Author: Susan Shor Fehmi, M.S.W.
In recent years the subject of coherence and synchrony has come to the
forefront in neurofeedback circles, leaving people confused about the
difference between the two and wondering whether it is good or bad to have
coherent or synchronous brain waves. As many of you know, Les Fehmi has
been talking about the value of on-off phase synchrony training coupled with
Open Focus training for almost thirty years. This is a training protocol
that makes up a sizeable portion of our Princeton Biofeedback Centre
Coherence applies to brain waves that maintain a consistent relationship
with each other. Phase synchrony applies to a particular kind of
coherence, one in which brain waves of a specific frequency peak and trough
at the same time. When they peak and trough perfectly in time they are said
to be phase synchronous. Brain synchrony can be trained locally at one site,
or globally over the whole head.
In his work, Les Fehmi has specialized in training people to produce whole
head phase synchronous alpha, and alternately whole head phase asynchronous
alpha, using a special instrument of his design that signals phase synchrony
in the way described above. Along with Open Focus training, an attention
technique that also encourages the brain to move toward whole head phase
synchrony, neurofeedback synchrony training has proven to be valuable as a
neurological normalizing tool.
Synchrony training helps the brain to return to a non-biased and flexible
state, relaxed and yet ready to move in any direction as may be required.
In this zero bias state, people report feelings of oneness and intimacy, a
reduction of stress symptoms and an increase in peak performance skills.
The value of off training, or asynchrony training, is to promote brain wave
flexibility. By alternately training whole head synchrony and asynchrony, t
he brain learns to shift easily into both synchrony and asynchrony,
avoiding any rigidity.
One of the more interesting applications of synchrony training is with
couples to foster connectedness. The couple may be a pair of any kind, a
parent and child, two friends, business partners, two siblings, employer and
employee, teacher and student, romantic partners or any other combination in
which connectedness is desired. The protocol employs the use of linked
neurofeedback that requires both partners to produce whole head phase
synchronous brain waves in phase and in phase with each other in order to
get feedback. Neither partner will get feedback if they are out of
synchrony with the other. The resultant experience can be a sense of
harmony and unity between people, dubbed “the honeymoon response” by one of
Until now, individual and couples synchrony training required the use of a
stand-alone, multi-channel, phase sensitive EEG of Fehmi’s design.
Recently, Fehmi designed a less expensive Synchrony Converter that will turn
any neurofeedback instrument into a five channel, phase sensitive, EEG which
can train synchrony all over the head in the way that the more expensive
stand-alone synchrony trainer does. With two Converters, any existing dual
channel EEG units can be turned in to a couples synchrony trainer as well.
It was Fehmi’s desire to help people to turn whatever equipment they already
own into one that does synchrony training, and to do this at a relatively
low cost. Workshops which emphasize hands on training and personal
experience are offered regularly. (See www.openfocus.com.)
As the neurofeedback community becomes more sophisticated, we understand the
value of many different kinds of brain wave training. There is a place for
whole head phase synchrony training at one end of the continuum, as well as
a place, at the other end of the continuum, for single site asynchrony
training, as in the ADD protocols. We use them all, for they all yield
specifically different treatment outcomes.