What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is direct training of brain function, by which the brain learns to function more efficiently. We observe the brain in action from moment to moment. We show that information back to the client. And we reward the brain for changing its own activity to more appropriate patterns. This is a gradual learning process. It applies to any aspect of brain function that we can measure. Neurofeedback is also called EEG Biofeedback, because it is based on electrical brain activity, the electroencephalogram, or EEG. Neurofeedback is training in self-regulation. It is simply biofeedback applied to the brain directly. Self-regulation is a necessary part of good brain function. Self-regulation training allows the system (the central nervous system) to function better.
Many psychological and physical conditions, at least in part, involve some type of brain dysregulation. Since the 1990’s, neuroscience has identified “brain problems” – which are a departure from the “norm” as underlying many psychological problems. EEG training helps improve brain regulation, which usually helps reduce symptoms related to brain dysregulation. The most common symptoms neurofeedback can help:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Panic Attacks
- Cognitive Impairment (Traumatic Brain Injury)
- Sleep Dysregulation
- Autism, PDD, and Reactive Attachment Disorder
Neurofeedback Frequently Asked Questions "How is Neurofeedback done?"
We apply electrodes to the scalp to listen in on brainwave activity. We process the signal by computer, and we extract information about certain key brainwave frequencies. We show the ebb and flow of this activity back to the person, who attempts to change the activity level. Some frequencies we wish to promote. Others we wish to diminish. We present this information to the client in the form of a video game. The client is effectively playing the video game with his or her brain. Eventually the brainwave activity is "shaped" toward more desirable, more regulated performance. The frequencies we target, and the specific locations on the scalp where we listen in on the brain, are specific to the conditions we are trying to address, and specific to the individual.
"Who can benefit from Neurofeedback?"
Anyone can! Neurofeedback is training in self-regulation. Good self-regulation is necessary for optimal brain function. Self-regulation training enhances the function of the central nervous system and thereby improves mental performance, emotional control and physiological stability. Excessive fast or slow activity is associated with brain dysregulation and a variety of clinical symptoms. Training changes in that activity toward more effective patterns which helps improve self-regulation. With neurofeedback, the target is bioelectrical functioning of the brain, the brain’s internal regulatory networks. Neurofeedback trains the brain’s functional dysregulation. Simply by detecting the brain going off track through the EEG, it is possible to train the brain toward enhanced stability and improved functioning. In other respects, neurofeedback is somewhat like putting the brain on a tread mill to exercise certain regulatory functions continuously. Neurofeedback can help anyone maintain good brain function no matter what age they are.
"How long does the effect of training last?"
Neurofeedback involves learning by the brain and if that brings order out of disorder, the brain will continue to use its new capabilities, and thus reinforce them.
Matters are different when we are dealing with degenerative conditions like Parkinson's or the dementias, or when we are working against continuing insults to the system, as may be the case in the autism spectrum. In such cases the training needs to be continued at some level over time. Allergic susceptibilities and food intolerances make it more difficult to hold the gains. Poor digestive function will pose a problem, as does poor nutrition. A child living in a toxic environment (in either the physical or the psychological sense) will have more difficulty retaining good function.
"Can Neurofeedback training be done while clients are on medication?"
Yes! Many clients start neurofeedback while on one or more medications. After a number of neurofeedback sessions, a reduction in medications is not unusual. (It’s very important that your doctor be alerted if signs of overmedication occur). The brain is dynamic; changes in the electrical system affects the chemical system and vice versa. The theory is that, as the brain becomes more activated during training (increased blood flow), the brain works more efficiently. A regulated brain uses all substance more efficiently.
"How does training transfer to everyday situations?"
When an individual notes their attention has improved, or they are less angry or anxious, they don’t have to remember what they did in neurofeedback training. The training generalizes, and the brain – under a high demand situation – seems to have learned to manage itself better. The brain is being trained for better self-regulation, which improves its functioning in any setting or situation.
Interested in Neurofeedback?
To schedule a consultation with Lynda Smith, please call 208.939.3999 or click here to request an appointment.