14 July 2015

Biofeedback at the APA Convention in Toronto

The Biofeedback Federation of Europe provides professionals worldwide with a greater understanding of biofeedback. We're continually inspired by work that is being done in the field. But for every health professional using biofeedback in practice, hundreds are not. We were pleased to see that the upcoming APA Convention will feature a symposium on biofeedback with speakers covering topics such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, stress and peak performance.

Biofeedback and Neurofeedback

Biofeedback is a learning process in which people are taught to improve their health and performance by observing signals generated by their own bodies such as heart rate, temperature and skin conductance.  This information is fed back to the person in real time, allowing them to learn to control their response to different stressors.

One of the presenters taking part in the symposium on "The Evolution of Psychotherapy---Can Biofeedback Advance the Practice of Psychotherapy?" at the APA Convention is Dr. Lynda Thompson. Dr. Thompson is best known for her work in the field of neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback that measures brain activity. Together with her husband, Dr. Michael Thompson, she runs the ADD Centre at the Biofeedback Institute of Toronto. Dr. Michael Thompson describes neurofeedback as, "a non-invasive learning procedure that allows the client to train their own brain, practicing healthy patterns and normalizing functions. This learning is vastly accelerated because we are able to specifically target the learning to the area(s) and the neural networks of the brain that are not functioning appropriately. It is always combined with Heart Rate Variability (plus other peripheral biofeedback measures as necessary for a particular patient).

"Some of the symptoms that can be worked on in training include: anxiety and depression; ADHD; learning difficulties such as dyslexia and math problems; migraine; memory difficulties;  sleep disorders; anger control; and difficulties interpreting social cues such as is found in Asperger’s syndrome and autism."



APA Convention - Toronto, ON - August 6-9, 2015

If you're planning to attend the APA Convention in Toronto, we encourage you to take a moment to see how you can incorporate biofeedback into your practice. In addition to Lynda Thompson, the presenters in the symposium include: Carol S. Austad, Cosima Hoetger, Paul Lehrer, Donald Moss, and Patrick Steffan.

Session Title: 2316
The Evolution of Psychotherapy---Can Biofeedback Advance the Practice of Psychotherapy?
Session Type: Symposium
Date: Fri 08/07 4:00PM - 5:50PM
Division/Sponsor: 42-Psychologists in Independent Practice
Building/Room: Convention Centre/Room 206D North Building-Level 200

Click here to read full abstracts.

More About Dr. Lynda Thompson and the ADD Centre

Over the last 23 years Dr. Lynda Thompson with her staff at this Centre have carried out over 150 invited workshops and lectures in 23 countries on 5 continents and have professional publications that include: 8 book chapters, 25 journal articles, and 4 books including the basic textbook in the Neurofeedback field, The Neurofeedback Book:  An Introduction to Basic Concepts in Applied Psychophysiology (2003, 2015), and Functional Neuroanatomy Organized with Reference to Networks, Lobes of the Brain, 10-20 Sites, and Brodmann Areas (2015).

Neurofeedback Workshop in Stoney Lake, ON

Drs. Lynda and Michael Thompson teach two annual neurofeedback workshops at the Viamede Resort, Stoney Lake, Ontario near Peterborough and 1 3/4 hour coach ride from Pearson International Airport Toronto. The upcoming workshop dates are:

September 21-25, 2015
May 30 - June 4, 2016

More information is available from www.addcentre.com or by a telephone call to the ADD Centre, Biofeedback Institute of Toronto (905-803-8066).

Click here for details on workshop.


The Biofeedback Federation of Europe is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Biofeedback Federation of Europe maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

15 May 2015

Enhanced Feedback with Zukor's Air

Zukor Interactive burst into the biofeedback market several years ago, praised for their modern and engaging bio/neurofeedback game Zukor's Grind. Some of you might recall our review of this game in another blog post. Although an impressive start, Zukor Interactive wanted to broaden the appeal of video games and biofeedback to beyond Zukor Grind's primary demographic of young boys and skateboarding-enthusiasts. Their next installment for bio/neurofeedback games is a clear winner: Zukor's Air.

