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Frequently Asked Questions What is it? Who does what? Causes, etc.


What is CNS?
Does electricity or radiation of any kind enter my body?

What is CNS?
Central Nervous System.  It is central to all that you do.  There are 2 branches of the autonomic nervous system sympathetic (fight r flight) and parasympathetic (rest n digest).

Does electricity or radiation of any kind enter my body?
No, none, ever.  Sensors merely read your energy level. 

What is my job (as a client) during an EEG session?   
Do let me know your preferences as we go.  Otherwise you need to do almost nothing.  The most useful instruction I will give you is:  Allow there to be sounds.  The biofeedback information is absorbed by your entire central nervous system. 

Frankly, it is best to get the conscious mind out of the way.  I will not have to instruct you to relax; it is a side effect of the training.  I work with your entire spectrum of brain waves.  The conscious mind that wants to help the biofeedback process, is only a small part of the CNS.  The best you can do is not interfere with yourself.  The problem that EEG biofeedback solves is your over-trying and over-controlling. 

If you want, while you are connected, I will let you see your brain waves.  Each frequency will be undulating in intensity on a computer screen.  It is not a useful biofeedback display. 

When driving a car, you dont need to be in charge of exactly how the pistons turn the cam shaft.  There is an old blues song that goes:

    When the light turns green,
        push your foot down on the gasoline.
    When the light turns red,
        push your foot down on the brake instead.
    When the light turns blue, 
        what in the world are you going to do?
    Sometimes, you just got to relax your mind. 

During a session, we can talk about whatever you want to talk about, as long as the sounds are on.  You can even do some quiet work with your hands during EEG sessions.  If you must take a brief call, that is okay. 

What does the trainer do during a session?
My job is to make sure you are getting good useful information.  I will operate the complex engineering software that provides you with sight and sound feedback.  I adjust the thresholds to provide you with the right ratios at the proper frequencies so that you can progress. 

My job is also to listen to you because neurofeedback is very oriented to client preferences.  When the sound is interrupted too often it is a little frustrating when it is on too much it is not interesting.  I will ask Is that about the right amount of feedback? You should tell me if it the sound is being interrupted too often, not often enough, or is just right. 

How can you help with DVD sessions?
The most useful instructions I can give you are to relax and focus; dont get frustrated.  Exactly how to raise the cellular activity of your frontal cortex is something you will quickly discover with biofeedback.  You can either watch the movie or look at the temperature numbers change continuously. 

This does take effort; it feels like exertion.  With conditioning you can do more work without exhaustion.  Dont over do it at first. 

How do early sessions differ from middle and later sessions?
I like to start gently with both kinds of CNS biofeedback.  This means shorter sessions.  Later sessions can be longer.  Combining the EEG and HEG is possible. 

When you are comfortable with EEG training oriented to calming, there are a few other brainwave strategies that can be employed.  

Getting comfortable, relaxing, and regular breathing help everything else we do. 

If you ever start to get a headache during a session, let me know right away.  I may want to stop the session.  We will either rest for a while or simply conclude for the day.  In later sessions I may change the brainwave configuration or allow you to tough it out if you want.  Know that any discomfort will be minor and will pass, and will certainly be gone after sleep.

Is there any preparation on my part before a session?
Before each EEG session take a shower and wash your hair.  A fragrance-free shampoo is best, such as Nutrigena anti-residue formula. This helps ensure a clean electrical connection between scalp and sensor.  This is nice, but not necessary.  I will clean the spots I use. 

What do I do after a session?
Drink an extra glass of water and get a good nights sleep.  Sleep helps consolidate the gains made. 

How does an EEG session start? 
When we do EEG sessions, you will sit in a comfortable chair.  First I will clean your ears and 2 spots on your scalp, one-third of the way up between your ears.  Ill clip 4 tiny wires to your ears and paste 2 sensors onto your scalp.  I'll clean off the paste when we are done. 

How does a DVD session start? 
When we do DVD sessions, you will sit in straighter chair so you can focus on the DVD. 

Ill ask you to hold a 2 by 3 by 1-deep sensor box to your forehead.  We may need to move forehead hair up out of the way of the camera lens.  Then Ill secure the sensor in place with 2 velcro straps like a headband.  Another strap goes over the top of your head.  This should only be tight enough to keep the sensor from moving.  The headband and sensor are supposed to be comfortable, so tell me if they are too tight or loose. 

Sometimes I use the following approach to relaxation. 

Join your hands, palms down.  Basically, grasp a thumb; with the other hand, grasp the index finger.  That is: Curl your fingers of one hand, around the other hands thumb.  Now with the thumb-grasping hand, extend your index finger and hold that finger in your other hand.  As you inhale, roll your wrists up slightly, and roll them back as you exhale.  For pictures and audio instructions see www.soundersleep.com

Merely notice your breathing.  Dont add fuel to thoughts.  Return to passive awareness of breathe.  Regular breathing is good.  More complete breathing is good.  An empty mind as breathe is empty, is very good. 

