Neuroscience of brainwaves to improve outcomes for children in-care.
First application of Advanced Brain Mapping outside Americas.
31 January 2019 – Egham, Surrey:
Surrey County Council’s Virtual School has launched a pilot programme to ‘brain map’ looked after young people who have suffered trauma and abuse. The brain maps analyse the electrical activity in the brain, known as EEG (electroencephalogram) or brain waves, and identify ‘neuromarkers’, The neuromarkers include developmental trauma/PTSD, attachment issues, issues with authority, anxiety, and the risk of psychosis.
The brain maps give the young people hard evidence of how their brain works, what their strengths are and how their brains have been impacted by what has happened to them. This is the first time this Advanced Brain Mapping has been available outside North and South America.
Examples of Neuromarker patterns:
Young people with high incidences of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) have significantly increased risk of many high-risk behaviours and health issues. An ACE score of 4 is associated with a 7x risk of alcoholism, a 2x risk of cancer, an ACE score of 6 with 30x risk of suicide attempt1. Less than 1% of the population are brought up in care. 50% of children or young people in custody have been in care2.
The young people in Surrey taking part in the pilot will also receive 20 sessions of neurofeedback therapy. Neurofeedback therapy works by giving the brain feedback on its own control system, enabling improved brain regulation and function.
Neurofeedback therapy for trauma has a strong evidence base. A study published in 2016 concluded that neurofeedback therapy produced significant symptom improvement in individuals with chronic PTSD3.
Dr Bessel van der Kolk, founder of the Trauma Center in Boston, MA, says “In our neurofeedback lab we see individuals with long histories of traumatic stress who have only partially responded to existing treatments. Their qEEGs (Brain Maps) show a variety of different patterns. Often there is excessive activity in the fear center of the brain. This means that their hyperaroused emotional brains dominate their mental life. Our research showed that calming the fear center decreases trauma-based problems and improves executive functioning. This is reflected not only in a significant decrease in patients’ PTSD scores but also improved mental clarity and an increased ability to regulate how upset they became in response to relatively minor provocations.”5
Sairah Shah, Surrey County Council’s Virtual School Assistant Headteacher says “’The Brain Maps are like an X-ray that shows you the effect of trauma on the brain. Neurofeedback gives us an opportunity to stabilise and normalise the symptoms these young people suffer, and improve their outcomes in school and in the world. Other interventions and support are not really having direct and meaningful impact. The pilot with BrainTrainUK seems to be the only cutting-edge opportunity I have seen to give the children and young people a chance to understand their own brain and functioning, and be able to “own” this themselves as they progress through to independence”.
Stuart Black, Managing Director of BrainTrainUK says “Neurofeedback offers a means of recovery from Adverse Childhood Events so these young people have the same chances as others to live long and fulfilling lives. Other interventions often struggle to get traction, because young people are unable to talk about their trauma or are not conscious of it. Neurofeedback can reach the parts other therapies can’t. Advanced Brain Mapping empowers young people to see how their life experiences have impacted their brain’s development. We can show them before and after brain maps for other young people and show them that their past need not define their future. Surrey’s initiative makes this therapy available to young people whilst they are still young people, to improve their life chances. We are pleased to be part of this groundbreaking initiative.”
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Notes to Editors:
Enquiries: 0207 118 0887
Images ©BrainTrainUK 2019, may be used in association with this Press Release.
BrainTrainUK, established in 2013, brings the latest neurofeedback technology to the UK and beyond. Practices are established in London’s Harley Street, Battersea, Liverpool Street, Surrey, Hants, Bucks, Sussex, Yorkshire and Hertfordshire, and Utah, USA (BrainTrainUT). Our vision is to expand our services and develop a new platform to enable access to this technology for everyone who can benefit.
About Surrey County Council Virtual School
Surrey Virtual School is responsible for raising the educational standards of Surrey’s children in care.
All Local Authorities have a duty under the Children and Families Act 2014 to appoint someone to “promote the educational achievement of the children they look after, regardless of where they are placed”. These educational leads are referred to as “Virtual School Heads” (VSH), because they monitor and track the educational progress of the children looked after by their authority as if they attended a single school.4
Neurofeedback was discovered in the 1960s by accident through scientific experiments with cats. Its scientific basis comes from operant conditioning and the neuroplasticity of the brain. A feedback learning loop is created from the brain’s electrical activity (brainwaves) back to the brain via the senses. Through this feedback loop the brain’s control circuits can be strengthened.
In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics annual independent review assessed Neurofeedback as meeting the highest levels of evidence for ADHD.
About Brain Mapping
BrainTrainUK’s Advanced Brain Mapping service uses software developed by Sterman-Kaiser Imaging Labs, founded by Dr David A Kaiser and Dr M Barry Sterman in California, USA.
About Stuart Black
Stuart Black is founder and Managing Director of Applied Neuroscience Solutions Ltd, trading as BrainTrainUK. He obtained a BSc in Electronic Engineering from King’s College London and Master’s in Coaching & Development from Portsmouth Business School. Stuart is a Chartered Engineer and has worked in defence, management consultancy and healthcare. He was Executive Director at the Cromwell Hospital in Kensington from 2009 to 2012.
His interest in the intersection of technology and wellbeing led him to Neurofeedback and how it could be used for therapy and peak performance, founding BrainTrainUK in 2013. In 2017 Stuart and his partner Inta fostered 3 children of a friend who died suddenly, which introduced him to the community of looked-after children.
About Sairah Shah
Sairah is currently an Assistant Headteacher with Surrey Virtual School for Looked after Children. She graduated in History in History (Asia and Africa) from the University of London’s School of Oriental & African Studies where she also gained a Masters in History. After graduating, Sairah wrote for a daily broadsheet in Pakistan before returning to train to teach in History at The University of Bath. Sairah has taught History and led education in a variety of mainstream contexts including 5 secondary schools, an FE College and local authority for 20 years.
Neuroscience became a focus of her pastoral support in schools 15 years ago, seeking strategies and meaningful interventions to support the learners she has taught. Sairah believes that BrainTrainUK’s Brain Mapping and Neurofeedback could be a breakthrough in educational intervention to assist young people to achieve optimal brain function.
2. https://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/care%20review%20full%20report.pdf, p1
5. Van der Kolk, B. (2014). The body keeps the score. New York: Viking, Chapter 19
Neurofeedback therapy session in action: