Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New York Neurofeedback Blog Has a New Home

Our blog is now fully integrated into our website and has a new url. Please join us there for ongoing posts about neurofeedback, brain science and related topics.

New York Neurofeedback Blog's New Home

The website also has all new fractal images, which I hope you will also enjoy.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Daytime Risks of Nighttime Sleep Aids

This month The New York Times published an article on important current research into the safety of sleep medications.

The safety and effectiveness for falling asleep is always studied prior to being put on the market (which doesn't mean risks don't come to light later). The newer research is also studying to what degree functioning is affected the morning after.

To Judge Sleep Aids, U.S. Looks at Drowsy Driving in the Morning, by Katie Thomas. She talks about research results and some pretty harrowing statistics. I'll let you read those for yourself. She also talks about some strong steps the FDA has taken, including:
  • Rejecting Merck's latest sleep drug because people had difficulty driving the next day.
  • Requiring that the dosage of Ambien and its generic form zolpiderm be cut in half for women.
  • Warning that the sedative effects of allergy medication Benadryl - often purchased over the counter for use as a sleep aid - can persist into the next day.
Have you read the "don't operate heavy machinery" warning so often that you ignore it? My advice is to think again.

If you are interested in an alternative to prescribed or over-the-counter sleep aids, many chronic sleep problems respond well to neurofeedback.  As a NeurOptimal® neurofeedback trainer for ten years now, I've seen some terrific results, both professionally and personally (which is how I became a trainer).

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback

Monday, August 12, 2013

Romancing the Wind

This is an under six-minute video that I felt had to be shared. It might just be impossible to not feel good watching it. It's a kite ballet performed to the Flower Duet from Lakme by Delibes.

Wonderful, isn't it?

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback

Monday, July 29, 2013

How the Adult Brain Learns

You can teach an old dog new tricks.

This fascinating article, Learning Mechanism of the Adult Brain Revealed, was published last year in Science Daily. The whole article is well worth reading (and not long). I'll just summarize the results from research conducted by the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience.

  • Learning new skills decreases the number of synapses (connectors) in the brain that inhibit nerve cell activity.
  • These inhibitory cells are replaced by synapses, including new inhibitory synapses.
  • We don't do this in the quantities of neural activity we had as children when we were learning to see, hear, walk, talk, etc., but...
  • we age we continue to be able to change our neural networks, which means we keep learning.

This is also good news for treatment of disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy. Possibilities for intervention are expanded if the inability to develop inhibitory synapses is, as is suspected, part of these disorders.

What does this have to do with neurofeedback? NeurOptimal® is a tuneup for the brain. Whatever your ability to make new synapses is, at any age neurofeedback training - a process in which the brain learns - is going to help you operate at your potential.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rethinking Sleep

The way we sleep - and don't sleep - today is creating a nation of sleep-deprived citizens. The problem may not be that we don't get the eight hour block of sleep a night that most of us believe is what is needed and natural.

Evidence from journals and other records suggests that prior to the electric light and the Industrial Revolution, people slept in two blocks of time, rather than the "straight through" that we think is ideal.

Read more in "Rethinking Sleep," a fascinating New York Times article by David K.Randal. It looks like sleeping this way, in chunks with a break in between, results in more alertness, energy, productivity and creativity.

Although the way life is set up for most of us today doesn't make it easy, you may be inspired to try something new - that is actually old - with your sleep. I've tried it and I like it. A lot.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Importance of Body Language

Great TED video on body language by Harvard Associate Professor Amy Cuddy.

We all use our right hemispheres to read body language and derive information from it. Some of what is covered in this fascinating talk is:
  • Many familiar body language expressions are universal and have persisted across thousands and thousands of years.
  • Power dynamics are expressed non-verbally - and we recognize what's being communicated.
  • If you change your body language, you can change not just how you are perceived but probably also how you think and feel about yourself - and how you participate in life. For example, Cuddy's research has shown that adopting a high power body position causes  hormonal changes such as an increase in testosterone.

Well worth watching - and you'll get to do a two-minute experiment on yourself.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback

Monday, June 10, 2013

Neurofeedback, Focus and Attention

Toluca Lake, California NeurOptimal® colleague Jules Ford (owner of OptiMind Neurofeedback) posted a delightful story in one of our trainer forums about her son's science project. It was a study he designed around neurofeedback and its benefits to focus and attention, issues ADHD kids struggle with daily.

I liked the story so much I asked Jules for permission to publish it here on the blog.
The study was for a seventh grade science project. Here is how it went, in Jules' own words.
After discussing neurofeedback with his teacher, they designed a study together. I volunteered my time for training - but the data collection and analysis was all up to my son. Granted, it was a small sample and since it wasn't all done in a clinical setting it would be disqualified as REAL science, but for a middle school project, the results were amazing.
Study: Does Neurofeedback Help To Improve Focus/Attention?
Nine subjects had five sessions of neurofeedback, nine control subjects did not. Before the study, all were tested using a Lumosity game, Lost In Migration, to get a baseline for their attention/reaction time. After each neurofeedback session, the study subjects took the test again. At similar intervals, the control subjects also re-took the test. All students did the Lumosity game six times. All study subjects did regular NeurOptimal sessions with default music. I allowed them to pass the time however they wanted and saw kids doing Rubik's cubes, homework, reading, texting or playing on their phones, even playing Minecraft on laptops they brought in for that purpose.
When the study was complete, here were the results:
  • Kids who did neurofeedback decreased their response time on the game an average of 27.29% vs. an average of 7.18% decrease for control subjects.
  • Neurofeedback kids also improved their accuracy on the game an average of 6.31% vs. a 2.51% accuracy increase in control subjects.
  • Additionally, those kids who did neurofeedback reported better understanding in math, easier reading, better sleep, decrease in headaches and, my favorite, a student athlete who is 100% crediting his neurofeedback with smoking track times - he set records at his last two meets.
45 hours of neurofeedback time was a lot to give, but I was pleased to give it to help show concretely that NeurOptimal really makes a difference, even in as few as five sessions.
I love this story. Although the children in the study did not have any known diagnoses, the results match my experience working with adults with ADD and ADHD and also for peak performance in work and sports.

Questions or comments? Please post here, or you are also welcome to email me. If you are close to Toluca Lake and want to know more, you can contact Jules.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback