Neurofeedback brain training for the performing artist

One of the biggest benefits I have seen from neurofeedback brain training for the performing artist, be it musician/singer, dancer or actor, is enhancement of cognitive and physical resilience, reduction of anxiety and ability to more in the moment, more present.  I have had clients who are on the road many weeks and months during the year and this can be very difficult, even for someone who loves the lifestyle.  The travel alone is tedious, not to mention food and sleep issues, lack of daily routine and loss of social life- to name only a few.

Stress is a biological effect that is produced when having to push past our capacity.  Hans Selye, endocrinologist, coined the term ‘stress’.  It refers to a biological response which he defined as “the response of the body to any demand for change”. Each person has natural limits in their ability to adapt to life changes based on constitution, genetics, past and present health, diet, environmental conditions, mental and emotional set, and much more.

We all must constantly find and refine effective strategies to improve our resilience in the face of stress (read more here on the current understanding of resilience) especially in our fast paced, technological world.  Below is Selye’s graph of biological response to alarm.  When we go into fight of flight, be it mild, medium or severe, our organism must respond energetically to resist the condition.  We can resist only for so long and if the alarm (fight, flight, freeze) continues, we will find ourselves in a default state of exhaustion.  Few of us do well when we are constantly having to adapt and adjust to ongoing, non stop change.  There is a consequence for most of us and it has degenerative effect on our energy and health.

The neurofeeedback field has a good reputation for being able to improve overall resilience by  improving brain function which is Central Nervous System function. It has been used for more than 50 years by those in the performing arts, sports, academia, business, families, etc.  Our  nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, sensory organs, and all of the nerves that connect these organs with the rest of the body. Together, this system is responsible for the control of the body and communication among its systems.  Neurofeedback can have a direct positive effect on how well the brain functions, improving efficiency and effectiveness.

The type of neurofeedback that I have used for the past 11 years with clients takes this another step further. We are able to help the brain recognize and respond to its own generation of perturbation (root is perturb) or responding to events that are unresolved and in the past.  Our brains have evolved to learn through direct experience when they have accurate information.  With this approach that I use with those in the performing arts, we can help the brain return to its own inherent and original resilience and flexibility, the key to being able to handle change, improve spontaneity, creativity, and an overall state of calm through evoking the Relaxation Response, which reverses the flight or flight response. We do better when we are on a state of calm.

Those with tight performing schedules, those who are on the road, or those with long days on the set or on location will find that regular neurofeedback brain training has a definitive impact on their health, well being, and effectiveness and satisfaction in their work, all based on what clients tell us about their own experience. Your focus is clear, anxiety minimized. And with our approach, anyone can own the equipment and hook themselves up and run sessions wherever they are, and get as good or better results than if you were to spend the time and money to go see a professional because we are the state-of-the-art approach in the field, completely non-invasive and auto-navigation which means the computer can responds better to what is happening moment to moment in your brain than an individual.

Below is an abstract on neurofeedback optimizing performance.

EEG-neurofeedback for optimising performance. II: creativity, the performing arts and ecological validity.

As a continuation of a review of evidence of the validity of cognitive/affective gains following neurofeedback in healthy participants, including correlations in support of the gains being mediated by feedback learning (Gruzelier, 2014a), the focus here is on the impact on creativity, especially in the performing arts including music, dance and acting. The majority of research involves alpha/theta (A/T), sensory-motor rhythm (SMR) and heart rate variability (HRV) protocols. There is evidence of reliable benefits from A/T training with advanced musicians especially for creative performance, and reliable benefits from both A/T and SMR training for novice music performance in adults and in a school study with children with impact on creativity, communication/presentation and technique. Making the SMR ratio training context ecologically relevant for actors enhanced creativity in stage performance, with added benefits from the more immersive training context. A/T and HRV training have benefitted dancers. The neurofeedback evidence adds to the rapidly accumulating validation of neurofeedback, while performing arts studies offer an opportunity for ecological validity in creativity research for both creative process and product.