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Now Offering pirHEG Neurofeedback at the Hallowell Center

What is pirHEG?

What can we expect from pirHEG training?

How does pirHEG training improve headaches?

Who is a good candidate for pirHEG?

What is the process?

Are there any side effects?

How long is each session?

How often are the sessions?

Where can I get more information?

What is pirHEG?

pirHEG stands for passive infrared Hemoencephalography (as developed by Jeffrey Carmen Ph.D). It is an evidence-based system of neurofeedback that helps one control blood flow or oxygenation to the frontal lobes of the brain. When the metabolic activity increases in the frontal lobes executive brain functioning improves.

Executive/organizational failures and impulse control issues characteristic of persons with ADHD are generally marked by prefrontal cortex trouble. Active brain areas are marked by high oxygen density and higher than normal temperature. Our brains have an amazing ability to supply extra blood preferentially to areas in current use.

What can we expect from pirHEG training?

Outcomes include improved attention, improved mental flexibility to shift between emotional states and states that require proficient executive functioning:  organizational ability, mood, planning and judgment. The severity and frequency of headaches decrease, if headaches and migraines are problems.

How does pirHEG training improve headaches?

The training increases prefrontal cortical activity by increasing control over the inhibitory effects of the prefrontal cortex. Patients being treated for migraine and tension headaches using pIR HEG consistently report spontaneous changes in emotional reactivity in the direction of emotional responses that are less rapid and less strong in response to stimuli that don’t call for a rapid and strong emotional response. After about 6 sessions it is common to notice that headaches are less intense and less frequent.

Who is a good candidate for pirHEG?

Good candidates are children and adults with ADD/ADHD, executive dysfunction, depression, head injury, mild cognitive impairment, mild-moderate dementias, Asperger’s syndrome, headaches/migraines. Good candidates have difficulties with:
•    Planning and Organization
•    Focus
•    Perseverance
•    Forethought  
•    Problem solving
•    Judgment
•    Self monitoring & supervision
•    Empathy
•    Ability to feel and express appropriate emotion
•    Impulse control
•    Influencing the limbic system
•    Learning from experience

What is the process?

pirHEG is an enjoyable, active form of neurofeedback. A comfortable, surface sensor is placed on the forehead while the patient watches a movie of their choice on the computer. The surface sensor picks up and reads the blood flow activity (thermal heat) in the frontal lobes of the brain (the seat of executive functions*). The information is transmitted through the cables via USB based bio- interface unit. The software then “feeds back” this info to the client thro the digital video display, DVD.

When the movie pauses the client must increase the metabolic activity in the front part of the brain to turn the movie back on by focusing intensely, but in a relaxed way, on a bar on the left side of the screen.  This behavior reinforces the client’s ability to shift control to the frontal cortex at will.  Once the blue bar surpasses the threshold (the threshold is set at the start by the clinician) the movie resumes. This occurs several times per session and the client gets plenty of practice shifting. When your frontal cortex is engaging well you get to watch your movie. When your PFC disengages the movie pauses. When we get involved in hearing and watching a story unfold that truly captures our interest our frontal cortex tends to switch off. So, the better the story, the more practice times you get in your appointment learning to switch your PFC back on again. With practice you start to sense what it feels like just before your frontal cortex disengages, and you learn to control this so it stays engaged during everyday tasks like homework and projects.

Are there any side effects?

Some short term fatigue and mild headaches are possible but are similar to the tiredness one might feel after a good deal of mental exertion.

How long is each session?

The active training last for 15-20 minutes per session. About 25 minutes is spent discussing patient progress. Sometimes, we’ll combine other types of neurofeedback, biofeedback and executive function training in the same session. 

How often are the sessions?

The frequency depends on the client’s needs and symptoms, but generally the sessions average 1-2 x a week for approximately 10-20 sessions.  

Where can I get more information?

Contact neurotherapist Rebecca Shafir at (978) 255 -1817 if you have questions. For an initial 90 minute pirHEG intake appointment call the Hallowell Center at (978) 287 - 0810 x113. See http://www.stopmymigraine.com for research articles.        


Hallowell Center Sudbury • 144 North Road, Suite 2450 • Sudbury, MA 01776 • ph 978-287-0810

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