Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find questions that have been submitted to Dr. Marvin Sams. To read the answer to the question simply click on the question you are interested in. When you are finished with the reviewing the answer, click [ Hide ] or on the question again to hide the answer.
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Top 15 Frequently Asked Questions
- How can NeuroMatrix™ training help so many different kinds of problems?
The answer is that performance, mood, memory and behavior are all products of the brain. If we are suffering in any of these areas, it means our brain is not doing its job efficiently. Attention and focus problems (Attention Deficit Disorder), learning difficulties (Learning Disabilities), stuck mood patterns (depression and anxiety), redundant behavior (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), and seizures (epilepsy) are all examples of a brain doing its job poorly. The only difference between any of these so-called "brain disorders" is where and in what way the brain is mismanaging its energy. The Quantitative EEG detects and details the source of the neurological inefficiency. Specific NeuroMatrix™ Neurofeedback training protocols then assist the brain in healing and repairing itself. Once done, the symptom(s), whether it be compromised attention, mood, memory, or behavior, is significantly reduced or eliminated all together. NeuroMatrix™ builds peak and elite athletic and academic performance by optimizing brain function. Because all performance begins and ends in the brain, when your brain does its job with greater ease and efficiency, your performance, by necessity, must also improve.
- How does NeuroMatrix™ Neurofeedback training help my brain work better?
The special software of the neurofeedback computer is used by the neurotherapist to isolate a narrow band of frequencies the brain is producing to perform a complex task (playing a video game). The information is rapidly returned back to the brain in a language it understands (tones that change in relation to the frequencies the brain is using to perform the task). By returning only a narrow band of the total energy the brain is producing in the limited performance area, it is able to focus on, and make adjustments to, the nerve cells it is firing and the circuits it is using to communicate with other areas. As the brain enhances its own efficiency, our attention, mood, and memory improve accordingly.
- What can NeuroMatrix™ do for my child's Attention Deficit Disorder?
The only way to determine the root cause of an attentional deficit or learning problem is to use the Quantitative EEG to identify the neurological inefficiency. When the pattern has been identified, the brain can be taught to decrease the attention-dampening slow waves or the idling Alpha wave activity while working on a task. When training is complete, attention and focus are "automatic," hyperactivity is reduced or eliminated, and self-esteem restored.
- How does NeuroMatrix™ training compare to prescription drugs?
Psychiatric drugs, such as the stimulants, Ritalin™ and Adderal™ (attention problems), and the mood-altering drugs, Prozac™ and Zoloft™ (depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive behavior), may have immediate benefit for the short term. But, taken for an extended period, these powerful drugs can produce unfortunate difficulties. Side effects can be serious and permanent (such as tics and movement disorders); any positive benefit will probably last only as long as the drug is being taken; and, because the original brain dysfunction has probably not gone away, withdrawal will likely be physically difficult and emotionally overwhelming. Recent research has shown attention, learning, and mood problems to be more about faulty brain circuitry and an inability to effectively modulate frequency resources than a neurochemical imbalance. The Quantitative EEG defines where the brain is not efficiently managing its energy; NeuroMatrix™ training helps the brain restore and normalize faulty circuits and create the frequency resources it needs to do its job more effectively. NeuroMatrix™ training has helped many people alleviate their distressing symptoms, avoiding prescription drugs all together, or, under their doctor's guidance, to naturally, safely, and almost effortlessly withdraw from prescription medications.
- Does neurofeedback have potential side effects?
Neurofeedback is not a drug or medical procedure in which something is done to the physical brain. It is closer to personal tutoring, in which the teacher tests the student's present knowledge and understanding, teaches the student what he or she needs to know about the subject, then retests to determine how well the information has been learned. With the neurological tutoring of NeuroMatrix™, the Continuous Performance Test and Quantitative EEG determines where the brain is doing its job well and where it needs help, the brain is taught to better produce critical working frequencies and to re-wire circuits for enhanced performance, the Continuous Performance Test and Quantitative EEG are repeated to determine how well the brain "learned its lessons," and if more sessions are needed. Because NeuroMatrix™ training only sends auditory information to the brain on the frequencies it is using to perform a task, there are no true side effects. A brief period of light headedness or a slight headache, a quickly passing sense of tiredness, or a short period of feeling highly energized, while unusual, can occur in those with a significantly damaged brain that has the resources to rapidly normalize its function.
- Is neurofeedback safe?
The neurofeedback computer detects the energy the brain is using to perform a task (usually a strategic video game), rapidly divides the complexity of the brain waves into narrow bands of energy, then plays therapist-selected frequencies back to the brain as unique audio tones. Nothing is done to the brain . . . except give it information on how it is performing the task. Because the decision to increase or decrease any performance frequency is made solely by the brain, the process is perfectly safe.
