HEG TRAINING TIPS by Peter Van Deusen
...I learned the truth of an old management maxim: If
you want to change something, pay attention to it.
Here's the question I ask first: Do you believe you'll need to see "data"
to know whether training is working or not. HEG training is aerobic
exercising of the brain's executive center, so that key area increases its
ability to activate more quickly and maintain his energy levels over time as
If that doesn't happen, you won't be very satisfied with HEG. It won't
matter what the graphs look like.
With any aerobic exercise, the goal is to get into the target energy range
and sustain it longer and longer--improve the supply of oxygenated blood.
The graphs show whether you are getting into the "training range" for your
brain, just like a pulsemeter for the heart.
Watching what happens during a session: the client's ability to increase
levels quickly, how long the higher levels can be maintained. How long does
it take the client, when you tell him to concentrate: "don't think, don't
try. Just watch the line (bar) and figure out how you make it go up." Most
will fairly quickly figure it out, focusing intently on something. You can
watch what percent they increased from the baseline, how quickly the rise
from baseline to high activation is done, how long is the plateau sustained
and when it starts a clear downward trend. You can "compare" sessions if
you want to, or you can just use them to show the client improvements. But
the place to focus is on specific training goals.
When I was a hospital administrator doing turnarounds for big hospital
management companies, I learned the truth of an old management maxim: If you want to change something, pay attention to it.
You are doing 3 different segments in most HEG sessions: left edge, right
edge and center of the forehead. I do them in different orders each time,
because the strongest response can usually be achieved in the first site.
But training the first already has an effect on the second, so increases can
be harder to achieve there--even harder in the third. But it's doing the
exercise that makes the changes. Help the client define specifically what
changes are desired, and help track what happens in those areas--and others
With nIR you aren't measuring temperature. You are measuring the
relationship between red and infrared light picked up at the sensor (under
the white dot) combined with the infrared temperature of the area being
trained. It's a combination of two different indicators, so I don't see the
measures as should show an upward trend over a series of sessions--though
they well may.
Focus on what you want to change in the real world. Give feedback on
performance within a session using the graphs, DVD's or whatever kind of
feedback the client finds helpful.
Using my favorite analogy for nIR--that is aerobic exercise-- we can agree
that a person who works out and gets in better aerobic condition in their
cardiopulmonary system doesn't HAVE to race around all the time. He just
improves the ability to increase activity levels and maintain them for
longer periods. He can still sit on the couch and watch a chick flick and
drink beer (or perhaps white wine) as well as he could before getting in
The fact that a person has a brain dominated by high frequencies doesn't
necessarily mean that she is in good shape in terms of perfusion--the
supply system for getting blood out into the neighborhoods where neurons
work and live. In fact, since the PFC is the center of a good deal of the
inhibitory control systems in the brain, and one could argue fairly
effectively that any brain that is producing lots of beta and high-beta for
no functional reason is lacking in control, improving prefrontal function
could actually reduce excess fast activity.
A few interesting facts about the cardiovascular system I learned from a
physician at one of my recent workshops.
The average human body has around 60,000 MILES of arteries/capillaries and
veins, enough to circle the earth 2.5 times! There are only 10
pints--about 5 quarts--of blood in your body. Not hard to see that, at any
given time, a large percentage of the blood vessels aren't carrying much if
Think of the cardiovascular system like a highway system: There are
superhighways, other large roads, small roads and little neighborhood
block-or-two-long streets. Even with all the cars in the US, it's probably
fair to estimate that, at any given point in time, most of the square feet
of streets/roads/highways DON'T have any cars on them! But there are times
when most of those square feet of paving ARE needed to carry traffic.
Now let's imagine a little beach town called PFCity. it has some large
highways capable of delivering traffic to it, but because it's a sleepy
little town, there are only a few roads leading from the highways to the
town--and even fewer streets and drives for getting around within the
town. That's not a problem except maybe 2-3 times a year when people from
large cities decide to go to the beach, and they all arrive on the same day
on the highways. Traffic backs up because once cars get off the highway,
the roads quickly jam (they're just simple two-laners), and when you
actually reach the town itself, to get to the beach or any of the
bed-and-breakfasts where people stay is a nightmare.
If this only happens one or two times a year, people grumble and maybe
change their plans, but no big deal.
But what happens if a new mayor is elected who decides to really promote
the town as a gorgeous tourist haven to pump up the local economy? Now
nearly every weekend there are traffic jams. The state could get involved
(if it had any money) widening the roads that lead from the highways to the
town (more revenue for the town, more taxes for the state). And the mayor
could get the town to build a much more complete grid of streets and
Still, during large parts of the year, this will be overkill. But when the
traffic needs/wants to come to PFCity, it can get there and move around
The first few times I do HEG with a client, using the graph page I prefer
for nIR training, I use those sessions to show the client how good the
distribution system is in his PFC. Some people spike up 8-10% almost
immediately and then crash just as fast, stumble along a little, then spike
and crash again. Others run up more slowly and are able to sustain a level
for a minute or two before starting to see their ratios fall. Those
patterns in the ratio tend to be pretty good analogs of thir attention
But each time we train--as long as we are doing so 2-3 times a week--the
brain calls on the body for more blood, and the body tries to increase the
traffic. After a while, the body says, "you know, I'm over it with these
emergency demands for blood in the PFC; let's just build some new capillary
beds--or make the ones we have denser--so we can get the blood out into the
tissue faster and more efficiently." And that's what happens (exactly the
same thing that happens in your heart and lungs when you do aerobic
exercise). You stress the system, then give the highway department some
time to work on improvements. Then you stress it again, and further
improvements are made. Eventually I look for a client able to raise her
ratio by7-12% (more or less) within 30 seconds to a minute. The PFC
becomes much quicker kicking into a higher gear. And then I look for the
plateau to hold (perhaps with some additional rises as it goes along) for
another 9 minutes. When the client can do that, he/she has optimized the
distribution system, so these neurons, which should be the most active in
the brain, have all the oxygen and glucose they need, and a great trash
service, to work at their peak.
HEG is Analogous to Aerobic Exercise