Features of the Game
Zukor's Air is a feedback game that involves flying a character across an endless ocean landscape. As with all feedback sessions, the client is hooked up to the desired biofeedback or neurofeedback sensors, and they start by selecting their avatar: the choices range from various birds, planes, mythical creatures and space ships. The session itself involves watching the feedback screen as their character flies endlessly into to horizon, while boats, islands, glaciers, planes, blimps and other combinations there-of go by. Although there's a massive variety of environmental features in the game, the primary goal of the game remains the same: an attentive feedback session without any jarring or overly-stimulating highlights. The skyline is beautiful, although not overwhelming; the surrounding landscapes and vessels are interesting, but not distracting.

As with Zukor's Grind, Zukor's Air allows for the customization of the features. Perhaps you want a simple training session, while flying over the rare iceberg, or perhaps you wan many different islands and volcanoes.

Feedback Keeps the Client on Course
As always, if the client is not able to maintain self-regulation, the game gently lets him or her know: either the plane diverts off from the chosen flight trajectory, missing the aerial targets and missing out on potential points, or the plane slows down and slowly falls toward the water. If the client continuously fails to meet the training criteria, the session automatically stops. Whether performing EEG biofeedback for anxiety or attention, or more relaxing heart rate variability training session, the Zukor's Air provides simple, ideal gaming environment.

Multiple "Levels" to Unlock
The game's primary reward of collecting points for self-regulation is put to good use by the expansion of a secondary reward system: unlocking of new characters. Once a player collects enough points (the primary reward) across multiple sessions, they get to unlock a new character. Younger clients (and their parents) will be very familiar with this system as is mirrors the current trends in standard video games.

The selection screen for choosing your character - do you prefer the bald eagle or the helicopter?

If any of you are interested in learning more about Zukor's Air, click here to check out the game in action. If you have questions, feel free to send us an email at shop@bfe.org. And remember, any clinician interested in purchasing Zukor's Air from the BFE is entitled to a 30-minute introductory session on the game with Jon Bale, the BFE's research manager.

Zukor's Air
Available Now in the BFE Online Shop

15 April 2015

BFE 18th Annual Meeting in Rome

As spring comes to a start, we at the BFE mark the end of our annual BFE Meeting which this year was held in Rome, Italy. Months of preparation came to fruition with clinicians and clinical leaders from all over Europe and the world converging over 5-days to learn about the latest methods and practices in biofeedback. We are extremely pleased with the results of the event, and we would like to thank all attendees, workshop presenters, scientific day speakers, and poster presenters for making the conference a success. Below, Jon Bale, the BFE's research manager, shares his perceptions of the Rome conference, as well as what the event means for the BFE's online education and software for the next year.

The BFE conference is always such a hurricane of events, with rarely a moment to sit down. There are so many interesting workshops and scientific presentations to check out, as well as people for me to engage  to learn about the exciting work they are doing in the field. Aside from the little hiccups that accompany all live, multi-day events, I'm extremely proud of everyone that helped coordinate the event and grateful to all of those who attended. It has always been a goal of ours to provide clinicians of all skill levels and students the opportunity to learn directly from the expert in their fields, and I definitely believe that standard was maintained this year.

My conversation with attendees left me with several positive, stand-out impressions of  the meeting. Amongst these highlights are:

Linda Walker, MHR, LPC presented two workshops, one on "Pratical Tips for Getting the Most out of Biofeedback"and the other on "Z-Score Neurofeedback: Tips and Methods for Effective Integration in Practice". Her name has long been cemented as the BFE's most popular online instructor, and it was confirmed by participants that her hands-on approach to learning, with calm and clear explanations, made her a winner here as well.

Mari K. Swingle, Ph.D., daughter of well-known psychologist and author Dr. Paul Swingle,  presented three times during scientific day on the neurofeedback assessment and training of digital technology and internet addictions. Due to the fascinating (and even frightening) nature of this topic of internet addiction, i-technology and youth, the BFE has invited her to present a webinar on this timely topic. Keep your eyes open for that. (You might say to yourself: "Yes, but Dr. Swingle already has spoken on that...". Well, from whom did you think he learned this?)

