Your Family

Jul 16, 2010 3:06 PM by Carina Corral

Can you retrain your brain to fix behaviors, or is it all in your head? A look at Neurofeedback therapy offered on the Central Coast


A local company claims to be able to retrain your brain to fix certain behaviors, anything from addictions to autism.

Neurofeedback therapy is offered at Neurotopia in Templeton where playing a video game is not mindless fun, it is serious business.

Donna Maybrunet is a firm believer, but just like many, she started off a skeptic.

"It sounded a little hocus pocus to be honest," said Maybrunet.

Diagnosed with CRiPS disease she was in constant, agonizing pain throughout her entire body. Doctors put her on a slew of meds to cope.

"It, uh, it just gets so depressing to think back where I was just a year ago," Maybrunet said while fighting back tears.

She turned to neurofeedback as a last resort.

It claims to work by training the brain to correct symptoms at their source.

"The brain always wants to correct itself and if you just put that mirror in front of the brain to show it what it's doing, it just wants to correct itself," said Donnie Hale, an E.E.G. Technician at Neurotopia.

The mirror is the video game. Patients watch a spaceship, for example, while technicians monitor the brain waves.

If the mind starts to drift, they make the object slow down and as the brain refocuses, it is rewarded with a faster pace; thus, training the brain to stay in a focused and atten­tive state.

"It works amazing on migraines, attention deficit disorders, autism," said Hale.

The most studied use of neurofeedback is in the treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Not all support it.

Some impartial patient advocacy groups, such as Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or CHADD, say it is too soon to know if the treatment really works.

CHADD's statement on neurofeedback:
"It is important to emphasize that although studies have yielded promis­ing results, this treat­ment has not yet been tested in the rig­or­ous man­ner that is required to make a clear con­clu­sion about its effec­tive­ness for AD/HD."

As for Maybrunet and her pain, "The disease is still here. I still have it until they find a cure. I will always have it, but is it tolerable now? Yes. Was it tolerable then? No."

Neurofeedback also claims to help people reach peak performance in athletes and helps war veterans overcome post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The initial QEEG is $800. Usually, 20 treatments are suggested at $130 each, which is not covered by insurance.

It may sound pricey, but for believers it is priceless.

Neurofeedback is offered nationwide and has been around for more than 30 years.

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