Deploying frequencies directly into the brain
Imagine being able to observe in real time the dysfunctions in the bioelectric field of the brain of an autistic person.
Now imagine a device capable of deploying directly into the brain the frequencies required to achieve an emotional relationship, to develop language skills, to learn a new knowledge, to coordinate the body and accomplish all that was not possible before.
Alphalearning perfected this equipment and this technique over the last 25 years. Below we will detail its development for the autistic spectrum, uncovering its mechanisms and achievements.
1. The first days -
2. Neurofeedback, functional domains and emotional center
3. Human perspective and the relationship with other problems
4. Returning to autism, functional domains and neurofeedback
5. What happens in a neurofeedback training, and how is it done?
6. When you notice any result?
7. Why do children learn?
8. Results of long-
The first days -
Sofie was a 16-
After the first 12-
Over a year later positive side effects have been discovered in both cases -
Studying these results, we developed a screening system that could ensure the success of the new techniques for all new cases accepted. Meanwhile the scientific understanding of the brain and autism progressed and the results achieved by Alphalearning were observed in terms of a comprehensive model.
By addressing behavior at the level of the brain itself neurofeedback and brain training are in fact opening up an entirely new terrain that does not fit comfortably either within the standard biomedical model or the standard mental health or behavioral model.
Neurofeedback, functional domains and emotional center
Looked at from the perspective of brain behavior, the most obvious shortcoming in autism lies at the level of integration of function. Moreover, this deficit is not uniform across functional domains but rather afflicts particularly our emotional core that allows us to function in socially connected ways.
From the perspective of brain behavior, the most obvious shortcoming in autism lies at the level of integration of functional domains. Uneven across these fields, particularly afflicts the emotional core, one that allows us to act in socially connected ways. Additionally, there are also deficits in the functional connectivity that operates on this flawed architecture
Here we see the image of an experiment showing the coordinated activation in several brain centers (particularly in the frontal and temporal areas) in two people out of the autistic spectrum (top image), while in two autistic children (bottom) there is no integration between these centers. The greater activity in the cerebellum of autistic children is understood as a compensatory response, however, adds a new dysfunction and stress to the brain.
This is where neurofeedback and brain training comes in. In this kind of training, we work to bring the neural network of emotional connectivity back online, among other things. We must necessarily operate within the limitations of what is available in terms of structural connectivity, but the good news is that emotional connectivity in the autistic child lies largely in the functional domain and is therefore clinically accessible to neurofeedback. There is at present essentially no other comparable means to bring this about.
Human perspective and the relationship with other problems -
In addition to adopting the "brain perspective" on autism, it is helpful also to adopt the child’s perspective for additional insights. What is the life experience of the autistic child who is not emotionally connected? We can gain insights into this by reflecting on other children who have severe attachment issues (often known by the term "Reactive Attachment Disorder"), those who may have been raised in Chinese, Russian, or Romanian orphanages without the benefit of early nurturing. Such children live in extreme states of raw fear. We derive our sense of safety in the world from our early social relationships. In the absence of these comforting social bonds, the experience of life can be uncertain, capricious, and even threatening. The lack of assuredness in navigating one’s world drives the nervous system toward heightened states of activation and arousal. The brain can never relax its vigilance because the child lacks the experience of a sense of safety. Even if the child presents as shut down, the internal state of that system is invariably one of high arousal-
There is an even larger truth here. In the presence of various kinds of dysfunction, the brain will attempt to compensate by increasing activation generally and causing stress. The effect may, however, be counter-
In this condition, there may be nothing in the causal chain beyond the witnessing of a highly traumatizing event. Yet the lingering physiological consequences can devastate the rest of that person’s life. In this case, we have no choice but to trace all these adverse consequences back to the original event, and all we have to work with is functional connectivity (which is demonstrably altered). There had been no physical injury, after all. Everything that occurred in that trauma experience lay in the functional domain at the outset. Very clearly, then, deficits in functional connectivity are quite sufficient to wreak all kinds of havoc with our physiology, and that is what also happens in the autistic spectrum.
Returning to autism, functional domains and neurofeedback
The significance of this observation is that by addressing functional connectivity in autism directly, we are not only helping with the consequences of other biomedical deficits, we are also remediating an important element in the causal chain of dysfunction in its own right. This helps to make the case that neurofeedback and brain training should be an early intervention in the autistic spectrum. Given what we now know, we believe that it should be the very first thing undertaken by any family whose child is suspected of starting to exhibit autistic features. Families already involved in other therapies should consider folding neurofeedback in early as a high priority.
What happens in a neurofeedback training, and how is it done?
The traditional approach of Neurofeedback just characterizes the deviations in functional connectivity and targets those in training. The deviations are numerous, however, and one still needs a guiding principle to determine the appropriate order in which they should be addressed. And then one runs into the usual conundrum that some approaches help and others don’t.
