How Does Neurofeedback Work?
The theory of neurofeedback is based on a simple concept – when you have information on what your brainwaves are doing, your brain can use that information to change how it works. Neurofeedback is also known as EEG Biofeedback. Neurofeedback is a guided exercise for the brain. It is actually a learning modality designed to retrain dysregulated brainwave patterns.
The goal of all neurofeedback is to transform an unhealthy, dysregulated brainwave pattern into a normal, healthy, organized pattern. By doing this, the brain becomes more stable and is able to operate optimally and efficiently. It is completely noninvasive and is considered by the Food and Drug Administration to be safe.
In fact the Food and Drug Administration recognizes that neurofeedback has NEVER produced a serious side effect since it was first discovered over 40 years ago. Published scientific research has demonstrated neurofeedback’s efficacy in managing many neurological conditions such as ADHD, Migraine and Tension Headache, Insomnia, Chronic Pain, Post Stroke Syndrome, Anxiety and Panic Attacks as well as many others.
Before training sessions begin, a comprehensive assessment is performed. This assessment procedure allows us to determine, in a scientifically objective manner whether a client’s brainwave patterns are different from normal.
The assessment provides us with the neurofeedback training protocols that will be used during the training sessions. These protocols are designed to retrain the brainwave patterns toward normal. As the brainwave patterns normalize, the brain is able to operate more optimally and efficiently.
Once the protocols are determined the individual is hooked up to a computer using wires and sensors and the computer records their brainwave activity. These sensors are noninvasive, as no electrical current is put into the brain. The sensors simply record the brainwaves coming from the brain. Information about these brainwaves is displayed on the our monitor.
The software automatically detects when the brainwaves are properly ordered and it feeds that information back to the client. This feedback appears in the form of a game, movie, or sound which signals the client that the brainwaves are becoming more ordered. For example, in the image above, the client is watching a puzzle of a picture that is being filled in piece by piece. As long as the client’s brain waves are moving in an orderly direction, the puzzle pieces are filled in and the client hears a tone. If the brainwave patterns move away from an orderly pattern, then the puzzle does not get filled in and no tone is produced. The client is actually controlling the completion of the puzzle with their brain and by doing so, the brain is learning how to regulate itself.
In another design, the client performs the training while watching a movie. In this case the client may watch a DVD movie that is being controlled by their ability to regulate their brainwaves. The movie will get brighter as the brain waves normalize and become darker when they become dysregulated.
The brain’s natural desire to watch the movie clearly will drive those neurological circuits that normalize the brainwaves and allow the picture to be visualized. The more those circuits are driven and used – the more neuroplastic changes take hold. The client learns how to use those new circuits during the demands of everyday life.