(developed by Len Ochs, Ph.D.)
The LENS is a brainwave biofeedback therapy that helps optimise human functioning in the areas of mood, cognition, and energy levels. It has consistently shown shorter clinical treatment times to ameliorate a variety of conditions characterised by Central Nervous System dysfunction. Rather than teaching voluntary skills to people, it works subliminally to optimise the capacities of the person to function effectively, learn new skills and to utilise skills already learned.
The LENS offers a behavioural, non-pharmacological, non-surgical and non-psychotherapeutic way to produce relatively rapid resolution of difficult cognitive, mood, anxiety, mental clarity, energy and physical movement problems when compared with more traditional forms of therapy. Treatment effects seem to persist long after treatment has been discontinued (unless new trauma occurs). This information is based on observations over the past 15 years by physicians, therapists and other scientists, with over 100,000 patients in the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan. Controlled studies have confirmed the clinical results. Different people will need different intensities of treatment stimulation and require different lengths and frequencies of treatment to achieve optimal functioning.
What is the LENS?
- The LENS is a new form of brainwave biofeedback or Neurofeedback Therapy. Like traditional Neurofeedback Therapy, the person’s brainwaves are measured and translated into a stimulus that is fed back to the person's brain. The stimulation pulsates at a slightly higher frequency than the strongest brainwave being generated at any given moment. The brainwaves influence the stimulation, and the stimulation, in turn, influences the brainwaves
- Unlike traditional Neurofeedback Therapy, LENS is a passive process and the person does not have to try to understand the feedback, or learn how to regulate his or her own brainwaves. Without the need to take time to learn how to control one’s own brainwaves, the process of change begins immediately; changes seem to come much more rapidly than in conventional neurofeedback and are often more noticeable to patients and their families.
- LENS appears to shorten the treatment times required for the improvement of some serious cognitive, mood, energy, and motor control impairments.
- The system consists of a brainwave-measuring device or EEG, software designed to analyse the brainwave signals and convert them into stimulation and a laptop computer to display the patient’s brainwaves both during and after the session. The patient relaxes comfortably in a chair, eyes closed, engaged in no specific task. No needles, shocks, skin penetration or other invasive procedures are used. The sensor wires simply rest on the head and are held in place with a waxy paste. They are connected to the EEG, which is then connected to the computer for analysis. The process is well tolerated and generally thought to be very comfortable and relaxing.
- The treatment itself is in the form of invisible radio frequency waves (in the 15 – 100 MHz band) and at an intensity several thousand times weaker than an ordinary mobile phone or cordless handset. Usually 10-18 watts/sq cm in stimulation condition and 10-21 (a thousand times weaker) in the no stimulation condition used for brain maps, offset and treatment of the most sensitive patients.
How is the LENS believed to work?
- It has frequently been observed that dysfunctional thinking, moods, and energy levels are correlated with high amplitudes of slowed brainwave activity. The LENS appears to positively impact this situation by changing and/or reducing this slow brainwave activity. As reductions in slow brainwave activity are seen, a person’s condition generally begins to improve.
- We believe that the LENS also works to break up the rigid, self-protective way the brain has of responding after physical or psychological trauma. There is evidence that during any kind of trauma (physical, infectious, toxic, or emotional), the brain protects itself from seizures and overloads by releasing neurochemicals that protect it from these dangers. Unfortunately, this protective response also reduces the brain’s overall functional capacity, not unlike the swelling of a joint, following a physical injury. Long after the trauma is over and the danger is past, the “protection" may still remain. The person can, therefore, become stuck in various kinds of dysfunctions due to this reduced neurological flexibility. The LENS appears to have an effect in helping to restore the brain’s natural flexibility.
The results of this can be a significant reduction and/or elimination of some or all of the person’s symptoms.
How might the LENS treatment proceed?
- Session 1: Initial Consultation - 2 hours
- This session is used to conduct a clinical interview to gather information about the patient, and complete a medical and mental state examination. The patient will fill in two assessment forms related to LENS and the treatment program explained. If the person decides to continue with the treatment they will be asked to sign an Informed Consent form.
- Session 2: No-Stimulation 19 site Brain Map and Offst Evaluation Procedure - 1.0 hour.
