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The LENS Approach: What it is; How it Works; its Limits
by Len Ochs
The Low Energy Neurofeedback System (LENS) is first and foremost a neurofeedback system. The formula for feedback signal is to add to the dominant frequency picked up from the EEG of the person connected to it, the feedback offset – that frequency in Hertz – that offsets the feedback frequency from the dominant frequency. So, Feedback frequency = dominant frequency + offset frequency. Running the formula in the computer or in the computerized EEG is the major technological difference between this and other more traditional EEG biofeedback systems, although this difference occurs in the context of many other differences.
While feedback signals in traditional equipment enter through the eyes and/or ears of the client, in the LENS they travel to the head, down the same wires that carry the EEG signals to the EEG amplifier and computer. So the wires between the EEG and head are bi-directional: they carry the EEG signals to the EEG, and the feedback signals to the head. Once at the head, because of the high frequency range and low signal intensity (trillionth of a trillionth of a watt, with no measurable voltage or current), and because electronic signals of this nature tend to scatter, it is implausible that they penetrate into the brain from the scalp. Almost no client has ever reported awareness of any kind of stimulation during an appointment. What we do know is that when no formula is run, there are no changes in the EEG or behavior that can be attributable to the presence of the EEG or sessions. We have done double-blinded pilot studies on whether running any formula will produce beneficial results to find that only a formula with the correct elements will produce a beneficial result.
The use of this system is not, and cannot be directed selectively to any particular diagnosis. The LENS does not generate treatment plans that are differentiated one diagnosis from another within the medical domain; nor does it differentiated between medical and non-medical problems. It cannot be used in diagnosis of medical conditions as the EEG is an unreliable measure of many such problems. It does not provide data to differentiate normal from abnormal.
This system does have major effects on improving clarity, increasing ease, increasing differentiation responses and perceptions, decreasing hyperreactivity, and increasing flexibility of functioning in the following domains: cognitive, mood, energy, and motor activity. While people with diagnoses may have impairments in these areas, the LENS is directed to improvement in these functions, and not to remediating medical conditions themselves. No medical claims are made. Clients are not infrequently referred from medical personnel, and referred back to health care practitioners when medical evaluation and treatment are the treatment of choice, and, as with over-the-counter medication treatment, when the symptoms persist.
The closest the LENS approach comes to a medical approach is the relation of over-the-counter (OTC) medications to prescription medication. OTC medication is vastly weaker and primarily regulated by the FDA in its labeling and availability, with medical over-ride in any particular case. In our case, the strength of our system is virtually nothing in contrast to its closest cousin, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. And yet a physician trained in the much stronger stimulation of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation would be unqualified to operate our system without specific training because of the multiple paradigmatic differences. Our primary considerations in regulating how long exposures to the feedback are, are (1) the dispersion of EEG amplitudes, (2) personal sensitivity and reactivity, (3) vitality, and (4) suppression of problematic and/or embarrassing behaviors earlier in life. These variables make the difference between whether we use 1/100th of a second of feedback, or 30 1/100th of a second of feedback at any appointment. So the conditions that guide our approach are very different from that practiced in medicine.
Nearly all individuals seek help for functioning problems after having been treated numerous times by many physicians across the country, overseas, and at some of the most prestigious medical and psychiatric facilities. They have become exhausted in their hopes, energy, and finances by the medical system. The medical system, has, in fact shown itself to be less than competent in the treatment of the problems we address. If the problems we treat were in the medical domain, we would never see them as we are a tertiary treatment approach. Our approach is never a substitute for appropriate medical treatment. Nor is medical evaluation and treatment a legitimate substitute for our approach when it is appropriate.