Education should embrace training the mind to focus and self-regulate.
Schools are the Primary Brain Altering Institution.
Education alters brains. Brain maps show large differences
compared with the unschooled. Schools fulfill their duty by
creating complex and sophisticated neural networks inside our children’s
heads. The District is responsible for altering the structure of
each student’s brain and brain functioning, in many ways, every day of
the week. This is good.
A school does not need special permission to fulfill it’s
mission. Teaching brain wave control is just like teaching how to
learn. That’s exactly what it is – awareness training to enhance
capacity for education.
Neurofeedback is a kind of biofeedback, which is purely
learning. You interact with a display of your psysiology.
The goal is improved awareness leading to greater self-regulation.
That it education.
The District Should Assert the Right to do Neurofeedback.
Here is a principle worth fighting for. If a physcian does
neurofeedback in her office, it is medicine. If a psychologist
does neurofeedback treatement, it is therapy. If a teacher does
neurofeedback in school, then it’s education.
Neurofeedback has been proven to aid reading, listening, speaking
and writing, and mathematics in all types of students, especially
special needs students. The “proof of efficacy” is much more
substantial than that for any of the other programs the District has
already adopted for remedial programs. If eating at the
cafeteria and riding the bus are safe, then neurofeedback is very
Neurofeedback training can be offered in any classroom, in a
practioner’s office, in the student’s home as a stand alone unit, or via
the internet anywhere, anytime. We are dealing with a device that
reads 2 millivolts of electricity emanating from a scalp which is then
shown on a screen or handheld device. Retain the right to call
neurofeedback an educational toy, to be used at will, and control goes
up and costs go way down.
Anyone can now buy EEG machines or neurofeedback devices for $1000
over the internet and EBay. Just wear, use and improve! One
can also become certified by professional associations. Teachers
can be trained in as little as 2-4 hours of video training with ongoing
The District is given much room in defining a category and
‘ownership’ of the nature of this ‘intervention’. If the District
could characterize neurofeedback as educational, it would assert the
largest freedom in setting the rules because it falls directly under
their purview. And sets an enlightened precedent for others to
A pilot program which includes the best and brightest students and
athletes in the district would establish the point of pan-educational
benefits. This would be a savvy introduction and ‘branding’ in
student’s minds. I’ll bet the science and engineering Olympiad
students could design a wearable wireless brainwave transmitter read by a
robot. Each team member could control separate robot functions by
adjusting their neural output.
Neurofeedback devices are sold to schools with only one video tape
for instruction on use. Volunteers and college students have been
trained to do neurofeedback sessions on 2776 felons over 25 years with
no bad sessions. Re-arrest rates dropped to only 15% after 3
Is it an Assistive Technology Device and Service? If you want
it to be, then yes, but this puts into the Special Ed category. It
need not reside there because of it’s broad use by non-disabled
students. You can expect neurofeedback to be requested as part of
IEP under 504/ADA. The easiest thing to do at first in to refer to local
practitioners. Look for BCIA certification, but this is not
Neurofeedback is a successful treatment with a significant
proportion of students with the following disorders (incomplete):
ADHD, alcoholism, anxiety, autism, depression, dyslexia, epilepsy, fibromyalgia,
headaches, head injury, IBS, juvenile delinquency (recidivism),
mental retardation, migraines, mild traumatic brain injury, panic, PTSD,
PMS, Reynard’s, sleep disorders, speech and language impairment,
dysgraphia and dyscalculia, as well as for those with poor visual and
Is There Good Evidence for Educational Programs Adopted at Lower Merion?
The following programs are supported by the District for Special Needs students.
Orton Gillingham, the Wilson reading system, Fast Forward,
Lindamood-Bell, Resource Room, Instructional Support Lab, REACH, N.O.W.,
P.R.I.D.E., and Specialized Learning Support.
“Data driven decision making” is a catch phrase in the No Child Left Behind legislation.
The evidence of efficacy is quite mild that any of these programs
actually do what they purport to do. The best proof for any of
these programs are weak outcome studies. The quality of evidence
for neurofeedback is greatly superior to all of these studies
Neurofeedback research is promising, consistent, long standing and
voluminous. Yet there has not been funding for the large scale
science needed to reach the highest standard of proof which would change
medical paradigms. But this standard of proof is beyond anything
used in education.
“We need to get these kids into better physical condition!
Their muscles are weak, stamina is poor and they’re pudgy.”
So let’s get a variety of experts in here and see what they can
do. A pilot study includes the star of an exercise video, a
personal trainer, an exercise physiologist, a YMCA tennis coach, a yoga
teacher, and the Norditrac vendor. They are all given grants for
training one hour a day for 2 months. Voila! Everything
works! Muscles stronger, better stamina, and fewer pounds.
The differences with conditioning of the brain are that results are
more enduring and it is safer than some of these approaches. The
similarity is that various neurofeedback proponents have different
approaches which have a history of success.