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Train your brain at Neurofeedback Center

Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune The Client Interaction Screen used at the Tahoe Neurofeedback Center displays a video game-like program that helps users train their brains to function differently.
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Allen Silver used to sleep one hour every night if he was lucky.

“I literally couldn’t sleep,” Silver said. “I couldn’t close my eyes because my pupils were shaking so violently.”

In 1999, Silver was walking back from the cafeteria to a portable at the former Al Tahoe Elementary School. Snow slid off the roof and knocked him unconscious. A colleague called 911, and paramedics arrived at the scene to help Silver.



The accident left Silver with a cervical spinal injury, chronic pain and insomnia.

Five years after the accident, he decided to try neurofeedback after undergoing different medical procedures.



The process involves stabilizing the nervous system, which makes it calm, controlled and balanced, said John Finnick, international neruofeedback instructor and educational psychologist. The client takes part in exercises to produce certain patterns of brain activity.

Sensors are placed on the client’s scalp, which are attached to an instrument and read by a computer. Images then are displayed on the monitor.

To train the brain to produce the desired patterns, the client looks at a Client Interaction Screen, which displays different programs that look like video games. Silver said he prefers the Pac-Man-like version.

Finnick said they train clients to alleviate their particular symptoms by teaching them to adjust their brainwaves.

“That’s the key,” Finnick said, “to make it individualized. It’s not a cookbook approach.”

When a client produces the specific brainwaves to alleviate their symptoms, they are rewarded with a Pac-Man icon moving across the screen. If they don’t, the Pac-Man doesn’t move.

Since Silver began the treatment, he is able to sleep and deal with his chronic pain better than before.

The method also can be used to help individuals with seizures, attention-deficit disorder, fatigue and everything in between.

Some people need to relax their system, and some people need to activate it.

“We’re looking for that place in the middle,” Finnick said.

The training also helps individuals with stress. It teaches people to take an extra half-second to either act or reflect, Finnick said.

Silver said he’s noticed a difference in many aspects of life. He said he’s been an impulsive person his whole life, and now he’s more reflective. When he’s at the grocery store and has to wait in line at the checkout, he doesn’t get frustrated anymore.

Finnick said neurofeedback can be used on its own or as a supplement to other forms of medical practice. The method can be used on children up to adults in their 90s.

“Everyone has a brain,” Finnick said.


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