In other articles, I’ve talked extensively about neurofeedback therapy including LENS. LENS is short for Low Energy Neurofeedback System. But how does LENS work and what does it treat? LENS neurofeedback is excellent for mind-body healing. It helps both physical issues such as migraines, autism, and post-concussion symptoms. But it can also help issues in the mind such as emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. In this article, I’d like to discuss how LENS works to help these conditions.
LENS neurofeedback is a simple procedure that helps heal the brain. Using the patient’s brain wave pattern, the system nudges the brain. This helps it transform maladaptive patterns. Parts of the brain that aren’t functioning optimally start working more efficiently. Over-functioning areas return to a more normal level.
How LENS Neurofeedback Works
The procedure of neurofeedback therapy is simple. The patient has wires attached to the ears and scalp. The wires have a clip at the end and are technically called “leads”. With LENS, there are one on each ear and one or two attached to the scalp. I generally start with mapping. This is a mild form of treatment but the purpose is to determine the current state of the brain. The patient sits in the chair and closes her eyes for a moment. Depending upon the protocol, they may close their eyes for a few seconds or a few minutes. This is repeated depending upon the type of session (mapping or not) and what the treatment goals are. In general, sessions don’t have to last long. Generally, no longer than 30 minutes. I spend a lot of the session assessing my patient before and after giving neurofeedback. I want to see subtle changes that may have happened during the session, but also during the previous week. In general, I work with patients on a weekly basis.
Generally, it takes 2-5 sessions to complete a map depending on the person. Some patients are more sensitive or reactive and benefit from fewer points over time. With LENS neurofeedback, sometimes less is more. Fewer points result in bigger changes.
With a completed map, I start to analyze it. I won’t go into all the details of the maps here, but we can explore some of the concepts related to maps and neurofeedback therapy.
Types of Brain Waves Measured
Brain waves have two basic measurements, amplitude and frequency. Amplitude represents the height of the waves. Frequency is the speed of the wave. In general, there are four types of brain waves that are measured with neurofeedback. The chart below is a short summary of that information.
The frequency determines the type of brainwave. Each wave frequency will also have a height. A person can have delta waves, for example, with tall or short amplitudes. The different types of waves and amplitudes give us a picture of what is happening in a patient’s brain. As you can see from the table, different types of brain waves have different meanings. There is a healthy and an unhealthy pattern to each type of brainwave. Treatment protocols change depending on what symptoms the person is having.
How does LENS Neurofeedback work? We don’t know exactly, but we do know that it works. Several studies on the instrumentation have shown that very little energy goes to the brain. It produces 10-22 watts/cm2. That’s not much energy. When it was first tested, scientists assumed it must be a placebo effect because it is so low. But double-blind placebo-controlled studies have shown changes that could be seen on fMRI. A functional MRI can measure changes in the brain in real-time. Patients who received real LENS treatment showed changes while those who received the control didn’t. So what is going on? It may have to do with brain plasticity. Brain plasticity is a term coined by Marion Diamond, Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. She published a paper in 1970 suggesting that our brains adapt when we are exposed to different situations and stimuli. This allows for the brain to develop continuously if stimulated.
As a side note, Dr. Diamond was a professor of mine when I went to Cal as an undergrad. She would write on the chalkboard with both hands and she could play tennis with both too. (Not in class though.) She told us she did this to work both sides of her brain.
Dr. Len Ochs, the inventor of LENS, said that the signal from LENS may be stimulating the brain to develop new neural connections. This results in changes in the brain. This makes sense given Dr. Diamond’s theory
What LENS Neurofeedback can Treat
LENS neurofeedback can treat almost any condition related to the brain. I have treated people with Multiple Sclerosis, anxiety, depression, autism, insomnia, OCD, migraines or other headaches, RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), ADD, and Parkinson’s. The results have been great for all, although other Naturopathic treatments were necessary in some cases. Where I have seen the most incredible results with LENS is in treating concussion and PTSD. Patients respond amazingly well. We used to think that neurons died after injuries. We now see that they don’t die. They involute. Connections get lost and the brain doesn’t work as efficiently. LENS appears to wake those neurons up. The patient’s symptoms start to lift and their situation improves. It may be a clue as to how this form of neurofeedback therapy works. And it may be why LENS is so helpful with other conditions. In some cases of anxiety, insomnia or ADD, for example, a concussion is the precipitating event.
With PTSD, patients appear to have a decrease in reactions to situations. With LENS treatment, they become more aware of their reactions to situations. This allows them to function better in relationships, their jobs, and in society.
There are many types of neurofeedback therapy, but I use LENS predominantly. LENS neurofeedback is an excellent method to treat a variety of conditions. It is simple, easy, effective, and has few if any, side effects. While sometimes side effects do happen, such as fatigue, they are short lasting. The benefits, though, are not. I find that the majority of my patients improve from neurofeedback therapy regardless of their condition. You can email me or call my office to learn more or to schedule a session. I look forward to meeting you in person.