Getting Started 1: EEG and/or HEG?
There are two main brain training technologies we recommend. Either can be used alone, but they complement each other. Begin by deciding whether EEG (electroencephalography) or HEG (hemoencephalography) better fits your training goals—or choose to combine them.
EEG measures electrical patterns in the brain and can guide it into more functional patterns. Recording electrodes are attached to the scalp. Information from the electrodes is fed to an amplifier and then to training software. The software gives feedback (information, music, videos, games) when the brain is moving in the desired direction.
By changing patterns and connectivity in areas from the hairline back, EEG can calm an overly excited brain, activate a lazy one, improve communication within it and release subconscious material. It can train over most of the head and can train multiple locations at the same time.
The TLC System is based on the belief that effective EEG training begins with an assessment of the brain’s current state. Guessing at what to train can have negative effects or waste training sessions. We provide a TLC Assessment tool and analysis services.
EEG’s main limitation is training the brain’s executive center, the PFC (prefrontal cortex). EEG measures from the forehead are often overwhelmed by signals produced by eyes and facial or blink muscles. Training the EEG in all that “noise” is difficult and often frustrating.
EEG offers the broadest range of training options and sites, but at a price. Skills must be developed. With the TLC training videos and (ideally) a partner, it takes several hours practice to learn how to find sites on the head, attach electrodes, and record and recognize clean EEG. Gathering assessment data and participating in producing the plan requires several more hours practice. Then the training can begin. Each session still requires attaching and removing the electrodes.
To learn more:
Introduction to Brain Training video.
Read our extended discussion of Getting Started with EEG.
The PFC (prefrontal cortex), the brain’s executive center lying behind the forehead, controls attention and blocks distractions. It integrates a constant flow of sensory, emotional and memory material and decides what it means and what to do about it. It screens outgoing physical, verbal and emotional impulses. It regulates mood. It’s a key to working memory. It’s the center for motivation, planning and organizing.
HEG measures changes in levels of metabolic activity in the PFC. A headband sends this information to the amplifier which sends the information to the software. The software provides feedback, as HEG readings rise during a session, telling you the PFC is activating, increasing blood supply and blood oxygen levels. The busiest neurons in the brain have more of what they need to work (oxygen and glucose). As the distribution system improves, the trainee is better able to control executive functions for longer periods.
HEG requires no assessment. There is no measuring, cleaning or pasting. Training time is an hour or two a week. It’s fast and easy to learn. We provide free online installation, and a training video that illustrates how to conduct your training sessions.
Although some trainers use HEG at various sites off the PFC, EEG is probably a better option for other training sites, where interference from hair can be an issue.
To learn more, nirHEG Overview slide presentation.
Combination: HEG + EEG
Combining HEG with EEG in the same session, doing HEG first and then EEG training, can be very powerful. Getting the combination system also allows the trainer to begin working with the software and training HEG immediately while getting up to speed on EEG training.
1. Find one or more others to partner with you if doing EEG. If possible make sure that one or more of the group are comfortable and experienced with Windows.
2. If you are concerned about your computer knowledge, have difficulty learning new skills or are feeling a lot of anxiety, get HEG. You are most likely to do it, you can do it with many people easily and most brains will improve with a stronger PFC.
3. If you have limited time for study and practice but need results right away, get HEG.
4. If executive functions are your issue, get HEG. If trauma or strong emotional reactions are your issue, you will probably need EEG, alone or in combination with HEG.
5. If you have used HEG and decide there are remaining issues that require EEG, you will already be familiar with the basics of brain training, and can add the EEG equipment using one of our packages.