We’re so used to improving ourselves through various forms of therapy, self-help books, meditation, and changing behavioral patterns, but how many of us have ever considered reconditioning our actual brainwaves?
If pouring over brain scans and using magnetic waves to artificially tweak neurological activity sound like something out of Total Recall, it absolutely is. It’s also is just another day at the office of Field in Rye Brook.
But, where one might expect some sci-fi headgear, there’s only a soft, sensor-studded swim cap and a comfortable leather recliner. Field offers “brain optimization” services — like quantitative EEG scans, live session biofeedback, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) — to help people live their best lives.
Field’s non-invasive, FDA-approved neuromodulation technology, coupled with personalized treatment can help individuals better manage stress and anxiety, depression, PTSD, severe trauma, and brain injuries like concussions, “[giving] you access to states of mind and body of which you’d never dreamed yourself capable.”
While a self-help book might focus on consciously changing your thought patterns, Field’s process focuses on achieving similar or better results by changing the actual electrical patterns firing in your brain.
Cofounder Devon White says, “We give people a firsthand view of their brain and then we take them through a safe and powerful experience using FDA-approved technology, and a non-invasive, science-based approach to change that allows their brains and their whole bodies to work in a more optimal manner.”
Know Yourself Better® reports include detailed breakdowns of the different types of human brainwaves, their correlating moods and biological purposes, and the structures of the brain.
An experience at Field begins with their custom Know Yourself Better ReportTM, which is based on a qEEG, and provides an overview of how your brain works. According to Field’s website, “Your brain’s activity determines almost everything about what you do and how you feel. But what most people don’t know is that you have more personal control of your brain than you ever imagined. By taking advantage of neuroplasticity — your brain’s ability to change — you have the power to update your beliefs, emotional states, attitudes, and behaviors.”
A typical biofeedback session at Field may include simply relaxing (trying not to fall asleep) while hooked up to a brain monitor or performing some simple mental exercises while fitted with an EEG cap and headphones. Depending on the protocol, sounds may be played as a reward for producing or reducing specific brainwave activity — for us a pleasant acoustic guitar played when our calming activity increased, and a calming ocean played when became too mentally active. If we got too relaxed and started to drift off to sleep, a happy chirping bird woke us up. Cognitive maps generated by these scans clearly mark where in your brain and at what wavelength you tend to have higher or lower than typical electrical activity.
The result is essentially positive reinforcement (think Pavlov) and classical conditioning to encourage your brain new, healthier thought patterns that, over time, become routine.
Had an amazing time interviewing the FIELD team at the @drsusanblum Center in Rye Brook today! They scanned my brain and here are the takeaways: • I’m very analytical • I’m not great at processing my emotions within a situation • I have trouble turning off my brain when it’s time to relax/sleep. In other news: Fish are wet! Sky is big! Fire hot! (But actually it’s super cool to look at a map and say, “That dot right there? That’s my continuous sense of general worry. Right where I always say I feel it.” Science is goddam FASCINATING.
White explains, “We treat symptoms in the sense that we really want to help you be the best version of yourself, starting with [figuring out] how your brain functions when it’s in homeostasis. Is it optimized to be in balance and to respond effectively at whatever life throws your way?”
Kathleen Boyle, DNP, FNP-C, RN, Field’s director of diagnostics and neuromodulation says, “We want to reward your brain by giving it a sound every time it does something that we want your brain to do. If we decrease this or increase that neurotransmitter, that often is synonymous with relief of symptoms.”
Boyle explains that while traditional therapy focuses on how childhood and other significant traumas can manifest psychologically in adult life, Field looks to the physical electrical patterns of the brain to address the same complaints. “We’re looking at brain firing patterns and then optimizing them in areas…because that is exactly what medications like antidepressants and that sort of thing do. They increase the activity there.”
“Many [clients] would try other medications and be upset they didn’t see at least a 40% improvement,” she says.
White says that with regard to traditional medications, “Chemicals get in and they … are flooding in through the serotonin system and all the pathways, so even if you only need serotonin in one area, all of a sudden you are getting it everywhere, which means you are going to have worse side effects, and when you take the drug away you are left without the ability to continue having the experience that the chemical intervention was allowing. With neurofeedback, what you are doing is training the pathways to fire in a way that is most ideal and optimal for the brain, so your brain [builds] the habit neurally.”
“We see up to an 80% reduction in meds,” White says.
Activity maps utilize standard deviations where green represents the average neural activity of 500 people with your same general age and gender, blue and purple representing decreased activity or strength, and orange and red representing higher-than-usual activity or strength.
By taking base scans of a client’s brainwaves, Field determines a personal baseline from which individual goals can be addressed. “Field understands that every person is unique, has different goals, different states of well-being and different brains,” White says. “By having a team of experts look into all these aspects we tailor make a program for each of our clients.”
“We see clients from both ends of the wellness spectrum: people interested in relieving symptoms by updating the neural firing patterns underlying them [and] people who want to balance, optimize, and enhance their brains and experience of life,” White says.
Each neurofeedback session lasts about a half hour, with TMS sessions 60 to 90 minutes. Most issues, from PTSD to anxiety and depression, can be helped in about 20 to 30 sessions, starting two or three a week and tapering off as treatment progresses. To help some conditions like ADD/ADHD especially in young children, can require up to 50 sessions.
Initial sessions with qEEG and a Know Yourself Better® report cost $795 (though Field is offering a $250-off discount for the next week, through September 23), with follow-up sessions typically running $650 or $750 apiece depending on symptoms. (ADD/ADHD sessions only cost $300 each, while the higher priced packages offer 10-session bundles for $6,500.)