Alternative To Neuroptimal Neurofeedback

Hi all.


 


I just recently found out about this site, from Longecity forum, and the wonderful discussions that have been going around here.


 


I noticed some great discussion about neurofeedback and issues that some folks have raised about neuroptimal.  Honestly, I've had the same kind of concernts: blackbox, not based on the any peer reviewed publications, limited number of sessions.


 


On Longecity, someone suggested an alternative and a more affordable alternative to Neuroptimal called  Theta Alpha Gamma (TAG) Synchrony by Douglas Dailey.


 


Based on what I gathered from TAG's website, he's protocol is OPEN and based on various published research paper that he also cites on his blog.


 


Fundamentally, he's synchronizing the alpha, or theta, and then later, gamma brain waves in 2 different regions of the brain (initially, front and back).  This will cause the brain to go through what he calls "phase resets" which, based on the research he cites, is  the essential component of addressing imbalances or impacts of various stressors in life.


 


What attracts me to his protocol are:


  • open protocol where the
  • based on theoretical foundations consistent with latest neuroscience
  • affordable price (it runs on the neurofeedback system that can run Bioexplorer software)

I have not, however, seen anyone talking about their experience with TAG sync and am wondering if anyone has had any experience  or insights that can share about it.


 


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Comments

  • This is a hell of a find.  Thanks for sharing it here.  I'd actually run across this guy's other website, growing.com, but haven't even begun to dig around there yet so had no idea of this protocol.  From just scanning the homepage, it looks like this may also be a viable hack for something similar to the 40 years of zen training.


     


    If the Bioexplorer protocols are open and free, than I probably have all the equipment and software needed to try this.  But I'm committed to a nfb training program already and don't want to mix things up.  In 6-8 months I might be in a position to try this out for a few sessions, it all depends really on how long it takes me to finish with the protocols I'm doing now, and what the next assessment suggests.


     


    Thanks again, this looks really promising.


  • The interesting thing about his method is that he's sharing all the neuroscience and research publications that his protocol rely on.  This is something I have not seen.


     


    Apparently one can easily do all other traditional protocols (such as Alpha-Tetha or SRM) with his protocol, too. 


     


    The theory seems solid, I am hoping that someone who has had experience with it could confirm my "hopes"!


  • I definitely want to give it a try.  Looks like his designs aren't free, as such, but they aren't expensive either, certainly worth the described benefits.  If I'm reading him correctly, the benefits are pretty quick, too, so maybe I don't need to finish a full course of nfb with up/down training protocols to give it a whirl.  Bit broke atm though.  But I'll certainly post experiences here when/if.


  • I definitely like the sound of TAG sync. Looks based in the "right kind" of principle, much like NO - i.e. wholistic training of the brain as an entire system rather than reductivistic attempts to "add a little more here or there" a la traditional NF.


     


    One thing to bear in mind however is, as far as I know, TAG is still very much in early development.  Only a few practitoners use it, and I think it's still very much an experimental protocol. You can join his TAG sync yahoo group to get a sense of where the protocol is at.


     


    NO on the other hand has been in development for over a decade, with established protocols and support networks for trainers, etc.


  • edited November 2013

    Another fascinating protocol based on this global "reset" principle in the brain is the "Beta Reset Protocol":


    http://theconnectedself.com/colorado-program/beta-reset/


     


    They stumbled upon it, and apparently it gets good results with the neurodegenerative diseases that are difficult to address with other NF protocols.  If you dive into their materials, it becomes apparent that in treating these conditions, trauma stories inevitably bubble up, and they observe connections between the emotional decisions/limiting beliefs taken on at the time of trauma, and the physiological symptoms (if I'm reading it right).  Quite mindblowing to think that a past trauma like a car accident could be a driving factor in the kind of brain dysregulation that causes diseases like Parkinsons or MS.


     


    Really impressive work IMO.


