Left and Right Prefrontal EEG Training

by Sue Othmer | June 7th, 2006

For the last several years we have focused on interhemispheric EEG training including prefrontal Fp1-Fp2. Interhemispheric training influenced the activation of both left and right prefrontal areas and the coordination of activity between them. More recently we have moved back to left and right-side training separately in some cases. This brings us back to the issue of which functions we might impact with left-side versus right-side training.

Before interhemispheric training, we learned to carefully avoid right prefrontal training. At that time we were rewarding basic Beta and SMR frequencies, and we had found that T4-Fp2 training at those frequencies could precipitate emotional meltdowns or explosions. We now understand that right prefrontal training has a very strong impact and needs a reward frequency carefully tailored to the individual. At the time we settled on left prefrontal training (T3-Fp1 or T4-Fp1) to impact problems with attention and impulse control.

With interhemispheric training we are able to work at Fp1-Fp2 without problems if we carefully adjust the reward frequency for each individual and then lower the reward by 2 Hz when moving forward from T3-T4 to Fp1-Fp2. Interhemispheric prefrontal training has proven specifically helpful for attention, planning and organization, impulse control, obsessive or racing thoughts, compulsive behaviors and tics. We found, however, that there were a number of people for whom we could not get low enough with the reward frequency to get a sufficiently calming effect. This was especially a problem when we needed to shift down 2 Hz as we moved forward to Fp1-Fp2 or 4 Hz as we moved back to P3-P4. We ran out of frequency range at 0 Hz. With left and right side training we no longer need to go down with the reward frequency as we move front or back. All left-side bipolar sites train with the same reward frequency, which is approximately 2 Hz higher than at right-side training sites. So we effectively extended our range for more calming effects prefrontally and parietally.

We then faced the question of which symptoms we might impact with left versus right prefrontal training. We quickly found that left prefrontal (T3-Fp1) was specifically helpful with both ADD and OCD symptoms as well as tics. It makes sense that left side training impacts conscious and cognitive executive functions. Right prefrontal function, on the other hand, exerts control over basic emotional regulation. Right prefrontal training specifically impacts fear, emotional reactivity, rage, attachment and social judgment.

Right prefrontal training has a very strong effect and requires careful adjustment of the reward frequency. We typically start right side training at T4-P4, where we expect to specifically impact muscle tension and body awareness. This is generally easier for people to observe and report as we find the optimum reward. We can then move to T4-Fp2 with the same reward frequency. Left prefrontal training is a more commonly used placement for us and is generally useful for most people. There is usually some desire to improve attention and impulse control and reduce obsessive and compulsive tendencies. Right prefrontal is very powerful and effective, but is used less often in our practice.

Training left and right sides separately also allows a more specific effect, which can be helpful with challenging cases. We are getting more impact with T3-Fp1 particularly for OCD and tics where a stronger effect is often needed. This is also helpful with very hyper ADHD kids who usually need to train very low. We are getting stronger effects now training very low at T3-Fp1 for attention and impulse control and T4-P4 for hyperactivity.

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