Neurofeedback is a safe, non-invasive, pain-free, medication-free therapy that improves brain function in adults and children. It works to increase focus, attention, and cognitive function by utilizing the principles of learning and conditioning.
The term Neurofeedback was coined in the 1960s and is based on the idea that the human brain can learn to control its own behavior through the process of biofeedback. A therapist or patient wears sensors that measure brain wave activity and transmits the data to a computer. This information is then interpreted by software and sent back to the patient as real-time feedback.
During the session, patients watch images, videos, or sound on their computer screen to engage their brainwaves in positive patterns that are beneficial for them. These visual and auditory cues are rewarded with immediate feedback when the brainwave pattern changes to one that is more desirable or controlled, and this reinforces the change.
Clients typically have a number of sessions to achieve the optimum treatment for them. This is because the systems are so complex and rely on the unconscious part of the brain to make a shift in the way it processes information.
How It Works
Using either passive (slow-wave) or active (fast-wave) Neurofeedback, the patient watches a video or listens to music and the therapist monitors their brain waves on a special computer screen. As the patient’s brainwave pattern improves, the feedback is rewarded with increasing size or volume on the screen. This real-time feedback helps the brain learn to balance its brainwave patterns and become more focused.
For many conditions, this type of training is extremely effective and long-lasting. Examples include depression, PTSD, ADHD, anxiety disorders, insomnia, headaches, migraines, post-concussion symptoms and more.
Neurofeedback is not a substitute for other forms of treatment and should be considered along with any other therapies the patient is receiving. It can be used as a stand-alone treatment or as an adjunct to other treatments for specific conditions and symptoms.
Achieving the best results from neurofeedback requires multiple sessions because the therapist uses different settings for each brainwave – this is to ensure that they are the most appropriate for each patient. A typical treatment will take 10-20 sessions for slow-wave and 30-40 for fast-wave systems.
Some patients may need a few more sessions than others because they may have more complicated issues to address. These include autism, other developmental delays, brain injury and other neurological conditions.
The most common neurofeedback system is a device that places sensors on the scalp and measures brainwaves in an EEG (electroencephalography) manner. The EEG signals are processed by a microprocessor to create numbers that represent the individual’s brainwave patterns.
These numbers are then sent to a computer that can interpret them and use specialized algorithms to calculate the frequency of the brainwaves. The information from this is then compared to the user’s desired target brainwave frequencies, which can be achieved through a range of tasks.
Over time, the user will learn to activate and inhibit brainwaves that are more calming and restful. They will also develop an intuitive sense of these states that will become automatic. This process of self-regulation can be referred to as “neuroplasticity” and it will allow for lasting change in the brain’s behavior and function.