- How is neuromatrix different from other neurofeedback?
NeuroMatrix Neurofeedback training is created from my 45 years clinical and research experience in EEG (brain wave analysis). For the past 20 years, I have been developing advanced neurodiagnostic techniques and highly specific remedial neurofeedback protocols based on these experiences. For example, I train Gamma waves (40Hz (Hz is cycles per second) activity) and Ultra fast brain waves (40Hz to 128Hz activity). Very few therapists train 40Hz activity (important for memory and learning efficiently), and I am the only one training the Ultra fast frequencies (these were discovered in my research). I have developed combinations of frequencies that allow me to do the equivalent of three of more traditional neurofeedback sessions in just one session, and, in special situations, train several electrode sites simultaneously instead of just one or two. Very importantly, I do an 11 channel EEG baseline before every session. The brain wave activity is edited (artifacts such as eye blinks and muscle tension are removed) and averaged into eight frequency bands. This data is then compared to that from the previous session, to the original Quantitative EEG data, and to the average of all the previous baseline sessions. In this way, it is objectively known how well the brain is "getting the lessons" and how much has been accomplished. These are some of the differences.
- I have a busy schedule. How long will the training take?
Training sessions are one hour each. A minimum of four sessions a week is recommended for the most effective results. For those coming from out of town and busy people wanting or needing to complete training quickly, two sessions can be done daily with one hour break between sessions. Working five days a week, the first 20 sessions can be completed in just two weeks. After 20 sessions, a week (or longer) break is taken to allow the brain to integrate the training. The testing is then repeated to determine how much has been achieved, and whether additional sessions are necessary to more fully optimize performance and mood. Most people complete NeuroMatrix™ training in just 30 sessions or less. However, those suffering from a traumatic brain injury, stroke, and serious birth injury may require more sessions for complete remediation. Training does not have to be complete for benefits to kick in. For most, focus, attention, memory, and mood are noticeably improved by session 10.
- What is the cost/price range?
Please call our office at 972.612.0160 for the current fee schedule.
- Where can I find this treatment (what state)? How much does this cost?
NeuroMatrix Neurofeedback training is only available at my center in Dallas, Texas. Please call my office at 972.407.9895 for the current fee schedule.
If our brain is able to build new circuits and repair itself, why aren't we all geniuses, highly successful, and living an effortless life?
Neuroscience's answer to this question is that our brain's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Because our brain is self-building, if chemicals, drugs, or trauma cause damage before or after birth, or our childhood was especially challenging physically or emotionally, our brain will likely begin to create performance circuits that are weak, inefficient, or even inappropriate for what we want or need to do in later life. From a "real world" perspective, this means that what was a rather minor or insignificant physical injury or emotional incident early in life can produce a serious attention, learning, or emotional problem in later life. Everything can seem to be going along quite well for the child who fell off a slide at age two - until she or he starts school and has to sit quietly, or later, needs to learn to read or do math problems. Then, it is discovered that the minor incident or accident was not so minor after all. The brain problem, like compound interest, has multiplied itself many times over. So, while our brain's strength of building and re-building itself can cause us to become smarter and more adaptable, physical injuries or difficulties in life can actually cause our brain to make us less bright, more rigid, confused, and even depressed or anxious. NeuroMatrix™ is specifically created to identify and correct miswired brain circuits and inappropriate frequency responses. With enhanced function, the brain is better able to maintain itself in a more efficient and resilient state. We are able to live in accordance with Nature's original intention: To become wiser and more intelligent, with a greater memory and a more resilient mood, as we mature and move into our "golden years."
- Can NeuroMatrix™ help those with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease?
Formalized research has not yet been done to determine how much NeuroMatrix™ training would benefit those with these two devastating neurological diseases. However, I have developed two models, based on published neuroscientific research, that suggest Neurofeedback might indeed be helpful.
- Why haven't I heard about neurofeedback?
Probably the biggest obstacle to widespread popularity of Neurofeedback is tradition. The medical community is trained to prescribe "drugs for a disease," rather than teach "self-regulation for self-mastery," psychological and counseling professionals have been taught to "talk about it," and the insurance industry is structured around "diagnosis and treatment" of a "medical condition" (traditionally, drugs or surgery), or a "mental" diagnosis" and (talk) "therapy."
- Can a marginal mentally retarded person can get help in increasing IQ from 66 to atleast 75?