     


    BTW guys:  IMO it's worth thinking very carefully before playing around with protocols like this on a home system. This isn't just meditation or concentration training. It sounds like they work at a deep level, and could unearth some heavy stuff. Personally, I would want to be in the care of a licensed, experienced professional if I were to try one of these reset protocols.


     


    What I like about what I've read about NeurOptimal is they took great care to design it to be a side-effect free as possible. I'd be comfortable trying that at home, but probably not Beta Reset or TAG Sync. 


  • An interesting discussion.


     


    Rick, I have two questions:


     


    I looked at Beta Reset protocol and that seems to be even more expensive than Neuroptimal!!!!  They seem to offer it in a 3-week retreat in Colorado.


    I did not see any research paper or publication that even hinted at the underlying science or even a reliable case study (besides the promotional materials).  Have you seen anything that helps me better understand it?


     


    I was very interested in NuerOptimal as well.  I am curios to know why you think other modalities such as TAG may have side effect and NO may not.  I am now, in fact,  uncomfortable with NO because I don't know what it's supposed to be doing with my neurology.  I feel a lot more comfortable with an open protocol, especially if it's been shown in scientific research, which I understand TAG to be.


     


    I agree we will need to be careful in selecting the protocol.  Unfortunately, I see a lot of "marketing hype" going on in NFB, with most of the protocols being black box systems, closed to any critical inquiry.  The only way to have some understanding of these closed system is to rely on people's report - preferably not on the merchant's website!


     


    Interestingly enough, I did a search on this forum and could not find any person who's reported actual experience with NO.  I wonder if there is any biohacker who actually experimented and reported their results with NO or any other recent protocols?


  • edited December 2013

    To be honest I've gained most of my understanding from critically reading the various yahoo groups. There's precious little hard data floating around so the best you can do is get a sense for where each protocol is at.


     


    I scoured the "biofeedback" yahoo group which has practitioners from various methods all chipping in and (sometimes) arguing about their different approaches, so there is at least the 'peer-review' dynamic in play. Of course, there's plenty of room for bias and self-promotion, but many of the people on these groups are scientists and therapists simply looking to go with what works best.  


     


    The 'biofeedback' group is where I got an idea of what Beta-Reset and TAG Sync are about. I also found an interview somewhere - if you google "beta reset parkinsons interview" or "jacqueline gisburne parkinsons interview" I'm sure it will come up. I mean, either she's getting these results for people or she's not, and she didn't strike me as disingenuous. If there's research on TAG, I'd love to see it.


     


    The Zengar yahoo group has a decent amount of discussion of NO, and not everyone drinks the koolaid - there are plenty of people asking probing questions there. Also plenty of therapists who use multiple systems and discussion over the differences between them. Interesting to note that there are quite a few who started with several systems and have slowly stopped using all but NO, and now use it for every presenting client condition. 


     


    In terms of what NO does - well, Zengar say this: It doesn't "do" anything. It  signals your brain that it's about to change state. It doesn't discriminate between states, or push you toward any particular state. It simply signals that it's about to change state, via an interruption in the music.


     


    How do they measure this, how do they detect when the brain is about to change states? It gets complex, but they model the brain as a non-linear dynamical system. In such systems, mathematically, there is "turbulence"  at the moment before a state-change, and this shows up in the EEG variability.


     


    Anyway, the brain recognises that this information from NO - the pauses in the music - is "about" itself, and uses it to make "better choices" - e.g. it orients to the impending state change, and decides if it really wants to go down that route. Over time your brain makes better (unconscious) choices about what states to enter and leave, and the result is a brain that more appropriately responds to the moment - more concentration when needed, more relaxation when possible - and doesn't go into dysfunctional states like anxiety, depression, etc with the same frequency or intensity. At least, so Zengar say.


