Artwork by Renée Tegeler (drreneehealingart.com)
Every brain is unique, with its own pattern of electrical frequencies (Hertz) and amplitudes (microvolts) for most efficient functioning. In the HIRREM approach, trauma, both physical and non-physical, may lead to disturbances in brain activity, including imbalances of frequencies and amplitudes. Specifically, traumas or threats can lead to activation of autonomic nervous system responses, sympathetic (fight or flight) or parasympathetic (freeze or withdrawal), to help survive the event. If the brain circuitry involved with managing the autonomic response remains chronically activated, the persisting physiological changes are not healthy and might contribute to symptoms or illnesses. The premise of HIRREM is that improved balance may be associated with reduced symptoms.
High-resolution, relational, resonance-based, electroencephalic mirroring (HIRREM®), developed by Lee Gerdes and Brain State Technologies, LLC, is a noninvasive, brain feedback technology to facilitate relaxation, auto-calibration, and self-optimization of neural oscillations by using auditory tones to reflect brain frequencies in near real time (Gerdes L, et al., Brain Behav, 2013). The first step in the HIRREM process, also known commercially as Brainwave Optimization®, is to obtain an assessment of the brain electrical pattern. An assessment is done by making very brief recordings of the brainwaves at six or more locations on the scalp, with the recipient at rest and while carrying out a task. The assessment includes one minute recordings at each location with the eyes closed, partially open, and open while performing a specific mental task (i.e. recalling numbers, reading a passage, etc.). This provides a map of frequencies and amplitudes with the brain at rest, and under load, while interacting with the environment, allowing identification of imbalances.
Based on the initial assessment, specific protocols are chosen for the first HIRREM session. Protocols are 6-40 minute periods of auditory feedback based on observation of specific locations and frequency bands. Protocols may be run with eyes open or eyes closed. A series of protocols (3-10) comprises a HIRREM session (usually about 90-120 minutes). Following the initial session, protocols for subsequent sessions are chosen based on data from the preceding session. Thus, there is not a standardized list of protocols for a course of HIRREM sessions. The series of protocols across sessions is unique for each recipient.
HIRREM protocols are done with the recipient sitting or reclining in a comfortable chair. Sensors are placed on the scalp at specific locations, depending on the protocol, allowing the computer to observe the brainwaves, and to identify a dominant frequency at a particular moment. This frequency is assigned an auditory tone, which is played back via ear buds in nearly real time (as little as 8 milliseconds). The brainwaves are constantly changing, so the recipient hears a series of tones. It appears that the brain quickly recognizes that the tones reflect what is going on in the brain at the time. By giving the brain a chance to listen to itself via this acoustic stimulation, it will, on its own, tend to self-optimize, usually resulting in electrical shifts towards improved balance and quieting. There is no cognitive activity required by the recipient, no operant conditioning, no learner in the loop, no requirement to re-live a traumatic event, and no attempt to force the brain into a specific pattern.
Some protocols are done with eyes open, and others with eyes closed. During eyes open protocols the recipient can do some relaxing activity such as reading a book, or working a word search, while during eyes closed protocols, recipients just relax, and may even fall asleep. The various protocols are each designed to address different locations and frequencies. Although the number of sessions varies, most individuals receive at least 10 sessions. Ideally this would all occur over one week (two sessions per day), but for our research projects, the goal is to complete sessions within 2-3 weeks. The HIRREM Process is summarized in Figure 1 below (click on the figure to enlarge).
A course of HIRREM sessions is a process, not an event. Integration of changes may continue to occur for several weeks after completion of HIRREM, and, in our research experience, additional changes may be noticed for up to 4-6 weeks after the last HIRREM session. Because they might interfere with the HIRREM process, or negate changes made during a course of HIRREM sessions, alcohol, and other recreational drugs are to be avoided during and for at least 3 weeks after completion of HIRREM sessions. HIRREM is not a medical device and is not intended to treat, cure, heal, or diagnose any disease, mental illness or symptom, and individual results and duration of effects may vary.