living tissue and you can— and will— get "knocked off" by stress, toxins, poor nutrition illness, and environmental stressors. When you notice that you are less resilient, more irritable or distracted it may be time for a few booster sessions. A "neurofeedback trained brain" is quickly able to utilize the information NeurOptimal® is offering.
If you are going through a more difficult time, you can quickly do a session or two at one of our neurofeedback clinics in NYC, Denver, Boulder or Pasadena to recover your optimal flow and functioning. Our system is also available to re-rent which many of our rental clients do every 6-8 months ago for a month or once per year after the initial brain training period. View pricing.
Real-time Feedback - What Happens in a NeurOptimal® Session?
NeurOptimal® is designed to give real-time feedback to the brain moment-by-moment. Read our Definition of Neurofeedback
The training works by alerting your automatic functioning part of the brain to its own actions (this part controls the fear response, flight/flight/freeze, sleep, attentiveness, executive functioning, etc.) so it can ‘see’ its own maladaptive patterns. Because the brain is designed to be responsive to new information, when the NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback System alerts the brain to its own functioning the brain will naturally tweak itself to be the most efficient and effective response. It’s as if the brain, upon being alerted to its own behaviour says “hey, I’m about to produce a stress response when I’m sitting in a safe space. That’s not efficient or an appropriate response. I’m going to change what I’m doing.”
Watch Related Videos:
- What to expect in a NeurOptimal® session at home or in our neurofeedback centers
- How Many Neurofeedback Sessions Do I Need?
- Is it Possible to Engage in Other Activities During a Neurofeedback Session? Watch this short video of a NeurOptimal Brain Training Session
What Is The Difference Between NeurOptimal® And Other Systems?
A first crucial difference is that when using NeurOptimal® there is no need for diagnosis. Why is this? NeurOptimal is designed to give the brain information about what it has just done. The brain then uses this information to organize itself. During a session, the client listens to music or watches a movie file (avi, mov or other popular movie formats). The music/movie plays continuously when the brain is running “on course” (whatever that course is for that particular brain) but as soon as NeurOptimal detects that the brain has “veered off” its path or has become less stable than what it just was, feedback is provided to the brain via a very brief pause in the sound. By offering this information NeurOptimal gives the opportunity to the brain to adapt itself in response to the information, which then provides yet new and different information for NeurOptimal to mirror back. Like a dance, NeurOptimal and the brain adapt to each other microsecond by microsecond, dynamically adjusting their steps based on what the other has just done.
This dynamic perspective is extremely different from the other, traditional neurofeedback systems. These systems require you to diagnose ahead, sometimes via what is called a QEEG or brain map, which is a decision on which direction the practitioner feels the brain needs to be pushed as a result of a single static picture taken days or weeks earlier. These are called protocols. Diagnosing and then treating in this way is actually a VERY awkward and slow feedback loop from NeurOptimal®’s perspective that does not offer the on-going “self-correction” that naturally happens as part of the brain’s dance with itself.
With NeurOptimal® the brain is simply interacting adaptively with itself moment by moment, not striving to produce "more" of some frequency and "less" of another according to an outside “expert”. While those kinds of changes may be observed, they occur as part of an intrinsic self-organizing principal rather than an artificially imposed constraint. This is a large part of both the inherent power and safety of NeurOptimal and how it invites seamless change.
- How will I know neurofeedback is working?
- Discover the Effectiveness of Neurofeedback: Read Testimonials from Home Renters
What Are My Best Neurofeedback Training Options?
The NeurOptimal® System is a fully automated neurofeedback system and is specifically designed for home use. We provide in-office sessions with strict COVID-19 protocols in NYC, Los Angeles (Pasadena), Denver & Boulder. The system used at our in-office sessions is also available for rent or purchase.
All our rentals include everything you need to do neurofeedback training sessions at home. Including an exclusive set-up-guide with steps to start a session and how to apply the sensors, a Microsoft tablet with the latest NeurOptimal 3 software, EEG sensors, and amplifier, and conductive paste. The home rental system provides the exact same effective brain training as in-office sessions. Renting the neurofeedback at-home equipment saves approximately 50% over in-office sessions.
