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What Is Deep (ISF) Neurofeeback?

(Infra Slow Fluctuation Neurofeedback)

WHAT IS DEEP NEUROFEEDBACK?

Deep neurofeedback or Infra-slow Fluctuation Neurofeedback is a powerful (non invasive) brain training that uses EEG equipment to modify brain waves in the inner parts of the brain (mainly the hypothalamus area) which help to regulate most body functions including mood, energy, blood flow, anxiety, balance, breathing, eating, focus, temperature, sleep, pain, vision, bowel functioning and hormones. By regulating the brain through wave training using the power of learning (no magnetism or electrical currents), bodily functions become regulated too. Surface neurofeedback is a milder version of brainwave training where surface training (at specific spots of the brain) is an indirect way to reach the internal workings of the brain. ISF goes directly to the source of the dysfunction so it is usually faster and more global. ISF is evidence-based, researched around the world, and is practiced utilizing reliable and valid software systems. All of the ISF clinicians around the world use the same protocols, frequencies and same equipment, so if you choose to move, we can look into finding a clinician in your new location.


WHAT KINDS OF SYMPTOMS ARE HELPED BY DEEP NEUROFEEDBACK?

Neurofeedback can help alleviate symptoms associated with anxiety, asthma, developmental trauma, concussions,sleep disruptions, ADHD, traumatic brain injury, fibromyalgia, migraines, learning disabilities, Raynaud's, addictions, depression, bipolar disorder, eating, gastric intestinal issues, PTSD, eating disorders, brain fog, and is also effective with athletes training for peak performance.


HOW MANY SESSIONS DO I NEED?

Most clients find positive changes occurring between 8-12 sessions although some clients start to notice changes even during the first session. The faster you can get through the “exploration sessions” where symptoms of training might occur, the faster you get to the “good “ sessions where you experience more symptom relief. As your brain starts to practice new ways of functioning, you will probably be able to expand the time between sessions. It is impossible to know how a person may need to schedule, but a very ROUGH GUESS of the schedule looks like:

Month One: 2-3 times per week

Month Two: Weekly

Month Three: Every other week

Month Four: Every three weeks

Month Five: Sessions as needed (very infrequent) Many clients find that a session every couple of months helps them to maintain their progress. New stressors can cause some brain dysregulation and a “tune up” usually reminds the brain of how it should adapt.


HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Your insurance does not cover ISF, so only the talking, mindfulness, and processing part of your session can be billed to the insurance. There is a $30 additional-fee beyond your co-pay that covers costs associated with the treatment, equipment and software so that we can continue to provide these services.


WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE OPTIMIZED?

There is no way to know which ISF computer settings will be ideal for your brain to operate in an optimum state. ISF neurofeedback is a process where we are looking for a balance with your autonomic nervous system between the sympathetic (fight-flight-freeze response) and the parasympathetic (rest-recover-restore response) where the brain is ready for anything. Once we know this balance, other brain functions start to improve as well. Whether the brain is attempting to be very relaxed, or to deal with a life- threatening situation… it is ready and capable! When you are optimized, your brain is practicing a new way of working where it becomes regulated. The brain and body start to work in a balanced way. One common example of an ISF application is related to someone who is always anxious. This person is often in the fight-flight-freeze mode and can discover some amazing relief when the brain learns how to naturally relax again. This then often helps in reducing sleep, anxiety, bowel and depression symptoms. Most people with anxiety symptoms also notice their body temperature is more regulated as the brain functions in a healthier way.

After the brain is optimized, clients often note a decrease in the symptoms that brought them into the NFB sessions. Some clients don’t notice any reduction of symptoms until they are optimized and the brain practices this ideal state for a few sessions. The entire brain is making very significant (often permanent changes) so it’s important to be patient and know that these changes may take some time. In a clinical sense, you are said to be optimized when there are no negative symptoms of training noted for 3 to 5 sessions. What this usually means is that the optimal computer settings are appropriate to help the brain, and that the brain is now in a position to practice this new way of operating. Symptoms can usually be noted to dissipate after the brain is in an optimum state for a few sessions. You might be frustrated to not notice any symptom reduction before you are optimized. An everyday example of this concept might be related to downloading a new operating system on your computer. If you try to do new things with your computer while your system is downloading, you will discover that this is not possible.


HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE BEFORE I NOTICE CHANGES?

Every brain is different so the way your brain reacts to neurofeedback is also individualized. Changes start happening during the first session. Most clients notice some changes around 8-12 sessions (some good / some bad). A true commitment to change with deep neurofeedback might take awhile. If someone chooses to start with multiple sessions per week, he/she will notice change faster. The faster the brain can be optimized, the faster the symptoms dissipate. The severity of symptoms can also impact the length of time needed for deep neurofeedback to create positive changes. Keep in mind that in most cases, the brain has collected a lifetime of dysregulation, so the process of healing can take some time.


