Saul Rosenthal, PhD

Saul Rosenthal, Boston Area Health Psychologist

While I tend to keep my political views out of my professional work, I find myself tentatively venturing into the muck of some current politics with my clinician’s hat firmly on. A recent series of articles has examined a connection between Betsy DeVos, the (at this moment) nominee for education secretary and a company that provides neurofeedback and biofeedback services. Articles like What the heck is neurofeedback? from a site called Motherboard (update: the article seems to have disappeared) or DeVos-Backed Company Makes Questionable Claims on Autism, ADHD from the Education Week site don’t really bother me too much. And in fact these have been well rebutted by the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research.

However, once the New York Times got into the game I felt obliged to respond. The language of the article (actually all the articles I’ve read) are clearly designed to suggest there is something wrong with DeVos’ relationship with the company Neurocore (note: it looks like the company may not be in business anymore). I am not here to comment on politics, DeVos’ qualifications, whether her relationship with Neurocore is problematic or whether Neurocore does good work.

Rather, I am here to discuss Neurofeedback. Because the New York Times article seems to be attempting to criticize DeVos’ relationship by delegitimizing neurofeedback as an effective treatment for numerous conditions. I would like to consider several points in the article.

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February 1st, 2017

Posted In: Neurofeedback

One aspect of Internet Addiction (or Problematic Technology Overuse as I call it) that I think deserves attention is the role of impulsivity. Impulsivity follows a sequence:

I See It

I Want It

I Grab for It

We’ve all been impulsive at one time or another, usually without too many bad consequences. Unfortunately, if a person can’t control their impulsivity, they are likely to get into trouble. A child may see candy in a shop and grab it. A driver might see an opening in the next lane and cut in front of another driver. You might see something you want on the Amazon site and click the One Click Shopping button.

In fact, I think that in many ways our natural impulsivity is a driving force (perhaps the driving force) behind the success of the Internet. We see something we want and the Internet makes it really really really easy to get.

How often have you clicked from one link to another, following the promise of something more interesting/useful/fun, until you suddenly realize that much more time has passed than you’d thought? When we impulsively pursue something, our concepts of time and priority change. Impulsive acts are short-lived, distinct events that hyper-focus our attention. For better or worse, the Internet is filled with quickly-achieved targets that provide a taste of satisfaction while frequently promising more if you would just click this one last link…

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April 22nd, 2015

Posted In: Internet Addiction, Neurofeedback