Here's a testimonial from a family who underwent neurofeedback training together
This was a wonderful experience! We rented a unit for 6 weeks and used it as a family and I noticed that I was much calmer and less reactive after the 6 weeks. It was very easy to do and I started seeing it as relaxing "me time." My husband said he was more focused and my son said he "felt happier". We will definitely be renting on a yearly basis for "boosters". I highly recommend this if you feel anxious, reactive or have some internal tension you want to work through. =)
We also heard from this young professional who sought out neurofeedback at home after struggling with socializing
Neurofeedback with this team has been such an incredible experience. Throughout the couple of months of feedback, my fear and worry dramatically lessened. I used to have physical reactions to social interactions, seeing old friends and anything that was a big deal for me. I would get massive stress rash, my heart rate soared and I had so much nervous sweat - until the last couple weeks (post feedback) I have literally had no reaction in the 3 big meetings since then. I didn’t even know that could be fixed! 100% I recommend take the step toward better mental wellness. I feel like I can function now.
This client noticed immediate change in her overall well-being;
I had a great experience with my neurofeedback home rental system. It was easy to use, and after just 12 sessions (one month) I definitely felt more focused and creative with my work. I also slept better and my mood improved. My mind felt overall more relaxed and peaceful. Would highly recommend giving this a try!
Renting A Home System: Your Questions Answered
NeurOptimal@ Rental Prices: How much does the Neurofeedback equipment cost to rent?
We offer three different monthly neurofeedback package plans to rent. The price per session can be as low as $40, even more, if choosing the Unlimited Package Plan. See our pricing here. The minimum rental period is one month and lasts for 30 days. The rental plan starts the day after you pick up or receive the system and can be extended for additional months. Free shipping throughout the U.S., including return shipment and shipping insurance. Shipment to Canada is free one-way.
How soon can I get my home rental?
If your online reservation and the contract has been submitted, it takes 1-2 business days for shipment via FedEx (depending on where in the USA you are located).
If in New York, Southern California, or Colorado, it takes one business day. For Canada, please expect 2-4 business days. Once the equipment has been shipped, you will receive automated emails from FedEx. View our shipping policy here.
Can I pick up the system in person?
Yes, pick up and drop off is available at our office in Manhattan.
Good to know about the shipment
- Signature is required. Please make sure someone will be home to sign for the package. Alternatively, call FedEx directly to have the package on hold at their facilities and pick it up from there.
- You’ll receive automated notifications directly from FedEx.
- Save the box and reuse it when returning.
- The rental month begins the day after receiving the system.
View the cost of renting a system and how to get started here.
Does the paste have to be purchased separately?
No, the NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Rental Package comes with all the materials necessary to run the training sessions. The only item you’d need are headphones (regular headphones or earplugs are good). Alternatively, listen to the sound from the tablet's speaker.
How long is a NeurOptimal session?
A standard session is 33 minutes, and it takes about 45 -50 minutes to add and remove the sensors after use. When renting your own home system, one can also set up to do an extended (44 min.), but no data supports a longer version, which is better. All research done by NeurOptimal® has been done using the standard session length.
How many sessions should I run per week when I rent?
We usually recommend 2-3 sessions per week per trainee, though you can train daily. When you rent, the minimum we recommend is twice per week because, through the training, the brain is learning a new way of decision-making, and, like learning a new language, the more frequently the brain practices, the faster we learn.
If I do 30 sessions in 30 days, will that have the same effect as 30 sessions over three months?
No, not necessarily. While your brain will learn a lot about itself if you train every day for a month, the value of spreading that training over three months is that it gives your behavior and thought patterns time to adapt. For example, when the brain learns it doesn't need to stay in an anxious fight/flight pattern, it will want to hang out less in highly anxious environments.
What if one cannot perform all included sessions in one month?
The monthly fee is regardless of how many sessions one completes. If you don't finish all sessions in the first month, you can always extend the rental for another month or two weeks and pay for another rental cycle. You can also downgrade or upgrade to another plan. View Pricing
How many home neurofeedback sessions should I run per week?
We usually recommend three to four home sessions per week per trainee, though you can train every day if you so wish, as this neurofeedback training is 100% non-invasive. The minimum we recommend is twice per week when renting because, through the training, you are learning a new way of decision-making, and, like learning a new language, the more frequently the brain practices, the faster we learn.
What do I do if I have trouble with my equipment?
When you rent from us you'll be assigned a neurofeedback trainer coach to guide you if you need extra help. Every rental includes a printed manual on how to use the system as well as how to troubleshoot. Usually, a reboot of the system helps, but if not, email your rental manager or use the chat widget on our website with a description of the problem and include the best way/time to reach you. It's important that you read the printout that came with the equipment and follow our guidelines on handling the equipment. What is the minimum and maximum amount of time I can rent the NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Trainer?
