The LENS, or Low Energy Neurofeedback System, is a new EEG biofeedback system being used in clinical settings for the treatment of numerous difficulties and disorders. Unlike other neurofeedback methods which display information on a computer screen to guide the client to develop healthier brainwave patterns, the LENS uses a very low power electromagnetic field, similar to the ones that surround digital watches, to monitor a person’s overall brain activity and to carry feedback to a number of sites on the brain. The feedback travels down the same wires which are used to measure the brain waves. Although the feedback signal is very weak, it produces a measurable change in the brainwaves without conscious effort from the individual receiving the feedback.
How does LENS differ from other neurofeedback systems?
The LENS differs from other SMR and alpha training systems of neurofeedback in the following ways:
- While other devices aim to entrain the brain into new habits of brain wave activity, the LENS system works on disrupting those brain wave frequencies or clusters of frequencies that have been locked together into rigid patterns, and assist in developing more flexibility to pursue the tasks at hand.
- The person who is undertaking the neurofeedback does not need to understand the mechanisms involved or attend in any particular way during the session. This makes it particularly advantageous for young or restless children who would otherwise have difficulty understanding or focusing on a particular task.
- Where traditional neurofeedback uses protocols on a select number of areas of the brain to target abnormalities, the LENS system is guided by a topographic EEG map of the whole surface of the brain and provides treatment to the whole brain.
- Anecdotal evidence suggests that many clients require fewer treatment sessions using a LENS program than a traditional neurofeedback entrainment system.
What happens during a session?
All LENS neurofeedback sessions begin with an initial session which involves a comprehensive mapping of the activity of the brain at 21 different points. The therapist prepares each point on the scalp and then uses the computer to take a reading of the electrical amplitudes at each site.
This reading provides the “map” of the amplitude of electrical activity in each part of the brain and guides the therapist in terms of the order of sites in which to provide stimulation in subsequent sessions. Those sites with lower amplitudes are considered to be better functioning than those displaying higher amplitudes. Using a “whole-of-brain” approach, treatment is applied to all sites but proceeds from the sites with the lowest amplitude to the highest amplitude. This is so that the better functioning sites can respond and are recruited into the process of assisting the lower functioning sites later on in the treatment.
Treatment consists of tiny electromagnetic signals which act as the carrier wave to assist the brain in reorganizing its own activity. These frequencies are determined by the person’s dominant brainwave and are “offset” several cycles per second faster than the dominant brainwave. It is delivered sequentially to each brain site (no more than 7 per session) for no more than one second per site. This input is much weaker than what the brain receives from holding a mobile phone to a person’s ear. As treatment progresses, it is expected that the amplitude of the EEG diminishes across the spectrum at each scalp site.
Conditions the LENS is used to treat
The ultimate goal of the LENS program is flexibility in neural functioning. It is being successfully used with people who have Autism Spectrum Disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome, depression, PTSD, ADHD, chronic fatigue, Acquired Brain Injury and fibromyalgia.
Other treatment benefits may include: decreased irritability, anger, fatigue and anxiety. Clients have also reported increased mental clarity, sleep, energy, concentration, attention, short term memory and ease of functioning.
How effective is the LENS?
It is acknowledged that this is a new form of treatment and the number of randomly controlled outcome studies is still limited; however, clinical experience in the USA, Australia, Canada, Germany and Mexico has shown positive outcomes and some research studies have already been conducted. For some preliminary research studies, see:
Larsen, S., Harrington, K., & Hicks, S. (2006). The LENS (Low Energy Neurofeedback System): A clinical outcomes study of one hundred patients at Stone Mountain Canter, New York. Journal of Neurotherapy, 10(2-3), 69-78.
Hammond, D.C., Editor (2007). LENS; The Low Energy Neurofeedback System. Binghamptom, NY, The Hawthorne Medical Press.
Mueller, H.H., Donaldson, C.C.S., Nelson, D.V. & Layman, M. (2001). Treatment of fibromyalgia incorporating EEG-driven stimulation: a clinical outcomes study. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57(7), 933-952.
Schoenberger, N.E., Shiflett, S.C., Esty, M.L., Ochs, L. & Matheis, R.J. (2001). Flexyx neurotherpay system in the treatment of traumatic brain injury: An initial evaluation. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 16(3), 260-274.
Further controlled research studies are anticipated. You can also find more information at www.ochslabs.com.
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