Brain Mapping Can Identify ADHD

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first objective brain wave test to help properly diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (commonly referred to as ADHD). Christy Foreman, a director at the FDA, said in a statement that the testing would help healthcare providers more accurately determine whether ADHD was the cause of a particular behavioral problem. Since that time, neurofeedback therapy, using brain wave mapping technology, has helped healthcare providers and parents get an accurate determination of whether ADHD is the cause of a child’s struggles and provided therapy for a true health solution.

In fact, in 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report as a guide for medical doctors in choosing appropriate treatment interventions for many childhood conditions.  The report listed neurofeedback as a Level One, Best Support Treatment for ADHD – as effective as medication but without dangerous side effects.

This is great news for parents who don’t wish to medicate their children, as their young brains are still rapidly developing. Another thing to consider is that every medication comes with side effects, and every child processes medication differently.

“In fact, states Leanne O’Neil, owner of INDY Neurofeedback, “The  techniques used by INDY Neurofeedback have been used by many healthcare providers all over the world for the past 35+ years. In addition to identifying the brain wave patterns associated with ADHD, the testing also provides the basis for neurofeedback training.”

INDY Neurofeedback has helped children and adolescents overcome many of the symptoms associated with brain wave imbalance. The non-invasive brain mapping identifies unbalanced brain wave patterns that may be related to focus and attention issues. The results of this mapping are used to design a program to teach children how to better regulate their brain wave patterns.

Leanne O’Neil says, “We find that when a child (or adult) learns how to self-regulate brain imbalances, many behavioral issues improve. Students become calmer in class, more focused, and better able to concentrate. Confidence improves. Grades often go up. Behavior outside of school usually improves, too.”

Neurofeedback has been shown to help numerous other conditions in addition to ADHD, including: autism, dyslexia, insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain, headaches, memory loss, stress disorders, and post-concussion syndrome.

If you have a question about how neurofeedback can help you or your child, please call us at 317-888-8500, or email us at

Neurons, The Amazing Building Blocks Of Our Brains

“The human brain is nothing short of amazing,” says Leanne O’Neil, owner of INDY Neurofeedback. “From speaking, pattern recognition, reading, thinking ahead, and memorizing – to breathing, walking, digesting, and organ function — all begin with the fundamental unit of the brain, the nerve cell or neuron. It really is fascinating.”

brain mapping and neuronsThe human brain contains an estimated 90 billion neurons, each one a different size and shape. Interestingly, just one neuron can reach from one side of the brain to the other. But no matter the length or shape, each neuron links to hundreds upon hundreds of others in an amazingly complicated network.

Some of these chains of neurons send information to the brain from the body’s extremities, registering foot placement while walking or balance while climbing stairs, for instance. Others send information from the brain to the body, signaling the need to sleep, the sense of being full, or sending a complicated series of exercise instructions to the appropriate muscles of the body. Still other neuron chains share data among themselves to construct subconscious or conscious thoughts, store memories, and acknowledge emotions.

“Even the network of neurons in and of itself forges trillions of connections throughout the brain and body,” adds O’Neil. “That makes the human brain – as far as we know — the most complicated organ on the earth.”

Scientists hope to be able to map out the entire brain with all its connections. This knowledge will help us to more completely understand the distinct areas of the brain containing cells with similar structure, function and connectivity, and how and why they are connected to other areas.

We are well underway in this brain mapping process. Neuroscientists have already charted an equivalent map of the brain’s outermost layer, called the cerebral cortex. They have been able to subdivide each hemisphere’s folds into 180 separate parcels. Some ninety-seven of these areas have never previously been described, despite showing clear differences in structure, function and connectivity from their neuron neighbors.

“The brain mapping we do at INDY Neurofeedback is different, but just as fascinating,” says O’Neil. “It relies on information from a Quantitative EEG. Our software performs thousands of statistical calculations correlating the functions of brain location with the functions of each dimension of each component band. The software then takes these calculations and correlates them with the 50k normal and abnormal brain maps in the database. The items chosen for analysis are derived from functional MRI research and traditional neurological texts. It is amazing how much we can know about areas of the brain.”

If you have a question or a concern about brain function, let’s talk, neurons to neurons!

What is Anxiety Disorder?

According to the National Institutes of Health, some 2.6 billion people – or 33.7% of the population of the world — will at some point experience an anxiety disorder. And yet, the disorder is widely misunderstood.

