Neurofeedback for a Flexible Brain

HEG: Hemoencephalography

HEG: Hemoencephalography is a method of measuring brain function by measuring the brain blood flow.   Hershel Toomim first coined the term in 1997.

Toomim discovered that brain blood flow is voluntary, and can be trained using neurofeedback techniques.  With the sensor giving feedback of increased blood flow, we can voluntarily increase brain blood flow at the location of the sensor.

Why is brain blood flow important?
Active areas of the brain are marked by high oxygen density and higher than normal temperature.  The blood carries the fuel for the brain: oxygen and glucose.  When an area of the brain is more active, it has increased blood supply.  The brain dilates the capillaries of the area in use to bring more blood supply.  With continued use, more capillaries and more synaptic connections between neurons are built in that area.

When we increase blood flow, that area of the brain is able to do it's job better and more efficiently.

Advantages of HEG

Faster results:
HEG vs EEG: continuous performance tests:  HEG showed a 1 point gain per session, compared to a 1/2 point gain per session of EEG neurofeedback on the TOVA test (Test of Variable Attention).

Ease of training the frontal lobes of the brain: HEG is not affected by eye blinks or facial movement which cause distortion when using EEG.

Why are the Frontal Lobes so Important?
The frontal cortex (frontal lobes) is often  called “The Executive Brain” for good reason.  It is the control center and has neuronal
connections to, and exerts some control over, all other parts of the brain.

Sensory input gets filtered in the frontal lobes to determine if it is something important to  pay attention to (or not).

Sequential processing, including using language and executing tasks in proper  order, takes place in the frontal lobes.  Increased blood supply helps the brain accomplish these tasks.

The frontal cortex is in charge of inhibiting impulses, when appropriate.  If the frontal cortex is not functioning well, a person will show a lot of impulsive behaviors.

Also involved in this inhibition is control of migraines.  Jeffrey Carmen has shown that when the frontal cortex has increased blood supply, migraine headaches are well controlled.

The frontal lobes are important in the function of working memory.  Working memory is important for reading comprehension and carrying out tasks.

Frontal lobe hypoperfusion (low blood supply) has been shown to be a factor in Autism, ADD / ADHD, depression, and schizophrenia.

There are two types of HEG:

Near-infrared HEG (nirHEG): uses a spectrophotometer to measure the oxygenated blood flow inside the skull.  The bone is translucent and lets light in.  The Instrument measures the amount of blood that's carrying oxygen.   This is similar to the "pulse-oximeter" that is used as a finger clip in the hospital, and that shines a red light through your skin to measure the blood oxygen level.  
The advantage to using the nirHEG is that the elastic band on the head is easily moved to any location on the scalp to train the corresponding area of the brain.

Passive Infrared HEG (pirHEG): this uses an infrared camera mounted on an elastic band.  The camera measures heat.  It measures heat in the cortex of the brain, not the surface of the scalp.
Because the camera is alittle bulky, and because of the physiology of the effect, we usually use the pirHEG only on the center of the forehead.