Neurofeedback, a non-invasive yet, direct training of brain function, is a type of biofeedback and is therefore, also called EEG Biofeedback. It uses the electrodes (which act like tiny microphones) placed on the client’s scalp to record and amplify the EEG, or brainwaves and control auditory, visual, and/or tactile feedback which allows learning to take place. This operant learning initiates self-regulation and enhances relaxation, both necessary components of good brain function.
The International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) defines biofeedback as “a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance. Precise instruments measure physiological activity such as brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature. These instruments rapidly and accurately “feed back” information to the user. The presentation of this information — often in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior — supports desired physiological changes. Over time, these changes can endure without continued use of an instrument” (2008, retrieved from http://www.isnr.org/neurofeedback-info/learn-more-about-neurofeedback.cfm).
The modality of neurofeedback is still considered experimental by many and is most often used as an intervention in counseling to enhance the treatment process. Individual counseling is also valuable in assisting clients in learning to cope appropriately with their new and improved functionality. As a learning tool for the brain, and often a natural alternative to medication, one example of neurofeedback training includes guiding the brain into various levels of relaxation at the neuronal or cellular level by targeting and training alpha frequencies (in ratio to other brain frequencies such as beta, theta and delta). This method frequently generates deeper levels of relaxation for the client causing improvements in psychological and physiological functioning.
In another way, neurofeedback targets the underlying dysregulation in brain activity that can exacerbate and sometimes cause clinical symptoms. This influence may also encourage neurophysiological resilience with the induction of brain flexibility, relaxation and a steadier central nervous system. For example, if one’s state of neuroanatomy and physiological health is over-stimulated or under-aroused, mental illnesses, with various symptoms may manifest behaviorally, psychologically, emotionally, and/or physically. Such disorders as anxiety and depression may have a base in neurophysiology which consequently can be targeted for training. A brain with greater flexibility has the capacity to more healthily adapt to challenging life situations.
The difference between traditional biofeedback and EEG biofeedback is its focus on the brain and central nervous system. Neurofeedback is rooted in clinical practice with its foundational in basic and applied neuroscience (ISNR, 2010) and has been researched for the past three to four decades.
During a session, clients usually report feeling relaxed. Clients sit in a recliner and listen to sounds and/or play a video game on a computer screen using their brain to direct the action. When the desired brain wave state is achieved, the game continues and points are accumulated. It’s easy and fun. Remember, nothing is being put into your brain. We are simply “listening” to your brain wave activity through sensors, much like a doctor listening to your heart with a stethoscope, and feeding the information back to you. For this reason, it is known as “Neurofeedback.”
No, no energy or electicity is put into your head. The equipment only “listens” to your brain waves.
Neurofeedback can also be used non-clinically for peak performance training, baseline data for sports players in case of head trauma/injury, certain sleep issues, and to track changes in brain function as a result of medication.
A minimum of 1 to 2 sessions per week.
What equipment do you use that has such a significant effect?
We use Neurospec Technologies‘ pioneereed “database-driven” neurofeedback equipment.
As is common knowledge, aging tremendously affects the brain and thus cognitive function. In spite of this, as the study completed at Brown University demonstrated, cognitive functioning can be maintained or improved for those who engage in neurofeedback before severe symptoms emerge.
Typically, 10 or more sessions are needed, but generally, less than 40.
Results will generally “stick” as long as positive mental and emotional environments and behaviors are maintained.
Yes, there has been a good deal of research regarding neurofeedback. Please visit the following sites where ISNR (International Society for Neurofeedback and Research) gives an organized assortment of research.