Choosing a Neurofeedback Program: Cygnet, NeurOptimal, LENS and More

There are many types of neurofeedback programs that aid the human brain in various ways. Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback) trains the brain to self regulate and function in the most optimal and stabilized ranges. This is executed by placing electrodes on the scalp to listen to or read brainwave activity. These neurofeedback programs then take the brainwave activity and provide it back to the person and their brain in various forms of feedback (auditory, visual and sometimes tactile). This feedback then helps the brain gain information on how it’s functioning and can learn how to function optimally with practice and immediate feedback during the treatment. 

Optimal functioning includes better regulated emotional responses, balanced and stable physiological systems, more effective mental performance and a regulated central nervous system. Neurofeedback can help individuals with issues such as anxiety, depression, attention or hyperactivity issues (ADHD), behavior disorders, various sleep disorders, headaches, migraines, PTSD, seizures, trauma, TBI, and those related to the Autism Spectrum.

There are a few key points to consider when choosing a neurofeedback brain training system.  

EEG neurofeedback headset and computer. Electroencephalography concept on white background.

Essential Learning Points From This Episode

  1. Clinicians: Some protocol-based programs require a brain map or QEEG before starting and this requires clinicians who are experienced with administering and reading QEEGs. The QEEG then directs which protocols are used for the neurofeedback treatment. Some programs require clinicians to provide highly individualized training for the most effective impact. These include Cygnet and Othmer programs who use protocols as a guide, while still utilizing the clinician’s clinical judgment to modify the treatment plan based on the individual’s and brain’s responses. Other programs do not require a clinician or their clinical judgment and can provide a one-size fits all approach, making it easier to administer the neurofeedback at home, although decreases the individualized and responsive approach. Here at San Diego Center for Neurofeedback, APPC (SDCNF), we utilize a protocol-based guided approach along with the clinical judgment of our clinicians to provide a highly individualized and responsive approach based on each client’s situation, symptoms, and their brain’s responses. Furthermore, SDCNF works as a team so each client receives input, knowledge and clinical experience from our two doctoral Clinical Psychologists and several Master’s level clinicians every week.
  2. Cost: In general, neurofeedback training is an investment in yourself, your family, and your future. There are many inexpensive products that declare to offer similar results in the $200 range that provide basic monitoring and triggering of the brain to change its state but can not keep up with the lightening speed of the brain (Baker, Natalie). Baker expressed that the “highest quality neurofeedback training systems range from $7,000 for a home system to over $10,000 for a professional one” (Baker, Natalie). Some programs require a 3-D brain map or QEEG that can cost $700 to $3,000 prior to the actual neurofeedback training. Programs for rent to be used at home may cost from $600 to $900 a month, depending on the number of sessions and number of family members training. Most neurofeedback appointments in the office with a clinician range between $100 – $300. San Diego Center for Neurofeedback, APPC provides appointments in the office, including evenings and weekends. Please contact us for the fee schedule. 
  3. Electrical Currents: Baker proclaims that it is necessary to know that “True neurofeedback devices do not add any electrical waves or currents to the brain” and if they do, is not a feedback device (Baker, Natalie). These devices work by introducing electrical currents to the scalp to affect one’s brain and change it which is why it’s important to first decide if you want the device to send additional electrical currents to your brain when picking out a system (Baker, Natalie).  San Diego Center for Neurofeedback, APPC neurofeedback program does not input any electrical currents or electromagnetic pulses into the brain. SDCNF’s true neurofeedback system only reads brainwaves and provides that information back to the brain in a way the brain can recognize and learn from itself. 
  4. Other aspects to consider when choosing the best fit for you:
    • Electrodes: a full 10-20 electrode cap versus a few electrodes; this is important if an individual is going to work, school, or in public afterwards as electrodes require EEG Paste for EEG reading and a few electrodes means significant less paste to remove before leaving the appointment
    • Experience with Children: neurofeedback treatment can be provided to such a wide range of ages from really young children to elderly, however finding a provider who is experienced in working with children is helpful as many children cannot report their symptoms or brain responses like adults
    • Appointment availability: recommended treatment is twice a week so finding a provider who is available twice a week on a consistent basis is ideal; evening and weekend appointments are a bonus
    • Symptom tracking: to determine the brain responses to neurofeedback, it’s recommended to track the individual’s symptoms; brain training and learning is a slow and steady process so it’s sometimes difficult to see the changes without the tracking (much like seeing a child’s growth every day versus seeing them once a year)

Neurofeedback Programs:

  • Cygnet – neurofeedback program that allows for Clinicians trained in the Othmer method to create each individual’s treatment plan, using research-based protocols as a guide and making clinical adjustments throughout the treatment to find optimal effectiveness. Cygnet and the Othmer method allow for a more hands-on and individualized interaction between the client and the clinician by modifying the training every step along the way based on current symptoms and the brain’s response for more effective and accelerated learning. Cygnet is able to provide both Infra-Low (below .1Hz) and Alpha Theta neurofeedback training (eeginfo.com).San Diego Center for Neurofeedback, APPC provides neurofeedback with this revolutionary Cygnet program and our providers are trained in the Othmer method to administer the most individualized and effective neurofeedback treatment.  
  • BrainPaint neurofeedback program that requires a clinician who is able to follow the automated protocols and automated tools (brainpaint.com)
  • NeurOptimal – neurofeedback program that allows renting or purchasing equipment for at home use; more of a one-size fits all approach that can be administered by an individual who is not trained in neurofeedback (neuroptimal.com)
  • LoReta – requires a QEEG brain map, z-scores and a full 10-20 electrode cap along with an experienced clinician in the office (biofeedback-tech.com)
  • Other Brain Training products that can be used concurrently with Neurofeedback:
    • Low Energy Neurofeedback System (LENS) – a form of “stim” technology that provide pulsed electricity or pulsed electromagnetic signals to stimulate brain’s activity (chicagomindsolutions.com)
    • Alpha-Stim – cranial electrotherapy stimulation (alpha-stim.com)
    • NeuroSky – EEG Biosensor to read brain activity for apps (neurosky.com)
    • Muse – Senses your brain wave activity for meditation (choosemuse.com)
Picture of a young woman with electrodes in her head to record psychophysiological signals for research purposes. Electrocardiogram (ECG), electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrooculogram (EOG) being recorded in a laboratory environment.

Neurofeedback provides advanced ways to aid individuals’ brains in self regulating and thereby treating symptoms from their anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, depression, migraines, PTSD, sleep disorders, trauma, TBI, and more. For more information on neurofeedback and why we chose Cygnet and are trained in the Othmer method, please Contact Us or visit San Diego Center for Neurofeedback, APPC.

~Written by Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD and Lily Schmitt.

References

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