What is Neurobehavioral Therapy?
Neurobehavioral therapy is a set of assessment and treatment procedures addressing biological mechanisms of underlying behavioral disorders and psychological conditions.
In simpler words, many behavioral and psychological issues, such as difficulties with attention/concentration, hyper-activity, learning difficulties, impulsivity, mood swings, over-reactivity, aggression, etc., might be caused by irregularities in the brain functioning.
With recent advances in neuroscience, it became possible to identify these brain irregularities and develop tailored neurobehavioral treatments to correct those irregularities.
To identify the areas in the brain which cause behavioral/psychological issues and require correction, a special brain wave-based assessment (EEG-based assessment) should be done prior to developing a neurobehavioral treatment plan.
After the EEG-based assessment is done, a neurobehavioral intervention plan can be developed based on the assessment results.
Modern neurobehavioral interventions include a large variety of advanced, equipment-based techniques.
T.E.C.S. offers the most effective and well established approaches, including:
Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE)
Neurofeedback (Nf) is a medication-free procedure to treat psychological and behavior problems by teaching a client to control his/her brain activity. The therapist functions much like a personal trainer: first evaluating an individual’s current brain functioning, then designing an individualized exercise program based on the results obtained. The therapist then monitors the “exercise” interventions making the necessary adjustments to the activities as needed. It is like playing a video game where the brain is the joystick and the trainee gets points for activating the “weak muscle.”
Thus, prior to the training, the neurobehavioral specialist “maps” brain activity and identifies areas where the brain is not performing at the level needed. Next, a computer protocol is designed to monitor those areas and provide feedback when trainee succeeds in activating the area.
To do the neurofeedback training, 3 or 4 small electrodes are placed on the trainee’s earlobes and head to measure the brain activity.
Trainee sees a screen with a game on it and is directed to manipulate images with his/her brain. When he/she succeeds (produces the desired brainwave frequency and amplitude), the game progresses, makes a sound, and the trainee earns points.
If a trainee gets distracted, the game slows down or stops until he/she once again produces the desired response. The therapist watches a separate screen that shows brain activity and allows her to monitor progress. Over the course of treatment (from 20 and more sessions) the trainee practices brain activity that is in a healthy range, the brain develops the ability to maintain the behavior itself.
Biofeedback (BF) is behavior-physiological technique which teaches to control a person’s body functions, such as temperature, skin conductance, heart rate, blood pressure, etc.
For biofeedback therapy, electrical sensors are placed on a trainee’s body (finger, earlobe, palm or other) to receive information (feedback) about the trainee’s body (bio).
This feedback helps the trainee focus on making subtle changes in his/her body, such as relaxing certain muscles, to achieve the desired results.
Biofeedback modalities include:
Temperature - Lowered temperature accompanies stress and lack of energy. Warming up helps to get rid of muscle tension and relax.
Electromyogram (EMG) - EMG measures muscle activity. Muscle tension indicates stress. Biofeedback helps to learn how to voluntarily relax muscles. To measure EMG, special sensors with a conductive gel are applied to the shoulder muscles
Basal Skin Response (BSR) - BSR measures skin conductance (or sweating). Sweating is a typical response to emotional and stressful situations. Biofeedback helps to practice voluntary control of sweating and cope with stress.
Heart Rate (HR) - HR is measured in beats per minute. Faster heart rates are often caused by stress: our hearts may race and pound when we are afraid. Other kinds of stress, such as depression, may result in lower heart rates. Through biofeedback one can learn to voluntarily control HR.
Respiration - Respiration is measured in breaths per minute. Respiration becomes faster, shallower, and uneven in stressful situations. To cope with stress one may use special breathing techniques learned through biofeedback.
Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE)
Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) is a neurobehavioral technique that utilizes pulses of light and sound at specific frequencies to gently and safely guide the brain into various brain wave patterns.
Manipulating the brain wave frequencies allows to improve attention/focus, regulate impulsivity, sharpen mind, boost mood, improve sleep, etc.
AVE is capable of producing appropriate brain wave frequencies in a given situation through the process of entrainment (the tendency of physiological processes to mirror environmental stimuli). AVE also increases cerebral blood flow (blood flow in the brain) and increases the metabolization of glucose in the brain for improved functioning of the neurons. The combined outcome of these processes is improved mental performance. It is an effective alternative therapy for many disorders such as anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), PTSD, Fibromyalgia and chronic pain.
The training consists of approximately 20-60 sessions (or more in some cases). Follow up visits from six months to a year may be suggested to monitor changes.
AVE approach is also known to successfully boost physical performance for athletes, academic performance for students and cognitive performance for seniors.
Neurobehavioral therapies are recommended for the following conditions/disorders:
- Attention Deficit Disorders
- Developmental Disorders
- Conduct Disorder
- Sleep Disorders
- Learning Disorders
- Brain Injuries
- Attachment Disorders
- Asperger’s Disorders
- Mood Disorders
- Tourette’s/Tic Disorders