     


    What's fundamentally different about it is it isn't pushing you towards any one state.  NFB for ADD, anxiety or depression all uptrain or downtrain certain frequencies in certain places, and therefore states. So do TAG and Beta-Reset. If you dig into the classical NFB discussions, you'll find plenty of talk of slightly scary side effects like facial tics or brain fog or trauma abreactions that occur when practitioners get things wrong. And getting things right is often just guesswork, based on normative databases, which assume there is some ideal "normal" brain.  "A little more theta here, a little less beta there". Yikes...


     


    NO on the other hand is (supposedly) designed under a different paradigm. They claim it just shows the brain that it's about to change state, and lets the brain change organically and gently. Couple that with the fact that NO trainers seem to say they see very few side effects, and it's the one I'm most comfortable trying first.


     


    The proof of course, is in the pudding. I'll know soon whether NO does the business or not, and I intend to track changes carefully. I'll be sure to post here with results, positive or negative. 


  • Greetings All,


      I'm also a member of much of the Yahoo! Groups mentioned on biofeedback. The funny thing about NO if you go through these Groups' archives is that Val has summarily exited most of these groups due to his suave, ambiguous advertising, and mostly due to a lot of turf-minding that no one could feasibly figure out what NO, then NeuroCare Pro, actually does.  Very vitriolic, and for the cost of his device, you'd think that it's the path to Valhalla.  The claim is that it trains "whole networks" on the brain by a simple C3/C4 electrode placement, the oldest routinized training since the discovery of biofeedback.  There might be some "fancy math" and talk of Gabor transforms, but in essence, from what I read, it incorporates multiple inhibits in the different frequency bands, allowing for a constant "move toward the mean" of the feedback.


     If you want something really adventurous, and want to see the competitior to the NO from back in the day-and yes you can do the TAG sync, Alpha Theta, and SMR training with this eeg, check out this:


    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=141130895443


  • edited December 2013

    I'm not sure they claim they train "whole networks" as a differentiator - if anything, from what I've read, Val seems to mainly be making the point that ALL neurofeedback trains whole networks, and the people who think you can make purely local changes with local electrode placement have got it wrong. 


     


    For example, for a brain to enter the alpha-theta state, as measured by a crossover of those amplitudes at say O1,  global changes have to occur across the whole brain (and across the whole nervous system actually - heart rate, muscle tone, etc all gets affected). It's never a case of rewarding Theta amplitude at O1, and only getting a change at O1 - for the brain to increase theta there, whole networks get recruited to create the whole-body hypnotic state associated with Alpha Theta training. If you measured at several other locations while you uptrained Theta at O1, you'd see systematic increases in Theta across the brain. That's why they say don't drive afterwards! 


     


    Maybe the NO training is reproducible with a custom setup. That would be cool! Then again, they've spent years refining their setup, and are selling a pretty neat plug-and-play solution. It's definitely expensive, but if it gets the results it's supposed to, I think I'd be satisifed with it. The consensus does seem to be that it works well, and that it is more "gentle" than other systems.


     


    Playing around with a custom setup and triggering adverse symptoms doesn't sound clever to me. I've read several reports of people getting themselves into holes (developing facial tics, brain fog) by messing around like that. To quote a favourite meme... "Do Not Want".


  • NO a plug-and-play system? These are broad definitions, not sure if would always address the brain in generalities.  A lot of the NO system no one has a clue of its principles as it shrouded in New Age-speak, easy-branding. Obviously, you couldn't do Alpha-Theta with NO defined at a C3/C4 configuration (side of each head above the temples), as well as a lot of very interesting peak performance protocols in biofeedback.  Realistically, this product has been heavily marketed to the just-out-of-school, and new-to-biofeedback therapist who do not want to spend the time and education to learn classic biofeedback, yet want to stay marketable.  The training and brochures are slick. On paper, that is really how this brand has become so expanded.  Anything done to improve interoception and self-awareness will move the brain to a better place, but personally I think this cuts out 90% of the other amazing things neurofeedback can do. 


