Peak BrainHappiness Training Blog

A parents and therapists dream come true

Dr. Jon Cowan - Tuesday, June 14, 2016
We have just discovered a neurofeedback training system that can improve a child's attention while simultaneously training them to feel happier!  
Dr. Tato Sokhadze and Robert Daniels have just finished writing a paper about the effects of training adolescents with the Neureka! protocol of the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer.  They were aiming to test its ability to improve happiness, but they also measured the changes in the Integrated Visual and Auditory Continuous Performance Test (IVA+Plus) from before to after the 12 sessions of training.  These results were buried somewhere on one of Tato's disc drives until they started the writeup, so I never knew about them.   
I was quite surprised to find that the gains on the IVA+'s attention measures were actually much larger than Tato had found in a previous very successful published study of training adolescents with ADHD!  The Pre to Post Training Gain for the Attention Quotient was 15.64, which is 70% larger and much more significant (p=.006) than the 9.22 Gain in his ADHD study (p=.020) with the FocusedAlert protocol on our Peak Achievement Trainer in the same number (12) of sessions.  Similarly, the Sustained Visual Attention Quotient and Sustained Auditory Attention Quotient were considerably larger and more significant (both p < .011) than the ADHD study!  We all thought those results were remarkable for 12 sessions, but these are better.  The new study also showed a very significant increase (p<.001) in General Cognitive Functioning on another instrument, the MicroCog, largely due to an improvement in memory.  The populations are somewhat different, in that the new experiment trained a combination of normals and adolescents with a drug abuse history, showing few differences between them, but I think the ADHDs should have changed more because they had further to go. 
The researchers were also able to document significant changes in happiness in four different ways.  They used a Continuous Response Dial and asked the participants to change their rating every minute during the 25-minute session.  There were highly significant changes from minute to minute (p<.001), from session to session (p=.039), and from the beginning to the end of training!  These improvements were highly correlated (R=0.64, p<.03) with a remarkably linear improvement in Neureka! from session to session. The fourth way was a happiness questionnaire that changed significantly from pre to post training (p=.038) and actually improved a bit more after 3.9 months (p=.024)!
We know from a review of 157 studies that enhancing present happiness improves future overall health.  Another review showed that it makes people more successful.   
Sure, I'm pushing a lot of numbers on you, but I really want to drive home the point.  These are remarkably powerful changes for 12 sessions, especially in a small study (n=11)!  There's no chance this is by chance.  This points the way to a whole new approach to neurofeedback. 
What is the Neureka! protocol actually measuring?  It is a completely new neurofeedback parameter which clarifies a gamma rhythm at 40 cycles per second, and isolates the "Event Binding Rhythm" (discovered in the 1990s by Llinas) from several contaminants--the only measure that can accurately reflect it.  The brain scans itself 40 times a second, front to back, looking for patterns in the cortical response to perception.  It is actually the rhythm that underlies new learning by bringing the information back to the center of the thalamus, where it is integrated into the awareness of an "Event."  The thalamus then fine-tunes its response so that the next scan it sends focuses in on what may be important, and this process of selective attention continues.  From this perspective, its not surprising that measures of attention improve with Neureka! training, which selectively increases the amplitude and control over the Event Binding Rhythm.   
Its not surprising that the brain was designed to provide a reward for efforts to learn something new.  That's very adaptive for the survival of the individual and the species.  In this case, one of the rewards is feeling happiness and associated emotions.  This probably has a lot to do with activating the dopamine system.  John Starman and I wrote about this several years ago, in a report called "Understanding and Activating Your Brain's Pleasure Centers", which is available by filling in the Inquiry Form on the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer's website.  This will also put you on our mailing list so you will be notified when the paper has been made available.  I intend to fill in considerably more information about Neureka! in future newsletters.   
This combination of emotional and attentive improvements can potentially be useful for certain clinical conditions, ranging from ADHD to Age-Related Cognitive Decline to the Dysthymia associated with Drug Abuse.  The paper that Tato and colleagues recently published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience showing improvements in Autism in 18 sessions used the same protocol and design. 
Perhaps the largest potential market is training for children whose parents want them to be the best that they can be, whether or not they have a diagnosed problem paying attention.  None of the subjects in this study had a diagnosed problem with paying attention.  In fact, the one subject who was found to have ADHD was eliminated from the study. 
Children (of all ages) will enjoy this valuable training because it makes them feel good!  Its a game changer for neurofeedback and a real win-win!

Jonathan D. Cowan, Ph.D.
President and CTO, Peak Achievement Training

*       Manufacturer of the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer and the Peak Achievement Trainer,  

*       1103 Hollendale Way, Goshen, KY 40026
*       Voice: (502) 228-0605
*       Fax: (502) 228-1552

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