- This session involves performing a topographic brain mapping procedure, which is used for the purpose of determining which areas of the brain are relatively functional or dysfunctional. Brainwave activity from each of 19 sites on the scalp is recorded by moving an active sensor from site to site and measuring the amplitude and frequency. This information is then processed by a laptop computer to provide a “map” or chart of the person’s individual brainwave patterns at each of these 19 sites. This helps us to determine the nature and extent of any brainwave irregularities that may be present, as well as give the therapist an outline for how to proceed with the LENS treatment. The equipment does not emit any electricity to the brain. It only reads the tiny electrical signals coming from the brain through the scalp. The Offset procedure determines the most effective stimulation dosage for treatment. The Offset establishes a baseline of one’s brainwave amplitudes prior to any treatment and then measures the response to varying degrees of stimulation. In this session, we are seeking to determine how both the person’s brain and his/her symptoms respond to the particular type of stimulation provided by Neurofeedback. The Offset is an exploratory procedure in which the computer is used to record a person’s brainwave activity at one site. After six minutes of monitoring the raw EEG to establish the baseline, four invisible and gentle radio-wave stimulations are given. Each pulse is separated by a minute of observation and recording of the changes in the brainwaves brought about by the stimulation. The 10 minutes of Offset data are recorded and translated into graph form. This information helps us to evaluate a variety of settings, which can help make treatment more efficient, and potentially reduce the time and expense of treatment. This information is crucial in establishing the format of future treatment sessions and the optimal stimulation dosage for the person’s particular circumstances. Upon completion of the Clinical Interview, Brain Mapping and Offset Procedure, the evaluation is finished. At this time, using an understanding of the person’s history, observations of the brain’s reaction to treatment andcareful reports of subjective and symptomatic responses, it will be possible to project an estimated treatment length for one’s condition.
- Sessions 3 and upwards: LENS Treatment Sessions - 1 hour each. Each session consists of a 19 site Low-Stimulation Brain Map followed by LENS treatment where up to a maximum of 7 brain sites based upon the suppression maps generated from the Low-Stimulation Brain Map, are treated.
- Session 3 and subsequent sessions involves the next phase of treatment consisting of a series of individualised sessions lasting up to an hour. First a No-Stimulation Brain Map is obtained and from this brain map, suppression maps are generated. Using the most appropriate suppression map, up to 7 brain sites are then treated using the most effective stimulation dosage obtained from the Offset procedure. The session format and dosage may change as the course of treatment progresses as a result of the reactions the person may experience during and immediately following the session, as well as in the time period leading to the next session. Visits are usually scheduled on a weekly basis. Prior to each treatment session, we will inquire about reactions since the previous session over the short-term (12-24 hours after the session) and the long-term (the remainder of the time up to the day and time of the current session). The reports of the person’s reactions to the treatment are critical to our ability to determine the optimal treatment parameters for each session, so we strongly encourage the person to be accurate and thorough in self-observations during the time between sessions. We are especially interested in knowing about any changes that occur in the frequency, intensity and duration of any usual symptom patterns, for better or worse, so that we are able to determine the efficacy of the LENS and make any necessary adjustments. In keeping track of a person’s reactions, we suggest that they familiarise themselves with the three major domains, or areas, into which most of the symptoms of Central Nervous System dysfunction fall.
- Since the LENS is a non-psychotherapeutic procedure, patients being treated for some mental health disorders such as Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) etc. may need adjunctive psychotherapeutic treatment and support at a level appropriate with the nature and seriousness of their problems. This is provided at The Centre for Integrated Mind Care and is not part of the LENS treatment.
How many LENS sessions are required to achieve results?
- The following is a general guideline:
- If the problem is of recent duration after a life of high functioning, and the person is not overly-sensitive to Neurofeedback, we estimate up to 12 sessions.
- If the problem is of recent duration after a life of high functioning, and if the person is highly-sensitive to Neurofeedback, we can expect up 24 sessions.
- If the person has a lifelong history of multiple problems and is very sensitive to the feedback, we estimate up to 36 or more sessions.
- Treatment effects, once achieved and stabilised have been observed to persist long after treatment has been discontinued unless some kind of new trauma occurs. Treatment results have been held for clients who finished treatment years ago. There have also been cases in which a patient would experience only modest results during the course of treatment, but later reported noticing significant improvements in their functioning; sometimes many months after treatment had been terminated.
Dimensions of functioning which respond positively to the LENS treatment:
The “3 F’s”:
Problems of Force - Energy/stamina (fatigue), sleep, initiative, motivation, perseverance, movement/coordination
Problems of Focus - Attention/concentration, distractibility, cognition, mental clarity, information absorbency/comprehension, memory, sequencing, prioritising, decision-making
Problems of Feeling - Mood (depression, anxiety), self-concept, panic, hypervigilance, obsessiveness, irritability, rage, explosiveness
Benefits of LENS can include:
- Increased clarity (decreased mental “fog”)
- Decreased feelings of irritability
- Decreased feelings of anger
- Decreased feelings of fatigue
- Decreased feelings of anxiety
- Decreased feelings of depression
- Improved sleep at night
- More energy during the day
- Improved concentration and attention
- Improved memory
- Improved vision and speech (due to cortical problems)
- Increased sense of ease due to the absence of the need to control intense feelings
The LENS has shown clinically positive results in cases of:
- Addictions e.g. alcohol, drugs etc.
