Using Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) with teletherapy to help your clients during physical distancing

By Mary-Anne Janewski

Using Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) with teletherapy to help your clients during physical distancing

Are physical distancing restrictions getting in the way of you providing therapy to your clients who struggle with anxiety? We are getting more and more feedback from clinicians on how they are using Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) with their patients during these very stressful and difficult times. Some clinical offices rent or sell devices to their clients to take home to use between appointments. With an increase of Skype, Zoom and Facebook Messenger video chat availability, a clinician can carry on with therapy sessions. AVE is easy-to-use, inexpensive, and does not require a prescription. When a treatment is easy to implement and adherence is high, then it is more likely that the client will stay engaged and continue with therapy.

AVE affects many aspects of the brain and mind (Rhythmic Stimulation Procedures in Neuromodulation, 2017, D. Siever, Chapter 3):

1) guides the brain into different brainwave activity patterns (frequency)

2) dissociates the mind – similar to meditation

3) calms the autonomic system (breaks the HPA axis)

4) increases cerebral blood flow, lactate and anaerobic ATP

5) balances neurotransmitters

6) excites neurons and glia

7) increases Heat Shock Protein 70

8) activates specific cytokines

1) Brainwave activity

AVE is used to guide the brain into various brainwave frequencies to improve mental functioning and performance as well as general well being.  In one research article with university and college students, results showed using a DAVID device with our patented Omniscreen eyesets provided a useful and effective tool for boosting concentration, memory and grade-point average, while simultaneously reducing worry.

The benefits in concentration, memory, and improved well-being are measurable and educationally significant and may be appreciated almost immediately. The implementation of the DAVID AVE device in an educational setting will allow students to achieve better grades with less stress, while having more time for socializing and enjoying family, friends, and life.

A Novel Way of Boosting Grades and Socialization While Reducing Stress in the Typical University Student

This same research article, a Texas-based study by Wolitzky, et al., (2010) found the DAVID AVE devices were more effective in reducing worry than traditional psychological worry-reduction techniques. Wolitzky used our patented independent-field stimulation eyesets, which stimulated a beta frequency into the left hemisphere of the brain and an alpha frequency into the right hemisphere of the brain. This has been reported to reduce anxiety and depression (Siever, 1998; 2004; 2007).

The study was four weeks in duration and the students received their respective therapy three times per week. Comparing a Waiting List Control group, a Worry Exposure Therapy group and an Expressive Writing group, AVE was the most effective technique for reducing worry which translates into improved business performance and everyday living.

This study also demonstrates that the carry-over effect following the cessation of AVE treatment continued for at least four months.

2) Dissociation and Restabilization

Using dissociation with clients with a history of trauma during the course of treatment is very effective. The state of mind that a person has at any given moment is made up of the brainwave activity associated with apprehension, anxiety, physical tension (proprioceptive/afferent associations), destructive thoughts, and conditioned responses relating to the colors, smells, sounds, etc. Once the mind is clear, all of these tensions, conditioned responses (bracing habits), fearful thoughts and the effects of afference (sensory information) subside, allowing the mind and brain to relax, become more malleable and open to new healthy thoughts, post-hypnotic suggestions, brainwave activity and so on. During AVE, the Electromyography (EMG) and electro-dermal responses fall, finger temperature increases and breathing becomes smooth and diaphragmatic. These changes reflect a return to homeostasis or restabilization, hence the term dissociation and restabilization (DAR) (Siever, 2000).

In this article the first study on dissociation induced by entrainment involved hypnotic induction and found that photic stimulation at alpha frequencies could easily put subjects into hypnotic trances (Kroger & Schneider, 1959; Lewerenz, 1963). Kroger and Schneider's study showed nearly 80% of the participants in the study were in a hypnotic trance within six minutes of photic entrainment. 

Psychologists have been looking for ways to dissociate their clients as a part of fear and phobia treatment. Inducing dissociation using AVE was found to be more effective than dot staring or stimulus deprivation (Leonard, Telch, & Harrington, 1999). 

3) Breaking the HPA Axis

The HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) refers to a complex set of interactions and feedback loops between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. The system regulates the body’s response to stress, immune function, energy expenditure, mood, emotions, and libido. It is released in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration. All our autonomic functioning is regulated by the hypothalamus and the whole hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which activates during fight-or-flight, is part of that loop. Entrainment shuts down this loop very effectively and shuts down cortisol. Breaking the HPA Axis is good for heart rate variability.

4) Increases cerebral blood flow, lactate and anaerobic ATP

Cerebral blood flow (CBF) is essential for good mental health and function. SPECT and FMRI imaging of CBF show that hypoperfusion of CBF is associated with many forms of mental disorders. CBF increases dramatically during AVE (Fox & Raichle, 1985; Sappy-Marinier et al., 1992). The figure below shows an increase of 28% in cerebral blood flow within the striate cortex, a primary visual processing area within the occiput. As an interesting note, maximal CBF occurs at 7.8 Hz, the Schumann Resonance of the earth.

Cerebral Blood Flow at Various AVE Repetition Rates (Fox & Raichle, 1985)

With TBI, concussion, or viral infection, lactate gets shut down. In a study by Sappey-Marinier, in a 5-minute span of using AVE, lactate was driven up 260% which is why AVE seems to work so well with concussed clients.

5) Neurotransmitters

During fear reaction, serotonin crashes. There is evidence that blood serum levels of serotonin, endorphin, and norepinephrine rise considerably following 10 Hz white-light AVE (Shealy, 1989). Increases in endorphins reflect increased relaxation while increased norepinephrine along with a reduction in daytime levels of melatonin, indicate increased alertness.

This same study found that blood serum levels of serotonin, endorphin, and norepinephrine all rose considerably following 30 minutes of 10 Hz, white-light AVE. This correlates to being relaxed, but mentally sharp. Increases in endorphins lead to an increased sense of well-being and increased tolerance to pain (which can be helpful when experiencing a stiff neck, shoulders, and back from sitting and studying for exams).

"Multiple sessions may result in improved functioning that endures following treatment termination." Taken from this article: Frequency-Based Light & Sound Neurotherapy (LSN) Research: A Review of the Research  Ed Pigott, Ph.D., Gregory Alter, Ph.D., and Dennis Marikis, Ph.D. Licensed Psychologists & Principals 

6) Neuronal and glial excitation

Glia is activated when lactate goes up.

7) Increases Heat Shock Protein 70

"Heat shock protein (Hsp) is released in our body when our cells are being threatened. Hsp70 skyrockets as a protective mechanism to keep the cells from injury and dying. It is important for immunity to have high heat-shock protein numbers. Hsp protects the brain from injury through multiple mechanisms.

A randomized 8 Hz AVE study was completed, and it showed Hsp70 was driven up 184%. AVE appears to relax the mind yet stimulate the actual and supporting structures of the brain itself."

8) Activates specific cytokines

Gamma entrainment has remarkable effects on brain cytokines. From this article:

“In 2016, researchers discovered that light flickering at 40 Hz mobilized microglia in mice afflicted with Alzheimer's to clean up that junk. The new study looked for brain chemistry that connects the flicker with microglial and other immune activation in mice and exposed a surge of 20 cytokines—small proteins secreted externally by cells and which signal to other cells. Accompanying the cytokine release, internal cell chemistry—the activation of proteins by phosphate groups—left behind a strong calling card.”

“The phosphoproteins showed up first. It looked as though they were leading, and our hypothesis is that they triggered the release of the cytokines," said Singer, who co-led the new study and is an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory.

You can watch our webinars on AVE and CES here:

You can read all of Dave Siever’s research articles here:

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