Decreasing Treatment Time

NF practitioners are well aware of a need to shorten treatment time. The average 40-50 sessions now commonly employed limit the number of clients a practitioner can treat and the number who can afford treatment. It also brings criticism from cost-conscious insurance companies and from NF critics who may see it as a "fleecing of the public.'' However, exactly how to shorten treatment time is controversial.

Some NF practitioners claim that they have found the "answer" to decreased treatment time for some given disorder in a specific site-frequency combination. Some have even obtained patents on their specific protocols. Some claim that factors such as speed of feedback (time between desired change in a specific EEG frequency and presentation of feedback) is critical and that providing an optimal time interval will speed treatment. Others emphasize differences in how accurately a feedback signal actually reflects a desired EEG change. For example, NF equipment that processes EEG signals digitally and in real time rather than by use of averaging techniques and the fast Fourier transform is said by some to allow increased accuracy of the match between raw EEG activity and feedback and, hence, facilitate faster learning and decreased treatment time.

Another frequently advocated way to decrease treatment time involves supplemental use of auditory-visual stimulation (AVS). It is well-known that exposure to a flashing light can entrain EEG activity to conform to the frequency of the flashes. This has led some NF practitioners to attempt to entrain EEG activity in a desired direction (e.g., increased b frequency) by presenting lights flashing at the desired frequency to their clients in conjunction with or prior to NF training. In some cases this has included simultaneously presented auditory stimulation of the same frequency and is referred to generally as AVS. An assumption often made is that such exposure may serve as a sort of prime to facilitate a client's learning to achieve voluntary control of a desired EEG frequency, i.e., elicitation of the particular frequency via AVS may enable the client to develop a "sense" of the state associated with the frequency and, thus, gain enhanced ability to achieve it again during NF. Some have tried variations such as using AVS that varies in frequency during the stimulation period, e.g., beginning at 13 Hz and gradually progressing to 20 Hz, or starting at 13 Hz, progressing to 20 Hz, and then returning to 13 Hz. Still others have used EEG-driven AVS in which equipment detects EEG peak frequency at a given electrode site and then continually adjusts the AVS stimulation up (or down) by some standard increment to entrain gradually higher or lower frequencies. Some of these latter procedures have been patented. There also have been attempts to add rhythmic tactile stimulation to AVS, resulting in even broader multiple simultaneous sensory stimulation.

Although some research supports the contention that AVS can result in temporary EEG changes in targeted directions and several NF practitioners report being able to decrease the number of treatment sessions significantly by the use of AVS, there is controversy about its use. There have been isolated reports of seizures being induced by this method. However, this apparently is extremely unlikely in clients with no prior history of seizures, and its use has been approved for research by human subjects ethics committees in several major universities. A concern heard more often is that, like many medications, its effects are temporary, whereas NF results in enduring changes because the client is learning voluntary control of EEG rather than having changes imposed on it. Some critics of AVS see it as, at best, serving as an adjunct to NF in difficult cases in which initial learning of EEG control does not occur and/or during times of prolonged learning plateaus.

AVS has promise as a means of expediting NF progress. However, as with NF, there are a large number of variables needing to be investigated, e.g., the importance of color and intensity of the visual stimuli, sound wave features and intensity of the auditory stimuli, and the nature of presentation of stimuli [e.g., alternating between right and left eyes (and/or ears) or simultaneous].

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