Neurofeedback (or EEG biofeedback) is a learning process that shows the brain a better way to function, something it never learned to do properly in the first place or, due to various life circumstances, has forgotten how to do properly. It is a form of brain exercise that allows your brain to retrain and rebalance for optimal performance, while helping to improve memory, mood, and energy levels.
A specialized electronic equipment is used to read your brainwaves and provide feedback to your brain. Although the technology is complex, the process is simple, painless, and non-invasive. It is just learning. You learn to alter your brain activity the same way you learn every other skill. Science has shown that repetitive exercise of brain networks results in brain change. This is called neuroplasticity. Neurofeedback allows you to harness neuroplasticity to get to the root of the problem and reshape your brain.
Regular neurofeedback training helps reduce or eliminate unwanted symptoms, improve mental acuity and flexibility, enhance learning capacity and gain better emotional regulation. It is a very powerful, predictable training intervention that leads your brain to healthier patterns.
Neurofeedback is for individuals of all ages and is used to help manage or improve:
· Concentration and Focus
· Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Symptoms
· Learning Developmental Delays
· Behavioral and Emotional Issues
· Stress, PTSD, Migraine
· Impulsivity, Panic Attacks
· Sleep Problems
· TBI, and other brain conditions and injuries
The process is safe because it is non-invasive. There are no electrical currents or magnetic charges fed into your brain. The equipment simply reads your brainwave activity and presents it back to the brain to show how it is performing in real time and the decision to move to a better state of function is determined by your brain itself.
During a neurofeedback session, you will wear ear clips and two small sensors on the sides of your head. These pick up the delicate electrical activity of your brain. You relax and listen to music or watch a movie. The system processes your brain signals very rapidly and when it detects them moving into an “instability”, the music or movie pauses very briefly. This is the “feedback”. Consciously of course, this has no meaning for you — in fact you may not even notice them. But unconsciously your brain understands the mathematics behind the timing of the pauses, which act a bit like a “rumble strip”. The brain adjusts its activity without any effort from you (you can be completely zoned out if you want), to stay “within” the rumble strip. The brain does this on its own.
Every person is unique. The pace of change differs from person to person. Typically, young brains learn faster than older ones, and the more long standing and entrenched the symptoms, the more sessions are required. Results from neurofeedback training are seen gradually over time. Some clients feel immediate results and some can take longer before any changes are noted.
The reported average number range of sessions before initial progress can be seen is 10-15 sessions for most conditions. A typical treatment program consists of between 20 and 60 sessions, depending upon the conditions being addressed. Frequency of training is usually two to three times per week and can taper to once a week until training is finished. Sessions are booked for 45 minutes and clients generally receive 33 minutes of actual training. The key is regularity and frequency, like any other training.
For most, simply relieving uncomfortable symptoms is enough. Others want to move forward and tackle new goals. Ultimately, self-improvement is a lifelong continuum. How much is enough is up to you.
Since neurofeedback is a learning program, as the brain figures out how best to operate itself, symptoms are reduced and often eliminated entirely. Similar to a consistent work out program, continued neurofeedback training allows the overall effects to last longer. As the changes continue to hold between sessions, trainings become less frequent and ultimately the need for additional training becomes unnecessary.
Long term studies indicate that the results of neurofeedback training are permanent which makes sense because the brain has reorganized to work in a more efficient way and needs no reminders to continue. However, life situations change and there are clients who may need occasional extra sessions to maintain those results.
Proper diet and lifestyle choices, good sleep hygiene, physical exercise, a supportive community, and a purposeful spiritual life can all help maintain an environment for best brain function.
We use a CPT (Continuous Performance Testing) device for tracking neurofeedback results. It is a 20-minute test of variable attention that assess baseline performance data at the beginning of training and at various follow-up points. Speed, accuracy and consistency are also all being measured, and will be compared to norms after the full test.
Yes, absolutely. Neurofeedback is a valuable tool for overall physical and mental health. You can do neurofeedback training when doing psychotherapy, pursuing nutritional programs, body work, etc.
Coverage varies by insurance provider but it is often not a covered modality.
Four decades of research demonstrates how effective neurofeedback is (Lubar & Shouse, 1976). In 1973, research was conducted to look at the effectiveness of Neurofeedback versus medication in treating Vietnam veterans with PTSD and substance abuse. Within a matter of days, the Neurofeedback was clearly eliminating symptoms, and the drug company made the hospital pull the study (Dr. Roseann C. Hodge).
Research from Gani et al. (2008) demonstrates the long-term effectiveness of Neurofeedback, as they found that improvements in behavior and attention were stable 6 months and 2 years after completion of therapy.
Recent meta-analyses document the effectiveness of Neurofeedback in the treatment of ADHD (Arns, de Ridder, Strehl, Breteler, and Coenen, 2009) in reducing inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. In another study, Ziong, Shi and Hu (2005) demonstrated a 90 percent of children with ADHD improved after 40 sessions of Neurofeedback. In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics rated Neurofeedback/ Biofeedback as a Level 1 intervention for ADHD which is the same level as medication. This was a verification of the effectiveness of Neurofeedback as an effective holistic therapy.
Neurofeedback produces lasting changes that puts people on a path to wellness and people need to see it for what it is: a research tested, valid and safe option for helping improve brain functioning and mental health.
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