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Using Neurofeedback To Improve College Entrance Exam Scores

Posted on July 3 2013

By Brad Oostindie, MA - Clinical Director

Over the past several months several parents of high school age children approached me about using neurofeedback to improve college entrance test scores such as the ACT and SAT.  Over the past 10 years of practicing neurofeedback as a specialty I have run across several participants who reported a significant increase in ACT scores subsequent to neurofeedback training for another issue or concern.  In many of these situations an ACT score increase of 3-7 points was observed.  The most recent report I received was an increase of an ACT score from 23 to 29 upon completing a neurofeedback protocol of about 30 sessions.  In fact, over the course of practicing neurofeedback I do not recall ever running across a situation where a decrease in ACT score was observed post neurofeedback.

Because of the interest in this area I thought it would be good to review the available research on this topic and offer opinions on the topic on our website blog.  Unfortunately, there are very few documented studies of controlled research related to this subject.  In a 2005 study in Hartford, Connecticut, repeat SAT scores improved by 233, 180, and 136 points for three individuals following 10 half-hour neurofeedback sessions. A typical test-retest improvement for SAT is reported to be only 14 points according to Educational Testing Service data.  For those unfamiliar with how to evaluate an effective study, a sample size of 3 is hardly enough to be considered adequate size.  However, the results are very encouraging and in combination with many neuro-therapists observed “results” with participants who report an increase in ACT/SAT scores, it serves as a starting point for identifying a possible usefulness in using neurofeedback as a tool to use in improving one’s performance on these type of tests.

Related to this topic are many controlled studies (with adequate sample size) that show increase in IQ scores post neurofeedback training.  Typically these increases can be in the range of 10-12 points, an increase that exceeds what the test makers would suggest could occur by chance in a test-retest situation.  Since IQ is typically seen as a measure of the brain’s overall intelligence and potential (among other things), an increase in IQ can result in improved test taking abilities and problem solving in responding to test questions.

At this point the neurofeedback community needs a well-defined, controlled, adequately sized study of participants who complete a standardized neurofeedback protocol in between SAT or ACT test completion to objectively measure whether or not significant score increases occur, and whether or not these increases can be reasonably connected with the neurofeedback experience.  Personally, I believe a positive connection will be observed between neurofeedback and ACT/SAT score increase should this type of study be completed. 

If you are interested in using neurofeedback for your son or daughter prior to them taking or retaking the ACT and/or SAT, please contact our office for a 12-16 session package.  1-800-850-0535. 

Ready To Focus founder Brad Oostindie on The “Tech-ology” Show

Posted on February 19 2013

On February 19 Ready To Focus founder Brad Oostindie had the chance to join Heath Mulliken and Anthony Casey on the The “Tech-ology” Show - an online show featuring technology, theology, and “everything in between.”  They completed a quick overview of neurofeedback and then discussed how Ready To Focus has been providing neurofeedback services to Global Partner’s missionaries and aid workers around the world.  They also discussed integration of behavioral healthcare services in the Christian arena and the mission/values of Ready To Focus.  Here is a link to the show in case you missed it. 

Professional Golfer Gives Testimony of How Ready To Focus Has Helped His Game.

Posted on November 26 2012

Professional Golfer Russell Surber becomes the second professional golfer to utilize the services of Ready To Focus.  The positive results he experienced happened immediately upon beginning the program.  Beginning his season in 2012 Russell scored some of his best and consistent scores in tournaments in Arizona and Hawaii.  He then went on to place 15th at the ATB Financial Classic on the Canadian Golf Tour.  His training program consisted of a combination of neurofeedback and biofeedback to help produce a calm, focused, and un-distracted mental state for both his brain and central nervous system.  Russel states, “since I have begun training with Ready to Focus I have experienced dramatic changes in my ability to relax and focus more deeply under pressure. I was skeptical in the beginning but I was amazed at the results. I feel more focused and free on the golf course thanks to Brad Oostindie and his team at Ready to Focus. I highly recommend this program!!!”  We look forward to seeing Russell back on the Canadian Tour this year as well as at Web.com and PGA tour events.  Russell will be wearing the new Ready To Focus logo on tour this year.  If you are interested in our specialized assessment services for prep, college, and professional athletes check out our brochure on the Ready To Focus program page

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Russell Surber (courtesy of Cantour.com)

New Research in Using Neurofeedback Assessment to Determine ADHD Type and to Individualize Training

Posted on August 28 2012

Recent research published in the Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback journal (September 2012 Vol 37, No 3) shows the benefit of individualized neurofeedback training based on the assessment provided.  The article titled “The Effects of QEEG-Informed Neurofeedback in ADHD: An Open-Label Pilot Study” reported four types of ADHD assessment results:

1. Theta/Beta dysregulation.  This type of dysregulation indicates excessive under-focused brain wave activity and lack of beta (focused).
2. Alpha dysregulation.  Alpha is a type of day dreaming brain wave activity.  Excessive amounts lead to lack of focus due to day dreaming.
3. High Beta dysregulation.  High beta is over-focused activity - leading to distraction, anxiousness, and obsessiveness. 
4. SMR dysregulation (or Low Voltage).  Lack of SMR leads to distraction and inability to sustain effort.

The article reviewed research on which groups above typically respond to stimulant medication (#1 and #4) and which do not (#2 and #3). 

Depending on the dysregulation type (#1 through #4) and specific protocol can be developed to address the issue.  This leads to higher success rates using neurofeedback. This research article reported a 76% success rate (defined as a 50% or more reduction in symptoms post training - in this case about 30 sessions total).  At Ready To Focus, we have been following this type of protocol and have developed specific training screens for each issue.  Our office and home based participants are individually assessed by a Doctoral or Master’s level psychologist and assigned to a specific protocol or protocols to increase success rates. 

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