Biofeedback and sports fans received quite the treat: 2-days from Dr. Lindsay Thornton, 2-days from Dr. Penny Werthner, and a scientific day presentation where heavy hitters of the field Dr. Bruno Demichelis and Tim Harkness of Chelsea F.C. converged for a talk on the "Unique Peak Performance Database". Attendees of the scientific day got to witness quite the passionate discussion.

 Those that are interested in sleep issues will be happy to hear that the BFE has asked Lothar Niepoth, head of the German Biofeedback Society, to present his 1-day workshop on "Biofeedback in the Treatment of Insomnia" as full online class.

Dr. Steven Baskin received quite glowing reviews for his 2-day workshop on "Biobehavioral Considerations in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Primary Headache Disorders". Participants enjoyed his hands-on approach and ease of interaction. If the BFE is lucky, we may also be able to share some video of his workshop.

Who doesn't love a conference room that's reminiscent of some type of United Nations round-table discussion? Attendees of Drs. Lynda and Michael Thompson's workshop certainly enjoyed it.

Although I was left a bit exhausted by the end of the conference I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet with and learn from, I look forward to the next meeting and I hope to reencounter the many new colleagues and friends made this year. From my all my online work during the year, I very much enjoy finally putting faces to the voices with whom I teach and speak to.

The BFE would like to thank everyone who attended our Rome meeting. We hope that the conference provided you with the opportunity to make new friends, connect with colleagues and share knowledge and expertise with participants from around the world. We were fortunate to welcome workshop presenters who are leaders in their respective fields, along with a diverse group of speakers and poster presenters who addressed a wide variety of biofeedback topics as part of the scientific program.

We would also like to thank our host, the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, for providing a location for our meeting. Special thanks go out to our sponsors – without their support the conference would not be possible.

It is indeed a pleasure when so many members of the biofeedback community come together to share ideas. Thank you again for being a part of BFE 2015.

2 January 2015

The ClinicalQ: Workshops and Online Learning

One of the most popular software suites published by the BFE is Dr. Paul G. Swingle's ClinicalQ and BrainDryvr suite. Users of the software appreciate the built-in instructions to guide the clinician, the simple to read reports generated by the software and most of all the ease and accuracy of the ClinicalQ assessment. 

We are pleased to offer a number of online events for 2015 and are happy to announce that Dr. Swingle will once again be joining us at the BFE Annual Meeting that will take place this year in Rome.

Biofeedback Federation of Europe 18th Annual Meeting
Join us in Rome to attend two 1-day workshops with Dr. Swingle:
Basics of the ClinicalQ Database and Braindriving
Neurotherapeutic Treatment of Depression

Click here for more information.

2015 ClinicalQ and BrainDryvr Webinar Series
Each webinar in this years' series provides an introduction to the Swingle's ClinicalQ assessment and BrainDryvr methods followed by a discussion of a specific application. Attendees can ask questions during the live interactive format.  (These sessions are open to users of all equipment platforms.) Topics to be covered this year are:

Neurotherapeutic Treatment of Addictions - January 13th
Neurotherapeutic Treatment of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, and Pain - April 7th
Neurotherapeutic Treatment of the Sequellae of Emotional Trauma - June 16th
Neurotherapy and the Unique Challenges of Adopted Children - November 7th

Bonus FREE webinar open to all:
Keeping Mentally Sharp While You Age - February 10th
Register at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/992140577

All webinars take place from 3:00-4:00 pm Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Click here to register or to view descriptions of each of the webinars included in the series.

Monthly Grand Rounds - Second Session Added
Dr. Swingle works with the BFE to support users of his method by offering monthly "grand rounds" sessions during which participants can present cases for review and guidance. Last year we added a second monthly session to meet increased demand and now offer both Thursday and Friday groups. (Sessions are open to users of all equipment platforms.)

2015 - Swingle Grand Rounds - Thursday Series
January 8 | February 12 | March 5
Time: 3:00-4:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)

2015 Swingle Grand Rounds - Friday Series
January 9 | February 6 | March 6
Time: 11:00am-12:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)

Click here for registration information.