WHAT AGES CAN PARTICIPATE?

All ages of people can participate in this treatment from infants to geriatrics. Since deep neurofeedback does not involve playing computer games or remaining perfectly still, even babies can benefit.


WHAT IS A SESSION LIKE?

During a session, we will talk about the symptoms you are experiencing, and discuss the 24 hour report from the previous session, so that we can decide what to do in this session. You will be connected to the biofeedback equipment using water soluble paste to hold the sensors in place. There is NO electricity or magnetism used. You can put your feet up and relax for the session. Temperature is monitored with a finger thermometer and symptoms are tracked by a quick check-in every 5 minutes to determine changes. If you notice that you are feeling different, please let your technician know, even before your technician asks you. During the session, you will listen to deep tones that reflect your deep brain-wave patterns. Many children comment that the training tones remind them of whales talking with each other. The 24 hours after the session are really important! A report on symptoms will be sent via email and you are asked to track symptoms to determine the settings for the next session. The next session is entirely based on your symptoms both from the 24 hours as well as how you are feeling during the session.


ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?

Usually. Deep neurofeedback is symptom driven, which means there is often a mixture of good and bad “symptoms” associated with training. The symptoms that arise are not long-lasting and will disappear in 24-48 hours, or often during the next session. Negative symptoms can include nausea, dizziness, anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, dizziness, slowed-down, revved-up and blurred vision. Since these symptoms can be challenging to handle, deep neurofeedback is not recommended for someone who is not in a position to feel worse during the first few sessions. For example, if someone is extremely depressed then deep neurofeedback would not be suggested. Also it is difficult to provide ISF if the client has cognitive challenges where he/ she is unable to track 24 hour symptoms. We make sure that we only offer ISF when we are available on an emergency basis, in case you have any discomfort that cannot wait to your regularly scheduled appointment.


WHAT DO I DO BETWEEN SESSIONS?

Keeping an accurate account of your symptoms is vital to your training. Many clients choose to use a journal or a cell phone app journal. Since the training is working with the inner part of your brain, there is no way to track your symptoms of training, or your progress, except through your report. You will be given a 24 hour report that will help your technician to determine your training protocol for your next session. It is suggested that you try to keep your routine for the next 24 hours as normal as possible. For example, we recommend that you keep your diet as normal as possible for 24 hours. If you don’t normally eat spicy foods then do not eat spicy foods in your 24 hours. If you develop gastric symptoms during your 24 hours, then we will know that this is related to your training and not due to a new spicy food. We also recommend that you keep your usual medication usage during the 24 hours.


HOW DO I MAKE THE MOST OF MY SESSIONS?

It is important not to talk during the session since it’s not possible to hear the training sounds while talking. Brief talking is important though when discussing your symptoms as they arise during the session. If you feel anything unusual during the session, it’s important to tell your technician immediately. After the first few sessions you can choose to watch a movie or read a book during your session since you can listen to the television and the training sounds at the same time.


WHAT IF IT DOESN'T HELP?

ISF is extremely powerful and fast, although not everyone shows significant gains from ISF. If there is a problem in the body that is not related to the brain, then ISF is not going to be an effective treatment. For example if you have a pulled disc in your back, and are experiencing pain, the ISF can help you with managing the pain, but the muscles and bone structure can’t be healed by ISF alone. It is common knowledge though, that if you are getting into a deep sleep (which ISF can facilitate) then physiological issues can better heal. Another challenge with neurofeedback is related to possible tick borne illnesses (such as Lyme Disease) since many tick borne illnesses can cause both brain and body issues. If you suspect that you might have a tick-borne illness, please check with your family doctor about this.


WHAT IS THE “HALF-WAY BLA”?

Most clients are very excited and feel hopeful at the beginning of treatment since it’s sometimes apparent even during the first session that the brain is starting to change. Sometimes these changes are uncomfortable, yet most clients feel encouraged that at least “something” is happening. About half way into the optimization process, many clients often feel discouraged since they are not yet optimized and are more aware of temporary negative symptoms of training. Others note that they still have the same symptoms as the sessions progress, so they can feel discouraged. This process can be compared to working out at the gym and becoming more aware of sore muscles as weights increase and workouts become longer and more challenging. It’s tempting to give up and decide that the ISF isn’t working, yet this is a premature decision since until one is optimized, there is no way to know how the ISF will impact your symptoms.


HOW CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT ISF?

There is some helpful websites and research information online if you search for “Mark Smith ISF”. There are some technical articles and research published through Oxford University for those looking for more clinical information. Neurofeedback is evidence - based, APA approved, and state licensing regulated!

We look forward to helping you through ISF Deep Neurofeedback!

We witness miracles every day and hope you too 

can find more happiness in your life through neurofeedback!