What is Neurofeedback | FAQ's
Read frequently asked questions about NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback such as; is it safe? how does it work?, how many sessions do I need? and where to find neurofeedback near me?
Read also neurofeedback user reviews on their success below.
Have a question? Chat with us! Use the widget in lower right corner to talk to an experienced trainer today!
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.
Related Video: Watch a NeurOptimal® Explanation Video by Zengar Institute
Real-time Feedback - What Happens in a NeurOptimal® Sesssion?
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.”
Related Video: What To Expect In a NeurOptimal® Session
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.
Related: Read our Definition of Neurofeedback
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.
Related Article: Is Neurofeedback Safe? Read a Comparison of Different Systems
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
Related: What's better with NeurOptimal 3.5?
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.
This Checklist shows a before and after 10 sessions (or a month of neurofeedback training at home). Dramatic changes can be seen in this client's sleep regimen as well stress response (worrying less, body or vocal tics decreased from a 10 to a 5, and client noticed feeling more comfortable in ones body.
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.
Related Video: How Many Neurofeedback Sessions Do I Need?
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 very seamless change.
Related Video: Is all Neurofeedback Technology the Same?
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
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.
Related Video: Will My Results from NeurOptimal® Last?
Related Article: How will I know neurofeedback is working?
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.’
Related: Is Neurofeedback Effective? Read Reviews from Home Renters
How Long Is A NeurOptimal® Session?
Is it OK if I do other things while training such as 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.
Related YouTube Video: Can I Do Other Things While Doing a Neurofeedback Session?
Will My Insurance Cover NeurOptimal® 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.
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 includes 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 3.0 software, EEG sensors and amplifier, as well as 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.
During the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, renters reported they were able to cope better with life's stressors as their brain gradually was able to shift out of fear and worry and become calmer.
Here's a review from a family who trained together at home during the COVID-19 pandemic in Los Angeles, Spring 2021:
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 with others after society opened up again after the Covid-19 lockdown;
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!
Q&A On Renting A Home System
NeurOptimal@ Rental Prices: How much does the Neurofeedback equipment cost to rent?
We offer three different monthly neurofeedback package plans to rent. Price per session can be as low as $40, even more if choosing the Unlimited Package Plan. See our pricing here. 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. We ship throughout U.S. for a flat-rate of $75 - $90, including return shipment and shipping insurance. Shipment to Canada costs $150 (2 months minimum).
Does the paste have to be purchased separately?
No, the NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Rental Package comes with all of the materials necessary to run the training sessions. Only item you’d need are headphones (any regular headphones or earplugs are good to use). Alternatively, listen to the sound from the tablet's speaker.
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 every day. 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 3 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 those trainings over 3 months is that it gives your behaviour 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's going to 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 the first month, you can always extend the rental for an additional month or two weeks and pay for another rental cycle. You can also downgrade or upgrade to another plan. View pricing
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 are in need of 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 print out that came with the equipment and follow our guidelines how to handle the equipment. View a detailed renting guide here which includes videos on how to set up the equipment at home.
What is the minimum and maximum amount of time for which I can rent the NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Trainer?
You can rent the neurofeedback equipment for one month and extend as long as you wish. Our client's report the best results has been renting for two to three months. Minimum payment is one month. Pay as you go, extend for another month or two weeks after the first month's rental.
Why do we recommend that a parent also train if they are renting a machine primarily for their child’s issues?
Your child’s brain/central nervous system (CNS), is learning to assess current needs from 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 are the result of maladaptive brain responses that are 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 an fear state when their 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 process of learning is sped up when a primary caregiver’s brain is also learning the same process of being regulated–calm, centered, open. Why? Because just like 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 also shift, like tuning forks resonating with each other. A wonderful example of this process of attunement is to watch 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.