You can rent the neurofeedback equipment for one month and extend it as long as you wish. Our clients report the best results have been renting for two to three months. The minimum payment is one month. Pay as you go, extend for another month or two weeks after the first month's rental.
Are the rental systems software up-to-date?
Yes, all our rental's NeurOptimal software is up-to-date before shipment and includes the latest software, NeurOptimal 3.
What is included in the rental? Do I need to get my own paste?
You'll receive all training materials (including conductive EEG paste), access to online tech support for troubleshooting the equipment, and regular check-ins with staff neurofeedback trainers via text, email, or phone. We do not provide headphones, but any headphones can be used except wireless ones or alternatively, use the built-in speakers from the tablet. Please note: Access to the internet is required to allow the software to do automatic updates to function properly. If you do not have internet access, let us know before renting.
Why do we recommend that a parent train if they rent a machine primarily for their child’s issues?
Your child’s brain/central nervous system (CNS) is learning to assess current needs by gathering information in the here and now rather than using habitual information/neural pathways. “An ineffective Brain” prone to heightened feelings of anger, worry, and nervousness results from maladaptive brain responses based on using habitual information/neural pathways to function, not realizing that those responses are not appropriate to the present task. (For example, why should the brain produce a fear state when there is no threat?) A major shift through training is your child’s brain learns to be in a state called regulation: calm, alert, and open to the here-and-now, and only become active only when their is an event that needs action.
This learning process is sped up when a primary caregiver’s brain is also learning the same process of being regulated–calm, centered, and open. Why? As you see in pack animal behaviors, children’s brains tune themselves to their caregivers’ brains. If the parent is anxious, the child will also become anxious. If the parent becomes calm, the child’s brain will shift, like tuning forks resonating. A wonderful example of this attunement process is watching The Dog Whisperer on National Geographic. In the episodes, you will see examples of how Cesar (the alpha dog trainer), who is “calm assertive,” i.e., has a regulated CNS, works with an anxious/fearful/aggressive dog through the natural attunement process where a beta dog’s CNS aligns with an alpha’s CNS.
What if a sensor falls off during the session?
Put it back into place and relax. If it's been off for two minutes, restart the session and notify your rental manager (unless you have the Unlimited Plan). If training with a small child, check on the sensor placement now and then.
What if one cannot perform all included sessions in one month?
The monthly fee is regardless of how many sessions one completes. If you don't finish all sessions in the first month, you can always extend an additional month (or two weeks) to finish all your sessions. You can also downgrade or upgrade to another plan if needed. If you rent any of the lower-cost plans and didn't finish all the sessions, please know that they roll over to the next rental period. See here for pricing.
What do I do if I have trouble with my equipment?
It's important that you read the printed Guidelines that came with the equipment and follow our instructions on handling the equipment. A reboot of the system usually always helps and makes sure all cords are plugged in. If that doesn't help, email your rental manager immediately (or use the Chat Widget in the lower right corner) with your name, a problem description, and the best way/time to reach you. We may then instruct you to connect with Tech Support (ZenConnect) from your device to allow technicians to troubleshoot. We'll put your rental on hold for up to 24h to allow troubleshooting time. Contact us here.
Why do I not need a brain mapping scan or EEG map when using NeurOptimal?
NeurOptimal® is considered to be a dynamical, non-linear neurofeedback system rather than a protocol-based or linear neurofeedback systems. There is no brain mapping or neurofeedback expert needed. No diagnosis is needed no long questionnaires, and no expensive brain mapping or QEEGs. Learn the difference.
NeurOptimal Vs. Other Neurofeedback Systems
- NeurOptimal focuses on optimizing brain functioning by improving the central nervous system’s flexibility, resilience, and stability. It is important to understand that training with NeurOptimal is not treatment. It’s training your central nervous system to work more efficiently and effectively. "Problems" and "issues" then naturally melt away. Other systems: The focus is on treatment.
- NeurOptimal® provides moment-to-moment feedback on the brain’s activity. The brain makes adjustments using real-time feedback across a wide spectrum of frequencies to increase overall mental fitness. There is no separate assessment needed. Other systems: Weekly or monthly feedback from the patient is used to evaluate and control the training regimen. This is time-consuming and costly, often doubling session time at no additional benefit.
- NeurOptimal® does not push the brain – it simply offers information. The brain does the rest naturally. Other systems: Pushes the brain to do more or less of something as the practitioner decides.