NeuroMatrix Neurofeedback training remediates and optimizes brain function. Performance (attention, focus, learning), memory, mood, and behavior all tend to improve. While I am not a fan of IQ tests, a study done a few years ago showed a significant increase of IQ scores with traditional neurofeedback (around 15% as I remember). So, I would say that the IQ would improve, along with quality of life.
- Where can I get more information?
Other Questions Submitted to Dr. Marvin Sams
- Can NeuroMatrix™ help me make better grades?
The availability of NeuroMatrix™ training means that the dysfunctional or inefficient brain of the child or adult with learning, attention, or mood problems can not only be identified, it can also be taught to overcome the difficulty. An early formalized Neurofeedback study shows an increase in IQ test scores of 15-22 points, and a grade point average increase of 1.5. Many have already gone from failing to passing. With NeuroMatrix™, the disadvantaged becomes advantaged, the average student can become above average, and the above average student has the potential to move into the superior range.
- Can NeuroMatrix™ improve my game?
NeuroMatrix™ training coaches your brain to more effectively focus on game play, to respond quicker and more accurately, and to not be overly distracted by crowd noise and the movement and activities of other players. For some, Heart-Link™ (Heart Rate Variability) training is especially important: It teaches the player how to create a calm focus ("The Zone") under the stress of game conditions. NeuroMatrix™ assists weekend, amateur, and professional athletes alike in achieving new levels of performance. Professional athletes I trained have set personal, team, and league records, reporting increased endurance, greater adaptability, and improved accuracy under the pressures of extreme competition. Some have also noted enhanced bilateral strength, coordination, and dexterity.
I am expected to be creative and continuously come up with new ideas. Yet, deadlines are always looming and I get frustrated and distracted. Can NeuroMatrix™ training help?
Poor attention, focus, or mood, all products of the frontal lobes, will sabotage the manifestations any new ideas. Creativity, then, from problem-that-needs-a-solution to solution-manifested-into-the-physical world, is a "whole brain" process. If any of the functions are inefficient, an idea or production will only come reluctantly, the potential of possible solutions will not be adequately recognized, or manifestation into the physical world will occur only on a hit or miss basis, if at all. NeuroMatrix™ training helps the brain meet the requirements for the six essential phases. Bio-Tutorial Neurofeedback Training™ assists the brain in "whole brain" processing by balancing left/right functioning and correcting energetic shortcomings; Heart-Link™ (Heart Rate Variability) Neurofeedback Training enhances the heart and the deep brain to communicate release stress so the creative resources of the right hemisphere are fully accessed and the left brain receives and reacts to accurate information.
- I have dyslexia. Can NeuroMatrix™ help me read better?
Sometimes these weaknesses occur because of damage from a birth trauma or an early childhood injury. But, often as not, medical tests that detect structural damage in the brain fail to reveal physical damage. The answer is found in evaluating how the brain is able to manage its energy. The QEEG (computerized brain wave analysis) allows faulty brain frequencies and energetically defective areas to be detected and defined; the Normative Reference Database report (a statistical comparison of the brain waves to those of normal people) reveals where the brain is not effectively activating, connecting, and moving working energy. NeuroMatrix™ training assists the brain in remediating dysfunctional areas, and in creating the networks it needs to efficiently move energy from one performance area to another. Learning becomes fun; life becomes exciting; self-esteem soars.
Can NeuroMatrix™ training help depression? My doctor has prescribed several different antidepressant medications, but none have helped.
When the Quantitative EEG has defined the neurological issue, NeuroMatrix™ training addresses the root of the mood problem: Bio-Tutorial Neurofeedback Training™ helps the brain unlock constricted performance circuits and reduce inappropriate Alpha waves; Heart-Link™ (Heart Rate Variability) Neurofeedback Training enhances emotional resilience by teaching the nervous system to more efficiently balance the "flight or fight versus relaxation" response. When the brain has the resources with which to do its job more efficiently, day-to-day stresses move from overwhelming to doable. Life's challenges can be met head on.
My daughter has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which has taken over her life and is disrupting the routine of our family. She is refusing to go to school, and has trouble sticking to her home schooling. Will NeuroMatrix™ training help?
Brain imaging scans show OCD behavior to be associated with an inappropriate neural loop between the caudate (a structure in the deep brain), the front of the brain just above the eyebrows (orbital frontal cortex) and the cingulate cortex (near the top of frontal lobes). The abnormal firing of the caudate triggers the urge to "do something," the front part of brain says "something is wrong," and the cingulate, that normally allows us to consciously shift our thoughts and focus from one thing to another, inappropriately keeps attention riveted on the feeling of unease. Experience has shown that when NeuroMatrix™ remediates Coherence communication problems, or helps the brain activate the frontal cortex and improve communication networks between frontal lobes and the deep brain, redundant behavior is dramatically reduced, or eliminated all together. The person is able, once again, to take charge of his or her own actions and live life to its fullest.