Overexcited nervous system of an autistic child in the first moments of his first session
In Alphalearning we developed a different approach, one that starts from the observation already made above that the autistic child lives with an over-
We find it most appropriate to move the child’s brain out of emergency mode as the first order of business. "Calm the stressed and agitated nervous system" is the operative principle. This can be done relatively straightforwardly with essentially any autistic child, irrespective of level of functionality or of age. This strategy finds additional support in our work with people with PTSD, with traumatic brain injury and with dyslexic children. All three of these classes of problems will be started with the very same neurofeedback and brain training approach because the initial objective is common to them all: it is to move the nervous system to a calmer and more controlled place.
The basic process follows these steps, always with the analysis of the EEG in real time:
1. Initially we record an EEG while the child performs a 4-
4. Now with three EEG readings available for analysis we prepare activities to be done with the help of optical-
When any result is noted?
Effects, in the same child, during the first session with Brainwave
Functional improvements are observed within the first 12 minutes, simply by virtue of this change of state in which the nervous system functions. Understandably, the child most commonly starts out terrified of the novelty of neurofeedback and at minimum suspicious of the electrodes about to be attached to the scalp. However almost as soon as the training gets under way, one can often see a kind of tranquility settle on the child’s face and a certain composure descend over his body. The child may even become completely still, and some have been observed to shift to a meditative pose-
The child's brain realizes that the information presented in training is important and leads to a better state. Because the brain is presented with this experience, he wants to remain in this state. The children that follow the computer screen will notice that the information presented on the screen in some way actually mirrors its own activity. It cannot help but be intrigued to see its own activity mirrored back to it in this fashion, and so it becomes engaged in the process. Once the brain is thus entrained into the experience, then of course the child readily goes along for the journey. One can even think of this as guided meditation for the autistic brain. It clearly relishes the experience, and those dreaded electrodes are long forgotten by the child. With the practice of training the brain will assimilate the new habits and functional improvements will continue to emerge while others are consolidated.
Why do children learn?
EEG from the same child, 15 days later
Neurofeedback is therefore a learning process by which the brain increases its native self-
In the image above the EEG of the same child of previous images, but 15 days after the first session. Again three points should be highlighted: 1) the balance between the hemispheres is much greater, 2) the high frequency waves (green, pink and yellow horizontal bars) were reduced and 3) Alpha waves (light blue horizontal bars) are already overcoming the theta waves (dark blue horizontal bar), making the child ready to receive information and learning from the outside world.
Some rewards reinforce to the brain that the new state must be learned:
1. Relaxation and brain balance
After many months, often years, living with the brain in constant high activity and stress, for the first time the child can reach, with the help of the Brainwave, a state of relaxation and balance. This reward is per se enough to promote learning.
2. Emotional Relationship
It is usual that after the first training session, offered the opportunity, the child presents an emotional relationship with their parents never presented before. We explained above that affect regulation is intimately coupled to stress regulation. Regulating the one influences the other and vice versa. In fact, we have chosen to target the emotional circuitry as the most direct way of training stress regulation, taking advantage of this relationship.
3. Progressive cerebral Stability
The brain becomes progressively more stable as new skills accumulate over the next training. In general, the child will deal with her life in a more peaceful and balanced way and it will be presented to her a full learning program to develop her new brain state and capabilities.
More specifically, this training can be very helpful for children whose autistic presentation is further complicated by a seizure disorder. In fact, epilepsy was the first clinical indication for which efficacy of EEG feedback was proved in animal and human subject research, so the focus on seizure susceptibility is appropriate. The story is consistent throughout: moving the child to better-
If everything goes as expected, the agenda organized by Alphalearning gradually proliferates in terms of targeting and progresses on many fronts. Reading and Math skills join athletic and artistic abilities offering a range of possibilities for the child's emotional development. Every feature of autistic behavioral presentation can be selectively targeted one after another. This is typically done in an order that emulates our original developmental sequence.
At this point the family already have a good deal of knowledge to keep the training at home with their own Brainwave, with ongoing remote supervision from the Alphalearning International. There is no obvious endpoint to the training, as the increasingly competent brain just continues to develop new competencies. Somehow our society needs to assure that every autistic child has the opportunity to expand his mental horizons with neurofeedback.
In addition to the entry of autistic child in a world of emotional relationships and the reduction or elimination of several other symptoms related to autism spectrum, a number of other demands can be achieved with the brain training and neurofeedback. Problems related to the functioning and brain self-
After the course the customer relies on the ongoing remote supervision from the Alphalearning International for as long as necessary to master EEGs readings and operate with confidence the neurofeedback and optical-
Please contact us and schedule an interview to answer your questions and schedule your course.
Neurofeedback improves Executive Functioning in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders