The Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) is often referred to as the brain’s conductor because, when working well, it facilitates other brain regions into working together as a cooperative whole, thereby helping with:
- emotional stability
- executive functioning
- better access to memory
- awareness of consequences
- self control
- focus & attention
- concussion recovery
- relief from migraine pain
Conversely, a large number of psychopathologies and learning disabilities are characterised by a lack of activation in the PFC, along with many parts the brain failing to sufficiently work together as a cooperative whole.
A box containing infrared sensors is placed over the forehead, suspended from a headband. When neurons in the PFC are activated they send out a signal for an increase in bloodflow to bring nutrition, and also to help dissipate the heat generated by the neural activity. The sensors on the forehead are tuned to pick up the fluctuation in temperature associated with amount of blood flow in the PFC. Feedback is accomplished by watching an engaging DVD that stops and starts as the temperature, generated by fluctuating blood flow, rises and falls. By learning to keep the movie in play we increase our capacity to engage the Prefrontal Cortex, thereby enabling an ease of access to the desirable behaviours listed with bullet points immediately above.
Better control over engagement of the PFC enables it to have an increased moderating influence on the powerful Limbic System deeper down in the brain’s structure. Over-activity in the Limbic System is associated with stronger less controlled experiences of emotional states such as anger, anxiety and depression. Improved functional neural connection between the PFC and the Limbic System enables us to make sense of our emotions, allowing incorporation of a thoughtful response to what our emotions are telling us is important. In this way pIR HEG neurofeedback aids the acquisition of emotional self-regulation, rather than being taken over by excessive anger, anxiety, or depression.
As the capacity for our thinking mind and our feeling mind comes together we become more integrated, at ease within ourselves, and in our interactions with those around us. This increase in integration between our thinking and feeling capacities has implications beyond simple symptom relief. The growing integration we experience supports us in our journey of human development over the life span, enabling us to access an increased quality of life.