- I have panic attacks and haven't been able to travel for my work. Can NeuroMatrix™ possibly be of benefit?
Panic attacks often occur "out of the blue." There is a sudden feeling of being overwhelmed with fear and anxiety: Sweaty palms, a sense of dissociation, a pounding heart, and racing thoughts. Life literally comes to a standstill. NeuroMatrix™ training has shown the ability to pinpoint and remediate the root cause of panic attacks. While the QEEG pattern varies from person to person, I usually find the same Coherence issues or frontal Beta spindles as seen in those with the redundant behavior of OCD. (See Question #13.) Looking at the EEG evidence, the behavioral differences in OCD and panic attacks appear to lie in whether the basal ganglia in the deep brain sends information to a frontal cortex ill-prepared to manage the data (OCD), or the amygdala in the deep survival brain inadvertently "floods" the frontal lobes with emergency information (panic attacks). If either set of symptoms occurs, "we" (our "conscious self") lose control: our deep brain is in charge. As with OCD, when the QEEG findings are successfully remediated, the panic attacks subside, usually disappearing all together.
- I have had seizures since I was young. Is there anything that can be done to help me?
Scientific studies dating back to the late 1960s and early 1970s document Neurofeedback's ability to reduce seizures. In spite of my having worked in the field of EEG and neurology for over 40 years, I can't explain why the neurological community has generally ignored Neurofeedback and its ability to help manage seizures. Perhaps it is because Medicine is more oriented toward "drugs for a disease" than "training for regulation." But, whatever the reason, the "Say no to drugs" campaign and the sometimes-serious side effects of anticonvulsant medication (such as sedation, memory deficits, cognitive (thinking) difficulties, permanent brain dysfunction) are causing parents and those with epilepsy to look for alternatives. Neurofeedback already has a long and successful history.
My son had a serious brain injury in a motorcycle accident several months ago. He is doing better now, but still has memory problems, gets confused, and has frequent headaches. Can NeuroMatrix™ help him this long after the accident?
NeuroMatrix™ training is the perfect compliment to Physical, Rehabilitative, and Occupational Therapy. The Quantitative EEG and Normative Reference Database reveal where and in what way the brain is damaged; Bio-Tutorial Neurofeedback Training provides information the brain needs to activate idling neurons and create new communication links. For those physically able to practice special breathing techniques, Heart-Link™ (Heart Rate Variability) Neurofeedback Training helps the brain modulate the deep emotional centers. Because information is being returned to the brain on how it is performing a complex task in this moment, brain function, even in those whose accident occurred decades earlier, is always enhanced with NeuroMatrix™ training.
- My father had a stroke and has difficulty speaking. Will NeuroMatrix™ training help him talk again?
The devastating effects of a stroke results from trauma to the brain from inside the skull instead of the outside: A blood vessel swells and bursts - pressure inside the skull causes serious damage to the soft brain tissue. To add insult to injury, the escaped blood, being very toxic to brain cells, produces even more damage and destruction. While it is true that billions of nerve cells may die as a result of a stroke, it is also true that, given the right instruction, neurons in adjacent brain areas can be recruited to help restore lost functions. NeuroMatrix™ training assists the brain in activating idling, inactive, and damaged neurons, and in teaching brain cells in adjoining areas to do unfamiliar tasks. NeuroMatrix™ training greatly enhances and accelerates the therapeutic benefits of traditional Physical, Rehabilitative, Occupational, and Speech Therapy. The greatest possibility of recovering speech and other major brain functions is assured.
- I live in Brisbane, Australia. Is there a Neurofeedback Therapist located in my area?
NeuroMatrix Neurofeedback Training as described on our website.
- My son is currently taking Strattera for ADHD, would it be safe to use NeuroMatrix along with the medication?
Yes, I routinely train those taking either stimulant medication for ADD/ADHD, or antidepressants for depression, while still on the medication. The objective of NeuroMatrix Neurofeedback training is to remediate brain dysfunction and to optimize the brain's ability to function efficiently. When this is accomplished, the symptoms requiring the need for medication are typically elimininated, thus the drugs can be discontinued. Many start to taper off such medications toward the end of training, and most are off totally within a few weeks.
Are there chances of recovery in a post stroke patient of 8 months if the clot dissolves completely ang can he regain his vision lost due to stroke?