The ClinicalQ and BrainDryvr Suite published by the BFE
The ClinicalQ and BrainDryvr software suite published by the BFE and designed by Dr. Paul Swingle provides a simple method to examine brain activity as a basis for determining training plans quickly and effectively. Results from the assessment are arranged in an easy to read Excel report that includes notes for quick interpretation. The documentation included with the suite guides users through the entire process of hardware hook-up, client preparation, impedance check, data recording and reviewing. The suite documents include a digital version of Basic Neurotherapy: A Clinician's Guide. Sample data is also included with the software program to allow purchasers to see a real-time recording of a BrainDryvr session. (The software is compatible with the BioGraph Infiniti system.) 
"The ClinicalQ is not a poor practitioner's substitution for the full nineteen-site QEEG. Many mini-Q systems are being marketed on exactly that basis. The purpose of using my ClinicalQ is to make neurotherapy much more efficient."  - Dr. Paul G. Swingle, Basic Neurotherapy: A Clinician's Guide
The BFE offers an live online course, co-instructed by Jon Bale and Dr. Paul Swingle. Jon provides all the how-to info on using the software in an easy to understand format and Dr. Swingle joins one of the sessions to offer clinical expertise.

If you are looking for an assessment method that you can easily incorporate into your practice, you can learn more about the software here:



To learn more about Dr. Swingle's method and adding neurotherapy to your practice, contact the ClinicalQ and BrainDryvr BFE Team at blueswingle@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Swingle Clinic Website
About Dr. Swingle
Basic Neurotherapy: A Clinician's Guide (new edition available soon)
SoundHealth Products

15 October 2014

The BFE Goes to the Circus

BFE Italia's Davide Pierini assisting in Dr. Edson Filho's study.

by Jon Bale, BFE Research Manager

This was definitely a change of pace from my normal schedule: standing in a multi-storey training room, with aerial trapeze artists dangling from long fabric strips in one corner, a team of acrobats doing handstands one on-top of another on the far side of the room, and myself among the jugglers. No, I'm not a juggler; I was there to run a psychophysiological assessment on them. 

Off to the Circus We Went!
My situation came to be when I was approached by Davide Pierini, the head of BFE Italia, who received a request for assistance on running a study by Edson Filho, Ph.D., from the Behavioral Imaging and Neural Dynamics (BIND) Center at the University of Chieti-Pescara (Università degli Studi G. d'Annunzio Chieti e Pescara), Italy. Through a competitive selection process, Dr. Filho was granted access to the students of the National Circus School (École Nationale de Cirque) in Montreal, Canada. As one of the top competitive circus schools in the world, with only a small skip away from the headquarters of prominent circus companies such as Cirque de Soleil, Tohu, Seven Fingers circus, and Cirque Eloize, no sport scientist would pass over such an opportunity of access, and the BFE was just as excited to help with the project. Off to the circus we went!

The goal of the study was to examine the psychophysiological readings of jugglers at different performance levels, and to compare when the juggler is performing on their own and when teamed up with a partner. The hypothesis was that we would find increased coherence between the individuals of each juggler team.

Measuring performance level of jugglers on their own or with a partner.

Meeting Unique Challenges
There were inherent difficulties to deal with in the data acquisition process of the assessment. Juggling requires movement so electrodes and equipment needed to be well secured to the subjects. Artifacts needed to be minimized to the best of the jugglers' abilities, but within the confines of their performance. To address these issues, we fashioned nylon shirts and belts in order to better hold the equipment and cables taut to the juggler's bodies. We recorded four-channels of EEG, along with heart rate, respiration and skin conductance. There was some definite trial-and-error preparation on how to best collect our data, but in the end it all worked out really well.

We recorded four-channels of EEG, along with heart rate, respiration and skin conductance.

I am happy to report that two full days, and much EEG conductive paste later, we had our study data. Even with helpful tips from professionals, my juggling has not improved, but I have a much greater appreciation for athletes that train in the circus arts.


How the BFE Can Help with Your Research
Planning a study and need assistance with the physical setup or design of the evaluation software? Looking to create a protocol tailored specifically to your own needs? The BFE is here to help with their Software to Meet Your Needs program, as well as Private Mentoring to answer your clinical questions.

