Within the terrain of neurofeedback, which is the delivery of near instantaneous feedback to the brain allowing the brain to change itself, we have EEG neurofeedback and Hemoencephalography or HEG neurofeedback. Within the types of HEG neurofeedback we find pIR HEG, or passive infra-red neurofeedback. PIR HEG was developed by Dr Jeffrey Carmen in 1998, primarily as a way to remediate severe and intractable headaches.
HEG offers us a mechanism to control the temperature, and so control the blood flow and metabolism, of the prefrontal area of the brain. This is the area responsible for what is known as executive functioning capacities such as memory, self-control and attention. By placing a headband with a measurement mechanism over the forehead, and measuring temperature deep in the brain via the infra-red sensors, we give feedback to the brain allowing it to increase temperature and blood flow in this important area. With pIR HEG we accomplish this task by watching an entertaining DVD that stops and starts as the temperature of the forehead rises and falls. In learning to keep the movie in play we increase our capacity to engage our pre-frontal area.
With increased blood flow and temperature pre-frontally, and an increase in our brain’s capacity to perform the tasks of executive functioning, we also increase the connection between our pre-frontal area, and the powerful limbic system in our brain where emotions are generated and experienced. In the functional increase of this connection we become more able to make sense of our emotions and to make thoughtful responses to what our emotions tell us is important. In this way pIR HEG can aid in the important task of emotion regulation.
As the capacity for our thinking mind and our feeling mind comes together we become more integrated and at ease within ourselves, and in our interactions with those around us. This increase in integration between our thinking and feeling capacities has implications beyond simple symptom relief. The growing integration we experience supports us in our journey of human development over the life span and accessing an increased quality of life.