What form of payment do you accept? 
Cash, check, money order, Visa, MC, or AmEx.  I will give you a receipt for psychotherapy services that you can submit to your health insurance company for reimbursement if you wish. 

When does it not work?
Rarley.  When people dont complete their sessions for some reason. 
When people have significant external constraints in their life that interfere with change.
When people want to have migraine headaches because they are addicted to their pain medications.

Does it really work? 
See Controlled Scientific Research, Clinical Results and Client Quotes.

Evidence-based medicine is the criteria for entry into the medical establishement.  This is a very expensive and stringent criteria.  Only about 10% of what physician do meets this absurd criteria. 

Is it dangerous?
No. Migraines are more dangerous by far. Harmful side effects from biofeedback are rare, minor and transient, such as a temporary mild headache.  Since 1970, about 100,000 CNS biofeedback sessions have been done with children under their parents supervision.  No court has ever awarded damages for neurofeedback injuries. 

Who is Gary Ames?
See my biography.

Why havent I heard of this before? 
It is not a pill.  It is hard to talk about.  The brain is unknown territory.  Fuller answer.

Bioelectric self-awareness for neural self-regulation is a mouthful and a mindful.  Neurofeedback is a different way of thinking about wellness.  It is not easy to discuss. 

Neurofeedback has only been available starting in 1970.  It has produced hundreds of high quality clinical research studies with uniformly positive outcomes.  But that is not enough for broad acceptance.  Wariness is tenacious despite evidence of safety and effectiveness.   

The bioelectrical regulatory mechanism of migraine headaches is readily visible, but not yet taught in medical school.  It is a real frontier for researchers, but it will not be supported by pharmaceutical firms.  Using neurofeedback to eradicate migraines may sound weird, but it works wonderfully well right now.   There is no downside.

Why hasnt my doctor told me about this? 
Has your doctor told you about acupuncture (?000 B.C.) and chiropractic (1870)?  These are two examples of non-drug, non-medical, completely proven, yet semi-accepted approaches to wellness. 

Consider the question Is tobacco good for you?  Before 1957, yes.  After 1960, no.

The question, Is there sufficient proof? is a criterion biased toward drug therapy.  The more relevant question is What is the best available technology? Neurofeedback wins that question decisively. 

If we were to adopt the "Best Available Technology" right now in mental health, neurofeedback would be all over the prisons, addiction treatment centers, nursing homes, hospices, not to mention schools and hospitals. Neurofeedback would become standard treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression, all the main actors in the mental health field. Then there is the whole domain of trauma recovery, ADHD and behavioral disorders.

Never in history has more progress been made in mental health in less time and by fewer people than we have accomplished in the last decade with neurofeedback.
  - Siegfried Othmer, Ph.D., Principle Scientist,  www.eegspectrum.com  

What causes migraine headaches?  What helps them? (Various answers)
Genetic explanation:
Migraines run in families, it is a genetically inherited neurological disorder.  Thus it cannot be cured, any symptom relief must found for each family member. 

Medical explanation:
The pathophysiology originates in the brain stem-trigeminal nerve migraine generator.  During an episode engorged blood vessels press upon nerves and then slowly return to normal over hours or days.  All you can do is avoid the stressors or food triggers such as aged cheeses, tropical nuts, red wine, etc. etc.
There is no safe, reliable, and complete treatment.  Beta-blockers thin the blood to reduce the pounding pain. Analgesics may provide temporary relief of symptoms.  Beware of dangerous drug side effects, addiction, and problems in tolerating heavy dosages for intense pain.  Drug related rebound headaches are hard to manage with drugs.  Suicide is a concern.  Partial permanent symptom relief can be achieved with surgery, botox injections, and other invasive techniques to kill the offending nerves. 

Psychological explanation:
You are a tightly wound relax-a-phobic.  You are always over-trying and hyper-controlling but not getting much done psychologically with all those efforts.  If only you could see what you are holding, then you could release your grip on heavy garbage.  Loosen and then lose those lead shoes.  Instead of treading water and thrashing, you could simply float merrily down the stream. 

Autonomic nervous system explanation:
Your sympathetic nervous system dominates the parasympathetic nervous system.  Migraineurs are over-compensating, hard charging, doers.  Other people rely upon your conscientiousness and sense of responsibility.  Instead of smoothly transitioning from fight-flight to rest-digest, the mechanism is distorted to absurdity.  An early stage of many migraine attacks is a gut wrenching session over a toilet.  Then a sphincter spasms to constrict blood vessels in the head.  Automonmic inhibition of this paroxysm may take days.  You need to gain fluency in self-regulating these bio tides of life.  Twice a day, assert your parasympathetic mode by learning to warm your hand temperature up near 94.5 F within 5 minutes via peripheral biofeedback.

Eastern philosophy explanation.
You have a rusty yin-yang!  What should flow from heaven to earth, instead crashes and burns.  You need to harmonize the rhythms that will restore dynamic balance.  Learn Tai-Chi, meditate, slow down, dont think so much.  Stop to smell the lotus flowers. 

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