Click on the links below to visit the BFE Online Shop for details on these two programs:
Software to Meet Your Needs
Private Mentoring

For more information, contact:
Jon Bale


17 September 2014

Depression: Retraining the Brain

Discussions of depression and suicide are typically saved for Depression Awareness events, such as Depression Awareness Month coming up in the United States in October, but the recent passing of a beloved comedic and drama film star has the public eye focusing itself on the matter a little early. 

Numerous experts and media personalities have been examining depression from different perspectives. One message we've heard repeatedly is "suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem" (ironically stated by the actor himself) as a reminder for those suffering from depression to seek help. The fact is, there are a lot of treatment approaches out there from antidepressants to a variety of counseling techniques. Lifestyle changes regarding exercise, nutrition and sleep are helpful,  as is maintaining a strong social support network. Often, "seeking help" means trying a number of approaches, or combinations thereof, to see which one works best.

We challenge mental health practitioners to do the same and take a look at another approach that is often overlooked  - neurofeedback. In an upcoming webinar,  Lindsay Hollmuller, MS, LPC, BCN will discuss the benefits of using neurofeedback and quantitative encephalographic analysis with clients suffering from depression. 

One of the more interesting aspects of depression is that genetic susceptibilities are part of the origins. Some individuals carry genetic markers for depression, meaning they have a predisposition to these mood states, not unlike how some families have higher incidents of heart attacks. Disregulation between activity in the frontal lobes has been demonstrated in numerous studies to correlate to depression. This research, pioneered by Richard Davidson's research group, has shown via quantitative encephalography (qEEG) and neuroimaging, that there is a neurophysiological basis for depression. The brain's neurons fire at a variety of speeds, producing different intensities of activity across different firing rates or bandwidths. The asymmetry in the brainwaves between the left and right hemispheres is linked to Alpha bandwidth (8-12Hz) amplitude, specifically the lack of Alpha amplitude in the left lobe compared to the right lobe.

Are the depressed therefore at the mercy of their own brain, without any possibility of respite?
Perhaps there was once a time when the answer was yes, but neurofeedback offers its own answer: no. Just as doctors encourage patients with a family history of diabetes to modify their eating habits in order to avoid the onset of diabetes, neurofeedback practitioners work with clients in order to modify brainwave patterns associated with a predisposition to depression. This training need not be only a preventative treatment, but an excellent adjunct treatment to help those who currently suffer from depression.

How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?
The markers for depression manifest themselves as disregularities in the activity levels of the frontal lobes, which through the use of neurofeedback can be retrained. Neurofeedback therapy (or neurotherapy) can correct the hypoactivity in the left hemisphere of an individual, by reinforcement through operant conditioning. An electrode is placed on the individual's left frontal lobe to measure the brainwave activity in the Alpha bandwidth. When the activity increases to a higher level, the individual is given visual and auditory feedback (hearing a tone or seeing an animation/movie play) to reward them. Over multiple sessions, the individual's brain can slowly increase activity in the Alpha range, such that the hypoactivity in the left frontal lobe is no longer apparent.

A case study presented by Lindsay Hollmuller, MS, LPC, BCN
When “Jane Doe” arrived to her first neurofeedback session to treat her symptoms of depression, she reported feelings of sadness, difficulty in concentration and a decrease in functional activity and motivation. Treatment for “Jane Doe” consisted of 2 sessions a week for 3 weeks, a total of 6 sessions of neurofeedback.  According to her self-report daily progress notes, “Jane Doe” reported improvements in mood and emotional outlook indicating more energy, an increase in motivation and concentration, as well as a more “calm” attitude.  She verbalized that it seems as if “the fog has been lifted” and indicated that she feels she is able to more easily make decisions. 

Does this make neurofeedback a miracle cure?
No, although it opens a whole new avenue of possibilities for treating depression.  Like with all therapies, progress with neurotherapy is only achieved when the clinician and the client wholeheartedly work together. Set-backs can sometimes occur. According to Lindsay, "Aside from the mood state disorder itself, there can be other complications in treating individuals for depression with neurofeedback. Neurofeedback requires consistent, regular sessions. If an individual’s lack of motivation is severe enough, they are more likely to be inconsistent with treatment. Missing or cancelling sessions frequently may result in a disruption in treatment can may affect progress in treatment. Many times, individuals will begin to experience the positive effects of the treatment, and be more motivated to attend regular, consistent sessions."

