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Highly Effective and Faster Attention Training
A new study published in a major EEG journal shows how quickly the Peak Achievement Trainer can improve problems with paying attention.
The highly detailed statistical analysis shows that there are major changes in attention and behavior measures in just 12 sessions, rather than the typical 20-30 or more. That's just 5 hours of training.
Perhaps more surprising to EEG researchers is the fact that the Trainer was able to very significantly improve key ratios of brainwaves (theta/beta; theta/alpha) that relate to improved attention without actually training those brain rhythms directly.
This study, in the July, 2013 issue of the major EEG journal, Clinical EEG and Neuroscience, was written by researchers at the University of Louisville, including Dr. Estate Sokhadze and the Chairman of the Dept. of Psychiatry, Dr. Tasman. The principal author was a graduate student, Brent Hillard, M.S. The article, "Neurofeedback Training Aimed to Improve Focused Attention and Alertness in Children With ADHD: A Study of Relative Powers of EEG Rhythms Using Custom-Made Software Application", by B. Hillard, A. El-Baz, L. Sears, A. Tasman, and E. Sokhadze, can't be posted on our website due to the publisher's excessive charges. Many of the details are on this webpage, and we have added some results that weren't published in the paper. Although the paper refers to a clinical condition, due to FDA restrictions we shall discuss the improvement of "attention and behavior problems" exhibited by these 18 children and adolescents (average age 13.6).
The key advance here is that by using the Focus and Alertness protocols of the Peak Achievement Trainer, highly effective training was accomplished in a lot less time, a total of five hours--twelve sessions, only once a week. "Our study shows that improvement can be indicated within a shorter number of sessions (ie, 12) compared to previous protocols that required more sessions per participant (>30) to statistically indicate significant improvement either in EEG or in behavioral measures." The protocols were easier to understand, leading to faster training, and the clients were kept interested by the neurovideofeedback, which played a DVD with nature scenes only when they were focused and optimally alert. The DVD image became larger when they were more focused and brighter when they were more alert. Each training session took 25 minutes.
Clear Improvements in Behavior
There were some remarkable changes in behavior according to a rating scale, the Abberant Behavior Checklist, administered to the parents. Both hyperactivity (improved 29%) and lethargy (51%) were very significantly normalized, and there were even more significant decreases in inappropriate speech (34%) and irritability (29%).
Major Improvements in Attention in Twelve Sessions
These changes were paralleled by the improvements observed on the Integrated Visual & Auditory Continuous Performance Test (IVA+). The post-training scores on the Attention Quotient were significantly better, and reaction times were significantly faster. The sizeable enhancements of visual and auditory attention were about equal.
Changes in EEG Are Parallel to Other Studies and Faster
The Peak Achievement Trainer does not directly train the typical Greek letter brainwave bands. It does not target decreasing the amount of delta or theta, or increasing the amplitude of alpha or beta. Its measures are based on enhancing a more fundamental phenomenon known as desynchronization.
The surprising finding in the Hillard et al. study is that despite this, theta and delta power decreased, and the amounts of alpha and low beta increased as a result of training. All of these were very highly significant, p < .001. The theta/beta and theta/alpha ratios both decreased even more significantly. These are considered to be good indicators of clinical progress in paying attention. Look at the progress across Session values here. The F-statistics are very large, especially for Focus and Theta to Alpha Ratio.
The published study included some remarkable graphs of the improvements of theta/low beta and theta/alpha ratios over the twelve sessions. These were quite linear over the 12 sessions, indicating continuous learning from session to session.
The researchers also looked at the subject's progress from minute to minute and found clear increases in performance, as indicated by the two ratios, over the 25 minutes. These relationships indicated that there was faster learning earlier in the session, so they used a logarithmic curve to fit the data.
I couldn't leave out the striking three-dimensional graph showing the combination of the two effects--minutes and sessions.
In fact, the changes in the Focus measure were even more closely related to the session number, but that didn't make it into the final paper. Clearly, the subjects didn't get bored and tune out.
Applications of a Simple, Powerful Attention Training System
The Peak Achievement Trainer has many current and potential uses. We believe that its usefulness extends far beyond those who bear the clinical diagnosis. [In fact, we agree with the deathbed confession of Dr. Leon Eisenberg, the inventor of the diagnosis of ADHD, that it is really a man-made disease, a fiction created largely for the benefit of drug companies and physicians.] There is a much larger group of people who can benefit from improving their ability to pay attention, which waxes and wanes with a variety of circumstances, particularly as they age.
This system does not require any type of expensive and irritating brain mapping (QEEG) or similar evaluations to select a training protocol before starting. Yet it produces faster, more effective change than these methods do. It is an ideal way to work with most of the larger group with uncomplicated difficulties in paying attention. Although it may not be appropriate for completely training complex cases of brain malfunction, it may very well be a good way to start in those cases, due to the fact that the neurovideofeedback it provides is more understandable than QEEG-based feedback and will motivate the client to continue. This is particularly true if they have also been exposed to the Neureka! feedback, which trains them to feel happier and more satisfied. Even the most complex cases will usually have aspects that can benefit from improving fundamental aspects of mental functioning, such as Focus, Alertness, and Neureka!. When the point of diminishing returns is reached in these complex cases, it will be far easier to convince these clients to pursue a QEEG and further training.
A system that is far simpler and more generally effective than those currently being used by neurotherapists and other trainers will find widespread use in many places--schools, the workplace, executive training, athletic clubs and teams, senior centers, assisted living facilities, and health care centers.
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