  • edited December 2013

    You can't do those protocols with it, that's true. But isn't the point of NO that it's supposed to give you most of those benefits anyway? The testimonials seem to suggest a pretty impressive wide range of benefits. Of course, they're all found on Zengar materials or websites of Neuroptimal trainers.


     


    They say it's effective for both reduction in negative symptoms (anxiety, reactivity, depression, ptsd) AND peak performance type improvements in concentration, memory, productivity, professional and sporting ability, etc etc.


     


    Of course this all depends on whether it really does get those impressive results. Heartmath claims to do all that to a lesser extent, but personally I found it largely ineffective.


  • edited December 2013

      The legacy of biofeedback, if you follow it back to its hey-day in the 1960s is quite rich.  Fortunately, the systems have generally got much cheaper, though the technology and learning curve is a little steeper. If you want a little window into the current innovations in biofeedback, I'd recommend a quick web search or further study.  One site, that the above eBay listing is from, that emphasizes a quicker journey into deeper meditation is http://www.roshi.com/ .  The inventor, Chuck Davis, hung out with the likes of Suzuki Roshi in 60s and stomped around Esalen, as part of the human potential experience back then.  His quest to replicate deep Zen meditation led him to an involvement in biofeedback, and later a protoge of Hershel Toomin, the inventor of the Upgraded Focus Trainer nir-HEG headband.  A gifted protege renaissance man, Chuck found a way to merge an avowed Zen philosophy with his professional aeronautical research (NASA helped propel the initial developments of biofeedback) in lasers for the defense industry.  The result was the fastest response neurofeedback device ever invented, the Roshi.


      His latest incarnation, the pRoshi, takes the inner-dimension to a whole new level, incorporating magnetic stimulation, as well as a 3-Dimensional feedback through a proprietary complex adaptive filter, part of his study in non-linear dynamics.  Many conditions have been helped or ameliorated by time relaxing with pRoshi. As it's been described, "It's not so much learning to focus on the game-you are the game!".


  • kiaurashkiaurash
    edited December 2013

    BiofeedbackRx, is there any published research about Roshi, its underlying principles, and its effects?


  • kiaurashkiaurash
    edited December 2013

    [deleted]


  • It's been a while since this thread was last active, but my experience is pertinent as I have tried both the systems in question - both neuroptimal and TAG synchrony neurofeedback. In my experience, TAGsync blows NO out the water. It's not even a contest. And NO was pretty powerful for me. Hopefully some of you guys are still active, or maybe someone else will read this and become interested enough to dig deeper. For those inclined to serious brain change, check here and go to the TAG section.


     


    I will give a description of my experience with TAGsync so far, and if anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. First of all I will describe my state prior to training; constant brain fog, social anxiety to the point of isolation, poor concentration, debilitating insomnia, apathy, poor working memory and poor long-term memory. All this and more I gave myself through chronic drug abuse which occurred for many years of my youth. Nootropics generally do not agree with me, as my brain (chemistry? physiology?) is very unusual having undergone continual chemical onslaught from many angles. My brain, and thus my life, were essentially fucked. That is not an understatement. I was a shell of a human being. Before my chemical abuse, which started early, I was supposedly an intelligent child. After (and sometimes within) the chemical storm, I was an empty nothingness. Obviously I had tried a thousand interventions, a thousand ways to restore what I lost. Time helped, abstinence helped, exercise helped, meditation helped, positive nutrition helped. But only so much. The worst thing was the insomnia, because it undercut everything else, easily destroying the progress I might have made by a restless night. Which was every. single. night. I was a complete zombie.