The BFE would like to thank Lindsay Hollmuller, MS, LPC, BCN, for her recent 1-hour webinar presentation on Depression: Retraining the Brain, where she will discussed the research that suggests a neurophysiological basis for depression, and through the use of quantitative encephalographic analysis (QEEG), how retraining the brain through neurofeedback can assist in modifying brain wave patterns associated with depression.

Depression: Retraining the Brain Webinar
Lindsay Hollmuller, MS, LPC, BCN
Recording now available.

The BFE offers a wide range of online classes and webinars ideal for mental health professionals who are interested in learning more about neurofeedback. For more information, visit the BFE Online Shop.

16 July 2014

Zukor's Grind Review - The BFE Weighs In

The BFE's Research Manager Jon Bale reviews Zukor's Grind - A next-generation feedback game for neurofeedback and biofeedback.

"We're having trouble engaging our younger patients. Do you have anything that's good to use with kids?"
"I'm looking for something that's more video-gamey..."
"Do you have any feedback better than just these animations?"

These are some of comments I receive in emails and hear from time to time in the BFE online sessions. Clinical applicability and concise data collection are definite cornerstones in biofeedback and neurofeedback, but health professionals also care about subject engagement. They want their feedback tools to impress their clients with cool graphics and imagery, illicit of video games we see on the market today. Watching animations or DVDs is not always enough, so clinicians are always keeping their eyes open for that next application that can capture the attention in their practice.

This is where Zukor's Grind comes to impress. 

Zukor's Grind is both a biofeedback/neurofeedback training tool and video game. The normal type of training that we are all accustomed to is with bar graphs, thresholds,  feedback animations and/or DVDs. Zukor's Grind enhances training by replacing the simple feedback animations and DVDs with a feedback skateboarding game. Changes in the subject's physiology or brainwaves dictate the pace and progress of the game, the number of points scored, what skateboarding tricks are achieved, and which special effects are activated. 

If, for example,  you are training the subject's heart rate variability using spectral frequencies, as the Low Frequency (0.08 - 0.12 Hz) percent of total power increases, the skateboarding character performs a variety of skateboarding tricks and gains points to reward the subject. If self-regulation is maintained successfully for longer periods of time, periodic special events take place to reward the player as the skateboarding character progresses through the choice of levels.

There's no doubt in my mind that children and teenagers (and even some adults) will respond to Zukor's Grind. It is similar in terms of visual design and detail levels to what one can find on the market for true video games. Those younger subjects that are marked with difficulties paying attention and responding to a computer screen, who often remark "this is boring", will become a little less difficult for you.  The many settings that control the feedback in the game can also be easily toggled on and off, meaning each cool effect, sound or background feature can be adjusted. Progressively adding or changing game elements every few sessions could continually spur the subject's motivation with the therapy.

A question that arose: would I really want to use the a video game-like tool with an ADHD boy, where I am down-training Theta (4-8Hz) and up-training Beta (15-21Hz)? Would I be improving attentional issues, or simply presenting something that the subject would naturally already respond to? Would this training extend to mundane moments when attention is important, like listening to a boring teacher? 

My above, initial concerns with Zukor's Grind regarding novelty and over-stimulation were alleviated by regulating the game's use and adjusting game settings. The game can be used as a reward from "standard" training, such as the last 5-10 minutes of a successful training session. Even if the subject's ability to pay attention is based somewhat on the novelty of the game and the its flashiness, they are still be training during these "reward periods".  The game's detailed setting can also be turned down, in order to avoid artificial attention unrelated to the subject's "working to focus".

To see for yourself, play my review video below to get a better idea of what the game looks like, the settings you can play with and how the game is set up from the perspective of both the clinician and client.

At the BFE, I maintain an air of skepticism when manufacturers and developers come to show us their amazing, must-have product. Most of the time, what they have to present does not interest me. Personally, I lose immediate interest with any hint of marketing buzzwords and over-descriptive use of adjectives. My initial reaction to the Zukor's Grind pitch was similar, but upon using the game in a training session my opinion quickly changed. I'm stoked for skateboarding with my brain!

Zukor's Grind is now available in the BFE Online Shop. Click here for more information.

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