The experience of clinical anxiety can range from distractedness, to persistent fretfulness, to a full-blown panic attack, complete with hyper-ventilation, heart palpitations, and other physical symptoms. All of it feels scary and difficult or impossible to control — which compounds the misery.

The most common anxiety disorders include: include general anxiety disorder, agoraphobia (or fear of being in public situations you can’t escape), social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), specific phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and separation anxiety disorder.

Happily, not only are these anxiety disorders diagnosable and controllable, but they are also very treatable.

Anxiety may, by definition, feel bad, but that doesn’t mean it is always bad. It exists as a way for your brain to grab your attention when you’re stumbling into danger, which is handled by two brain regions: the amygdala and the more complex cerebral cortex.

The amygdala processes very basic emotions like fear, anger, guilt, and envy. A good example of this is the fear you experience from a scary movie. The job of the cerebral cortex is to determine whether or not the threat is real, and what to do about it. Sometimes, however, the fear alarm gets stuck and the cerebral cortex has trouble trying to sort real risks from exaggerated ones. Moreover, extended bouts of insomnia can also produce anxiety.

How do you know if you have an anxiety disorder that should be addressed? Since there is no blood test to tell for certain, here are the red flags denoting a problem:

  • You have a high level of distress that gets in the way of day to day activity.
  • Your panic is persistent.
  • You avoid things because of your fears.
  • Your fears interfere with your daily life.

In general, says Leanne O’Neil, if your enjoyment of life becomes compromised by anxiety, it’s a good idea to seek help. Although no one can live a life untouched by anxiety, with the right skills and help, no one needs to live a life that is destroyed by it, either.

INDY Neurofeedback has an effective program to help those with anxiety. Come talk to us to see if it is right for you.

New Study Shows How Neurofeedback May Help Brains Self-Regulate

Cognitive behavioral therapy, commonly known as CBT, can help people better control their emotions by teaching them new ways of thinking. A recent study suggests this approach could be strengthened by using neurofeedback.

“To understand this study, you first need to understand how the brain works,” says Leanne O’Neil of INDY Neurofeedback. “The healthy regulation of our emotions involves our prefrontal cortex, responsible for the regulation of activity in many other areas of the brain, including the amygdala. The amygdala is an almond-shaped cluster of neurons located on each side of the brain, and is involved in memory processing, decision-making and emotional responses.”

“Problems like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety and panic disorders – which we see at the INDY Neurofeedback center every week — are associated with heightened amygdala activation. So, targeting this heightened activation area of the brain with neurofeedback could be beneficial, according to a group of scientists, who set out to prove their hypothesis.”

Scientists from the US, Germany and Switzerland joined forces recently to investigate whether the response of the amygdala to stress could be increased by providing participants with feedback on their amygdala activity while they tried to regulate their emotions using an fMRI brain scanner.

How the study worked

  • In the study,15 participants with good mental health were placed in a neurofeedback group while 11 others were placed in a control group. All participants underwent four weekly real-time fMRI emotional training sessions that involved looking at a sequence of negative emotional images (to provoke amygdala activation) and asked them to try to regulate their emotional reaction using a reality check
  • The reality check strategy involved using phrases such as “these are only pictures” and “I am participating in an experiment” (a form of cognitive reappraisal).
  • Only participants in the feedback group received visual feedback on their amygdala activity while they looked at the pictures and attempted to regulate their emotions.
  • Participants in the feedback group were also provided with visual feedback in the form of changing colored squares that corresponded with their amygdala activation. In the control group, these color squares changed randomly and the control participants were told they were meaningless.

What the study showed

  • By the fourth week, when participants performed the reality check, the feedback group showed significantly decreased amygdala activation as compared to the first week.
  • Interestingly, no such decrease of amygdala activity was observed in the control group even though they used the same reality check exercises.
  • The feedback group also exhibited better task-related communication between the amygdala and other brain areas involved in emotional control.

In short, although the sample sizes were small, this study strongly suggests that amygdala regulation can be trained and regulated. It also supports existing research showing promise for the application of neurofeedback in the treatment of problems like PTSD, anxiety, addiction, and depression that are associated with heightened amygdala activation.

Leanne O’Neil and her INDY Neurofeedback center team work with many clients suffering from anxiety disorders. If you would like to see if we can help you, give us a call to set up a free consultation.