WHAT IS Z-SCORE NEUROFEEDBACK?
A healthy brain is one that is flexible and dynamic. When it needs to accomplish a task, a healthy brain can recruit resources from other areas or networks in the brain, accomplish the task, and release those resources. Sometimes the brain struggles to recruit resources and other times the brain has a tough timing relaxing after a task. When this happens, symptoms may develop leaving brain function and efficiency potentially compromised.
Complex symptoms require a more complex brain assessment called a Quantitative Electroencephalogram (QEEG) assessment, or brain mapping. This assessment allows for an in-depth, objective understanding of what is going on in the brain and helps to guide neurofeedback training. Electrical activity across the brain is recorded, analyzed, and compared to age-normed (averages based on age) databases. This information is used to evaluate brain function, performance, understand where client’s symptoms may be coming from, and how to make an optimal change. We need to define what is considered “optimal” and train the brain towards that. This is where Z-scores come in.
HOW DOES Z-SCORE NEUROFEEDBACK WORK?
Z-Scores are statistical data used to compare to what is considered optimal or balanced; in this case, how the brain performs. A normative database is created from thousands of QEEGs thought to have “normal” functioning that are arranged by age and gender. A Z-score = 0 does not mean “normal” in terms of intelligence or abilities. A Z-score = 0 reflects when the brain is most dynamic and displays its greatest flexibility. It’s evident that there would be variation among individuals, which is accounted for by standard deviation (SD). Optimal brain wave activity falls between oneSD above or below Z = 0. Brain wave activity that is less than normal falls between two SDs above or below Z = 0. Generally, any activity that falls more than 2 SDs above or below Z = 0 is considered abnormal brain wave activity and may be linked to the client’s symptoms.
When your QEEG assessment is compared to a normative database, this tells us which areas in the brain are optimal, too high, or too low and in what brainwave frequencies when compared to the norm. Your brain is then trained towards this optimal/balanced in multiple dimensions (communication, speed of information transfer, activation processes, etc.). Thousands of Z-scores are monitored in real time and when these Z-scores enter the "optimal" range, the client is rewarded with audio and visual feedback. The more of these Z-scores enter the optimal range, the greater the amount reward. Over time, the brain is trained to be more efficient, which may result in the reduction of symptoms.
WHO IS A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR Z-SCORE NEUROFEEDBACK?
Neurofeedback can be helpful for those who have more complex cases. Z-score training can be used for children as young as 12 years of age and does require the client to be seated for about 45-60 minutes during training. Populations who are struggling with more than one condition such as ADHD and a Mood Disorder or Anxiety as well as a sleep issue. Below is a list where Z-score Neurofeedback Training may be helpful:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Attention Deficit (ADD) and Hyperactivity (ADHD) Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Concussion, TBI, and Post Concussive Syndrome
- Depressive Disorders
- Memory Issues
- Panic Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sleep Disorders
- Stress-Related Disorders
Please note that services are not covered under OHIP, but may be covered by insurance or extended health care benefits.