R. Adam Crane BCIA Senior Fellow, BCIAEEG, NRNP Diplomate

I think so and its name is Synchrony. Synchrony training is of great interest to many Neurofeedback practitioners. However, there seems to be a number of opinions about what synchrony means. We hope to add to the confusion by explaining our views. We will also explain why we feel synchrony training is an important part of Neurofeedback’s present and an even more important part of its future.

As multiple channel Neurofeedback systems come into fashion synchrony strategies will become critically important to this field. Stroebel, Fehmi, Green and others came to the view that there was a special relationship between EEG Synchrony and quality of some mind states in the early 70’s.
This insight came as a result of measuring the synchrony present as unusually gifted individuals demonstrated relatively high orders of perception and self-regulation.Not many are aware that the Nobel Laureate Francis Crick, coming from the traditional neuroscience “Binding” theory of consciousness, is reported to have speculated that EEG Synchrony may be an accessible and practically usable signature of consciousness. To quote from his book Astonishing Hypothesis, ” Both German groups suggested that these 40hz oscillations might be the Brain’s answer to the binding problem. They proposed that the neurons symbolizing all the different attributes of a single object (shape, color, movement, etc.) would bind these attributes to each other by firing together in synchrony.”

Now, Crick is limiting his investigation to visual awareness or “consciousness”. His notion is that synchronous firing is a way different types of neurons bind their different perceptions producing the phenomenon of consciousness. Others are signing on to this speculation. I doubt they are aware of the work that inspired the same kind of insight by early biofeedback researchers.

Our considerable experience with synchrony training has convinced us that it has substantial applications with problem patients including Alpha P and Minus types. However, we believe that synchrony will play an even greater role in Performance / Life Enhancement training. The value of right / left hemispheric synchrony training is widely recognized but less is known about rear /frontal. It is a reasonable hypothesis that rear / frontal is at least as important and relates to perception of the principle, the idea, the vision, if you will, and then the bringing of that vision into the real world, via the frontal lobes.

Our views are based on clinical observations and obviously hypothetical as much more controlled research needs to be done. As we all know there is almost no funding available for such research so we are forced to use our clinical observations as a practical way of arriving at our working hypothesis until society realizes the incredible value of what we are working on and provides adequate research funding.

There are several versions of what synchrony is when it comes to EEG feedback. Let me try to tell you how we are looking at it. Also, some of you will find the following technical jargon daunting as I do. I’m quite dependent on the assistance and interpretation of our technical team (Stroebel, Caldwell and Pitchittino). In 1986 when we first decided to take on the task of creating the first and hopefully the best computerized NeuroFeedback training system in the world, we were told by some well trained technical people that we would never be able to deliver true NeuroFeedbacik synchrony on four brain quadrants within one second epochs. Others including Chuck Stroebel and Les Fehmi said it could be done and by 1989 we had done it.

We put together a form of synchrony, which from our point of view has been exceptionally successful. Some say we just got lucky but that luck was founded on John Pitchittino and Sam Caldwell’s brilliant execution of Chuck Stroebel’s algorithm. Because our philosophy is to try to integrate into our software all ideas that we believe have merit, we wound up with four types of synchrony in the DOS software and have introduced a fifth version in the new CapScan Windows Solution. Our intention has always been to make all valid synchrony algorithms available so practitioners can do their own experimentation and decide for themselves what works best.

There are several ways of looking at synchrony. Obviously, the system which comes closest to matching the kind of synchrony created by the human brain is most valuable. Some feel that synchrony may be seen as same frequency even if the angle of the sine wave is 180 degrees out of phase. Others add making the amplitude equal as synchrony criteria. This does not seem to us to be intuitive because it is not as close as other techniques to what actually happens in nature. Still, we provide the option of experimenting with it.

We think the best way to arrive at synchrony includes relative coherence of the sine wave. This implies the activation of the energy and other potentials yielded by the laws of resonance. This kind of synchrony, harnessing the power of resonance, is similar to the coherent synchrony that makes AC current travel farther than DC, or a sense of beauty when two notes from different instruments harmonize, or the proverbial bridge to collapse if the Roman soldiers did not break step. Pitchittino uses the example of two children swinging on swings side by side at the same frequency and holding hands at the same time. They have to be together. Just swinging at the same frequency is not enough.

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Biofeedback/Neurofeedback Training and Seminars are designed to teach clinicians biofeedback fundamentals and cutting-edge applications.