     


    I had some success with NO, which I started last October. My sleep improved a little and my general awareness slightly increased, and anxiety dropped a little. At the time I was quite impressed, it was definitely the most effective thing I had tried so far (and I had tried a lot, but mostly it was ineffective because it compounded the insomnia). But the gains were, in retrospect, quite meagre, and I could feel myself hitting a plateau after just a few months. Around that time (late december/early january) I invested in the TAG protocols and got to grips with them. My first session I felt intense bliss while running theta-gamma synchrony, and a sense of spaciousness very much like very deep meditation, and while running alpha-theta, something like deep deep mental relaxation. I have been meditation on and off for a couple of years, but those states were something I had never reached before. This makes sense - the protocols were designed in attempt to emulate the neural signature of the highly advanced states of consciousness experienced by accomplished meditators. The literature on Douglas' site (the inventor) does not explicitly allude to 'enlightenment', and that term is somewhat nebulous and contentious in itself, but I feel that this is the state which progressive acclimatisation may emulate, or at least, if conducted in synchrony with a solid meditation practice, very much advances ascension through the levels of consciousness. Now before you think I'm getting all esoteric here, level of consciousness simply means in this case, awareness. The integration of the mind with itself, and of mind with the body. The neural signature relating to increased levels of awareness is increasing synchrony (which is nested) across all frequencies, with focus on epsilon, alpha, theta and gamma. On the subjective level this relates to experiences of body-groundedness, increased intelligence, increased memory, increased focus, increased positivity (both baseline and contextually-incited), deeper states of meditation, universally enhanced sensorium (all senses ramped up), increased reaction time, increased short term memory, better dream recall, better abstract reasoning ability, greater fluency, higher levels of empathy and a natural state of flow which runs through life. There are more effects but those are the ones that come to mind at the moment. Also, my insomnia is almost completely gone.


     


    This is nothing short of miraculous for me. I thought 'I' was lost forever, 'I' being my self-identification with the version of my self that had those abilities which I hold in high regard, the axis of my former existence, namely, the enjoyment of my thought processes. I have been recast, my Being is recrystallising around the seed of mind which is being coaxed to restructure itself towards optimal synchrony. This is an ongoing process... gains in all the areas mentioned are progressively increasing. I have not yet reached the thoughtless, deathless, or infinite state which characterises flawless alpha-theta-gamma synchrony in my everyday existence. But the ultimate aim of neurofeedback is the complete internalisation of the states previously only attained with the help of external feedback... the control loops progressively become part of the mind until they are perfected and one can shift states without wavering, at will. What significantly differentiates the TAGsync approach from other more traditional approaches of up- or down-training particular frequencies is that TAGsync is based on the neuroscience literature, the neural structures found universally in highly-functioning individuals and advanced meditators. Specifically, this protocols fits the literature on the significance of synchrony in the proper execution of many cognitive functions (such as perception, memory, creativity etc) and the Parieto-frontal-integration-theory of intelligence (pFIT). This is in contrast to the traditional approach I mentioned which is more based on the 'normalisation' of the EEG in relation to a database of EEGs which are averaged from a population of 'mentally healthy' individuals. Healthy in this case refers simply to a lack of any overt pathologies. But personally I think this conception of mental health is very misleading. One I find a more fruitful interpretation is that of mental health as a scale of freedom from attachments and aversions, which can also be thought of as cognitive flexibility. On this model, the average person is generally unhealthy, having many attachments and addictions which run underneath the radar of consciousness simply because they are not deemed socially taboo. These are the 'sticking-points' in the mind, the limitations of the individuals mental and behavioural freedom, and interestingly, mental addictions show up neurally as transient and tightly-bound pockets of synchrony which cause de-synchronisation on a wider scale. What's interesting is that TAGsync (and other forms of 'deep state training') have been used to successfully treat addictions, in the process flushing out many other addictions which we might have (for instance, to our self-construct). This fascinates me, because I think what has been found here is something like a universal neural signature of an optimally healthy and optimally functioning brain. If this is right, then TAGsync is not just a panacea for mental health in general but also a universal tool for tuning the brain to function at its highest possible levels. For those interested check out the resource I posted above, and feel free to ask me any questions. It might be more worthwhile for you to direct any questions to my thread on the same topic at longecity.org, which can be found here, as I barely ever come on this site.


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