The Quantitative EEG reveals the extent and nature of the damage from the stroke. Specific NeuroMatrix Neurofeedback training protocols then teach the brain to remobilize its ability to heal itself, and to repair and again produce the frequencies and circuits it needs to do its job more efficiently. While it is not known how much function can be regained in any particular individual without an evaluation and a few sessions to see how well the brain is able to repair and restore itself, NeuroMatrix Neurofeedback training offers the greatest possibility of regaining vision and regaining motion.
Is there any research that shows that a side effect of dementia is dizziness? Could this dizziness be a result of vascular disease? Thank you for your time.
Dizziness can be caused from many physical, and even psychological, causes. These can range from ear problems to drug reactions. It is best to start with an internist or general practitioner. A neurologist would also be a possible resource to find the problem.
- What causes dementia?
Dementia is a term applied to any general mental deterioration. This can be due to organic (physical) or psychological factors. It can be caused, for example, by trauma, metabolic problems, and mental illness. A medical doctor should always be consulted at first signs of confusion and disorientation. If the dementia is related to brain dysfunction (often determined by a neurologist), NeuroMatrix Neurofeedback can benefit in the early stages. However, maintenance sessions will likely be required to extend the benefit and time will likely take its toll. Please correspond directly with me at email@example.com or 972.407.9895 to discuss such cases.
My brother has OCD and has recently contemplated suicide. He was taken to hospital and wanted to stay in over night but they wouldn't have him. What else can we do to help him?
Psychiatric drugs given for OCD can themselves increase suicidal thoughts. If he is on antidepressants, I would recommend discussing this with his medical doctor. NeuroMatrix Neurofeedback training has shown its ability to remediate the repetitive symptoms of OCD as well as elevate mood, sharpen focus, and improve memory. Suicide becomes the last thing on his or her mind.
- Does Effexor cause side effects? If so, what are those?
Effexor, as well as other psychiatric drug that overstimulate the serotonin system such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Luvox, often produce personality changes such as irritability, aggressiveness, mood instability, and varying degrees of euphoria. Someone can "feel better than ever" but family members may see a "different person" with new and negative personality traits. Families may, for example, see him or her being less attentive, caring or loving. Sexual dysfunctions are common. In studies of Effexor, suicides and suicide attempts were several times more frequent than those not taking Effexor. Importantly, Effexor is a very difficult drug to stop for many people (due to rebound effects). While we frequently help people get off psychiatric drugs with NeuroMatrix Neurofeedback training, Effexor can be a challenge even for us. More than the usual number of remedial sessions may be required.
An MRI showed a small white stroke in my brain.dr. called it _ _ pine,or something similar. what can you tell me about this type of stroke?
I am not able to reply in confidence without more specific information. That said, Neuromatrix Neurofeedback training is the only process that I know of that helps the brain directly remediate the damage of stroke and to restore as much brain function as possible.
Is it possible to get off of Effexor at all? I am worried that my 16 year old son, who is on 112.5 mg of Effexor won't be able to do this after reading the horror stories.
Effexor is an especially difficult drug to get off of. Our results have been mixed. Most get off Effexor as symptoms clear with the NeuroMatrix training. One person had difficulty even after the training, but, not having talked to her for awhile, I'm not sure if she is still on it. While I would doubt it (based on my experiences with others), I can't say for sure. I also had another person switch to Lexipro to help her get off. So, it is probable that a person will be off Effexor as a result of NeuroMatrix training, but not "guaranteed."
I have a Son who suffered severe brain injury 7 years ago, he is still having difficulties with his behaviour, speech and physical difficulties, he also has short term memory loss and a visual dificit. He is taking medication for his behaviour problems which consist of frustration and anger of his losses, he also lacks insight of himself.
NeuroMatrix Neurofeedback, in my experience, offers the greatest possibility of remediating these symptoms. The Quantitative EEG (computerized brain wave analysis) detects and defines where the brain is damaged and the specific nature of dysfunction. While there are more specific details on my web site (www.thesamscenter.com), Coherence issues are especially common. This is caused by axonal shearing and bruising from the cortex sliding over the grey matter (the "bulk" of the brain). When this occurs, brain communication networks are disturbed and broken and the symptoms you describe occur. Once remediated, behavior, speech, and short term memory difficulties tend to improve, especially when done with physical, speech, and occupational therapy. The only flag I have is the visual deficit. I'm not sure about that until I hear more about it, or the QEEG shows me what is probably creating the issue. When life gets easier from the brain being able to do its job in a more efficient way, I would expect the mood and behavior to stabilize. I should also note that the drugs themselves can cause such behavioral issues. The NeuroMatrix objective is to enhance brain function and performance to the point that the drugs are no longer necessary.