- Anosmia (loss of smell)
- Attention deficit disorders with and without hyperactivity
- Anxiety disorders
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Excessive anger and explosiveness
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Seizure disorders
- Self-harming behaviours
- Social Phobia
- Tic disorders e.g. Tourette's Syndrome
- Traumatic brain or spinal cord injury symptoms from mild to severe
The above-mentioned problems exist concurrently with EEG slowing, which consists of high amplitude, high variability, low frequency brainwave activity. Reductions of excessive slow brainwaves will often be noted within the first few minutes of the first session. Generally speaking, regardless of the diagnosis, if a condition is accompanied by brainwave imbalances, LENS can potentially be helpful in alleviating its symptoms.
Clinical improvements may be noted within 3 to 5 sessions in simple cases but in more complex cases many courses of treatment may be required before improvements begin to become noticeable.
It has also been observed that the need for many medications often decreases and under the care of your physician, can sometimes even be eliminated. As the person’s neurological efficiency improves, medications remain in the body unused. People may experience side effects from them because the body is making less use of them, and they may no longer need the same level of medication. People in LENS treatment on the following medications are encouraged to ask their physician to moderate dosages when appropriate. The following medications may show interactions with Neurofeedback treatments:
- Medicine for sugar problems (diabetes)
- Medicine for thyroid problems
- Medicine for migraines and other head aches
- Medicine for seizure problems (anticonvulsants)
- Medicine for emotional, thinking, or perceptual problems
- Medicine for movement problems and spasticity
- Medicine for hypertension
- Medicines for anxiety and mood disorders
What are the potential risks or side effects of LENS Therapy?
No person has reported that the LENS has harmed them or produced any new symptom. However, any symptom could be temporarily exacerbated. Such responses are generally transient, lasting up to 24-48 hours, at most.
- Brief Reactions
- On rare occasion, patients may experience minor discomfort. A person may temporarily feel uncomfortable, irritable, tense, anxious, or fatigued. This rarely happens for more than a second at a time. If this happens, we adjust the settings on the equipment to the extent that the person is once more comfortable. The primary signs indicating a need for adjustment are feeling overly “tired” (fatigued) or “wired” (irritable/anxious), usually occurring during or shortly after the session, or seeing no change in one’s condition during the week subsequent to the session.
- Longer Lasting Reactions
- Very rarely these symptoms may persist for several days during the initial phase of treatment. Others have reported feeling as if they have tremendous energy to do things, or feel very tired. These longer-lasting reactions have especially tended to occur with particular feelings that people have been struggling to control for a long time. While these feelings can be intrusive and bothersome, it has been the experience of previous persons that they are still able to function adequately.
- It has also been observed that the need for medications often decreases. As the person’s neurological functioning improves, medications remain in the body unused. People often start having side effects from them because of the decreasing tendency of the body to rely on them, and they may no longer need the same level of medication. People being treated with LENS who are also taking prescription medications are instructed to stay in close contact with their physician to monitor their reactions and possibly adjust dosages.
- Between Sessions
- While many people feel energy, calmness, clarity, and happiness after a LENS session, in some cases these positive feelings may be preceded by “overstimulation” symptoms of fatigue, depression, and anxiety between sessions. Those persons “rebounding” from good feelings often feel discouraged and doubtful about their ability to finish treatment. The rebound appears to be the brain’s way of struggling to remain in the old, familiar, and dysfunctional state. Overstimulation may be a good sign clinically, because it shows a physiological response to treatment. As people continue with LENS, both the intensity of the good feelings and the unpleasant rebound periods tend to become shorter and less intense until the exaggerated feelings no longer occur. To date there have been no exceptions to this pattern. Instead, people become clearer about the entire range of feelings they have, instead of becoming numb and flat in their emotional responses.
- After each LENS treatment, a person may decide to continue or discontinue treatment. If the decision is to continue, we will conduct a brain remapping, which will allow us to view graphically the progress made in terms of changes in one’s brainwave patterns and movement toward greater balance and flexibility. It will also allow us to determine the most effective treatment protocol, with symptom improvement being the most important determinant.
Research articles and useful information on the use of Neurofeedback Therapy to treat a range of conditions can be found at:-
: The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback - www.aapb.com
: The International Society for Neurofeedback and Research - www.isnr.org
: AboutNeurofeedback - www.AboutNeurofeedback.com
The LENS is a type of EEG biofeedback or Neurofeedback Therapy that has shown promising clinical and experimental results over the 15 years of its evolution. It is gentle, non-invasive and does not put any alien substance or energy into the body. It functions best as a collaborative process between the patient and the therapist. At its best it is essentially a gentle method of healing and growth.