Answers: Neurofeedback

Play Attention and Neurofeedback

Did you know that according to SharpBrain.com,the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Pedi­atrics “Evidence-based Child and Ado­les­cent Psycho-social Inter­ven­tions,” has ele­vated biofeed­back to “Level 1 — Best Sup­port” as an inter­ven­tion for Atten­tion & Hyper­ac­tiv­ity Behav­iors?

Play Attention is a sophisticated advancement of neurofeedback that is simple, easy, and highly effective. You’ve probably seen us on Good Morning America, NBC News, Woman’s World, TIME magazine, Popular Science, or other major media.

Imagine a mind that can move things like Harry Potter® or Luke Skywalker in Star Wars®. With Play Attention, your mind becomes the mouse or joystick while you learn computer games that teach necessary skills and improve behavior. Our fun games make learning essential skills easy. Practicing two or three days a week for 30 to 45 minutes can produce great long-term improvements.

Play Attention’s advancement of feedback technology has propelled us to the forefront of educational attention training. Play Attention is used in over 600 school districts in the US alone. It is also used worldwide in thousands of homes, psychologist’s offices, hospitals, learning centers, and doctor’s offices.

What Is Neurofeedback?

Our brains are made of billions of brain cells or neurons. No one brain cell can do much by itself, so the cells communicate with one and other to form networks. These networks are much like the Internet; communication is made over a series of ‘wires’. The ‘wires’ in the brain are made of cells and not metal like the Internet. Just like the Internet, brain cells send out small pulses of electricity to pass information along the networks.

The billions of cells firing electrical pulses produce a field of electricity similar to a radio signal. Neurofeedback uses an electroencephalograph (EEG) to measure this electrical activity in the brain commonly referred to as brainwaves. Brainwave information is sent to a computer where the information is displayed as a graph or even a video game which gives the user feedback about their brain activity or ‘neuro’ ‘feedback’.

Feedback is easy to understand. We get feedback from teachers and parents who say, “Good job,” when we do something right. “Good job,” is positive feedback. When we step on a treadmill today, we can attach a little clip to our finger and soon we see our heart rate on a display. This gives us feedback; if our heart rate is too low, we must walk faster. If our heart rate is too high, we must slow down. When we get feedback from the brain, we call it ‘neuro’ or brain based feedback.

Neurofeedback displays can tell you when you are focused. They can also tell you when you’re not paying enough attention.

Play Attention, EEG and Neurofeedback

Unlike clinical EEG, Play Attention uses a non-clinical brain energy monitor that cannot be altered like an EEG. We use a revolutionary brain wave monitor housed in an armband called BodyWave. BodyWave listens to or monitors brain signal indicative of attention and cognitive processing (thinking). No paste or gels are required.

A typical clinical session of neurofeedback training involves pasting electrodes to the head with conductive gel. Wires from these electrodes are connected to an EEG which amplifies the small signal obtained from the electrodes.

Play Attention’s Educational Basis vs. Neurofeedback Theory

Neurofeedback’s theoretical basis presumes that the human brain has regulated or normal patterns of brainwaves. Neurofeedback practitioners claim that out-of-order or dysregulated brainwaves create disorders like ADHD, autism, anxiety, etc. A neurofeedback clinician then tries to order or regulate the brainwaves of the person with the dysregulated brainwaves and they are fixed! Unfortunately, this theoretical basis is overly simplistic.

First, we do not really know what a typical brain looks like. To understand the vast complexity of personality traits and cognitive differences found in the human brain would require millions of brain scans. So far we have a database of a few thousand – not nearly enough to tell us what “normal” should look like.

Secondly, we don’t truly know whether the differences found are the cause of the disorder (like ADHD) or the effect. This has not impeded an industry developed around QEEG or quantitative EEG which says it can map a person’s dysregulated brainwave patterns for an average cost of $600 to $1200. A clinician can supposedly correct or regulate these brainwaves to fix the problem at a cost of $60 to $200 a session (usually a minimum of twenty sessions are required).

While Play Attention monitors brain signal to acquire the attention of the student, brainwave change is not its objective. Observable, performance based outcomes are what we strive to achieve. So, rather than concerning ourselves with brainwave change, we teach you to finish homework or office work, improve socially, become organized, follow multiple step directions, and much more. These outcomes are vitally important to success at school, home, and the workplace.

People with a learning problem like ADHD typically have more problems than just poor attention. Frequently, they cannot remember things (short-term memory), can’t ignore distractions (auditory & visual discrimination), can’t finish assignments (time on-task), can’t process multiple step instruction (auditory sequencing), don’t behave well, and more. These are skills which must be learned. Play Attention teaches them.

Many neurofeedback practitioners claim that all these skills will be improved through neurofeedback training. Common sense tells us that they don’t simply float into one’s head via brainwave training. They must be learned. So, while neurofeedback can likely improve attention, many other issues that need addressing are ignored. This overly simplistic approach as well as myths that clinicians present as fact have kept the neurofeedback industry very limited; despite being used for nearly 40 years, there are only about 6000 clinicians in the US.

Play Attention Practice vs. Neurofeedback Practice

We teach you to work with your child at home. If you’re a professional, we can train you to work with your client. Our attention specialists give live, telephone tutorials lasting about two hours to insure that you correctly use Play Attention. We can even analyze your data at your request. There’s not extra charge for this. It’s all included in the Play Attention program.

Play Attention acquires student attention to focus on learning skills. We even practice finishing homework or office assignments. You, acting as coach, set cognitive and behavioral objectives for your student in a fun, rewarding session. Coaches also work to insure transfer and generalization – the ability to use what they’ve learned back at school or the workplace. Don’t worry, we’hll help you every step of the way.

In clinical neurofeedback, students learn to control their brain waves by direct feedback received via a computer monitor and an EEG. If the student produces a correct brain wave pattern the computer instantly reinforces visually and/or audibly. If the student deviates from the correct brain wave pattern, the computer prompts the student to return to the correct brain wave pattern. The goal is guide the student to a relaxed focused state through trial and error. Repetition of this exercise is thought to regulate brainwave activity to a “normal” state. For lasting results, many sessions are usually required although the number of sessions varies per person. Through systematic and consistent practice it may gradually become easier to achieve the brain activity patterns associated with a focused mental state for longer periods of time.

The bane of the aforementioned clinical approach has been its difficulty of use and expense. Clinical EEG equipment is complex, expensive, and directed toward changing brain wave patterns. The change in the brain wave patterns is supposed to indicate change in associated skills of concentration, improved behaviors, etc. Frequently, students practice on independent of a coach and therefore have no behavioral guidance. These drawbacks coupled with a lack of educational methodology and difficulty in transferring or generalizing skills learned during the feedback training greatly delayed its acceptance by the professional educational community and resulted in severe criticism by others in the field.

Play Attention has been since 1994. It’s fun and easy so thousands of homes, over 600 school districts internationally, hospitals, psychologists’ offices, learning centers, and doctors’ offices use Play Attention right now. Its patented combination of attention training, learning skills acquisition, and behavior shaping has made it the industry leader in attention training. Play Attention’s superior educational support, technical support, and excellent training provide both families and professionals with the tools they need to provide success.  Our support and training also enable superior application back at school or the workplace (transfer & generalization).

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