The Infra-Low Neurofeedback approach has evolved from the original Neurofeedback approach of training the traditional frequency band oscillations of 1 to 30 Hz.
The Othmer’s of the EEG Institute in Los Angeles, USA, initiated this approach in 2006 and continue to develop and evolve this powerful and effective tool. The Othmer’s are the world leaders in this field working closely with Bee Medic in Germany.
Infra-Low Neurofeedback training targets the infra-slow electrical oscillations or frequencies in the brain (meaning less than 0.1Hertz).
These slow frequencies:
- Determine the overall excitability of the cortex
- Coordinate processes between the peripheral nervous system (body) and the central nervous system (brain)
- Regulate the fluctuation of arousal levels of the Autonomic Nervous System which controls our ‘automatic’ physiological functions:
- the ‘fight & flight’ state of the Sympathetic Nervous System
- the ‘freeze’ state of the Dorsal Vagal component of the Parasympathetic Nervous System
- and the optimal place of the ‘rest and digest’ state of calm, focused attention and social communication and safety generated by the Ventral component of the Parasympathetic Nervous system.
These infra-slow oscillations are also critical for the optimal functioning of our core regulatory networks, the Resting State Networks:
- the Default Mode Network which regulates internal attention
- the ‘task-positive’ Central Executive Network and the Dorsal Attentional Network which regulate external attention
- and the Salience Network which allows the brain to switch from internal to external attention effortlessly.
- These Infra-Low frequencies are known to be ‘Cross Frequency Coupled’ with the traditional band frequencies, especially Delta, Theta and Gamma (work by Dr Dirk De Ridder). By working at the foundational Infra-Low frequencies, we impact the whole system. A firm foundation is critical to for a house to be stable.
By providing real-time feedback (visual, auditory and tactile) regarding small shifts in these infra-slow frequencies, the brain learns to optimise its own ability to self-regulate to promote functional normalisation. The brain is an experiencing entity and is fascinated by the signal it has generated. In this very natural process, once the signal is identified by the brain and the connection is made, the brain takes responsibility for the signal and tries to steer it – a little like controlling the steering wheel of a car even while the driver’s thoughts are directed elsewhere.
A comparable analogy is that of having an eye test - the optician presents a range of different lenses (filters) with the aim of finding the correct one which allows the eyes to read clearly but without strain - a relaxed, focused state. With ILF training, we present different frequency filters to the brain and are similarly looking forward for the same zen place of feeling physically and emotionally calm and relaxed, but also alert, present and focused.
The approach is extremely specific for each individual with the process of identifying the optimal Infra-Slow frequency to reward during the initial part of the training regime. This fine-tuning of the reinforcement frequency is guided by the client’s response in terms of shifts in the state of alertness and emotional experience during the training session and the impact on presenting symptoms and arousal level within the first 24 – 48 hours post training. This requires an effective working relationship between the client and therapist in order that experience during or after a training session is accurately reported to guide protocol development for an optimal outcome. In the case of younger children or adults who have limited self-awareness, reports from parents or close family members are crucial for the process to succeed.
The Othmer Method for Infra-Low Neurofeedback training is a powerful and effective tool. The Neurofeedback amplifier and the software, the Cygnet System, is extremely robust and sensitive and the process of the generation of an individual’s optimal training frequency and evolution of their protocol is systematically guided. The Cygnet system also allows for Synchrony training to promote functional resilience. This can be regarded as 'effortless' Mindfulness Training. Alpha Theta Deep State Training is also a phenomenal tool to facilitate the subconscious resolution of fears and traumas. Traditional band EEG training can also be used where indicated.
Many varying conditions and symptoms have dysregulation of the Autonomic Nervous System or the Resting State Networks at the core of the problem and that is why our usual starting place is to train the brain to self-regulate using the Infra-Low approach.