What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive method of direct brain function training. It is a specific type of biofeedback, and is also called EEG Biofeedback. It uses electrodes (which act like tiny microphones) placed on the client's scalp to record 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.
There are so many facets to what neurofeedback is, and the impacts it can have on us are literally endless. We urge you to read the FAQs on this page, and if you have any more questions about neurofeedback, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to provide a more specific answer or suggestion based on the information you provide for us.
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 then 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-introduction).
Why have I not heard of neurofeedback before?
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 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.
How does neurofeedback work?
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.
What is the difference between biofeedback and neurofeedback?
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 foundation in basic, and applied, neuroscience (ISNR, 2010), and has been researched for the past three to four decades.
Do I feel anything? What does a neurofeedback session feel like?
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."
We work specifically with BrainAvatar, which is a comprehensive interactive neurofeedback system capable of several types of brain training. Visit www.brainavatar.com for more information.
Is any electricity being put into my head?
No. No energy or electricity is put into your head. The equipment only "listens" to your brain waves.
Is neurofeedback only used for mental health issues?
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.
How often must I attend neurofeedback sessions?
Most clients start out at two sessions per week, and may step down to one later. But each person is different, and we will work with you to find a treatment plan that fits your schedule.
What equipment do you use that has such a significant effect?
We use BrainMaster Technologies' pioneering "database-driven" neurofeedback equipment, and the system is FDA registered.
Can neurofeedback help maintain functionality as we age?
Aging can tremendously affect the brain, and thus cognitive function. In spite of this, as a study completed at Brown University demonstrated, cognitive functioning can be maintained or improved for those who engage in neurofeedback before severe symptoms emerge.
How many neurofeedback sessions will I need?
A typical course of treatment usually starts out with twenty sessions, and may be extended an additional ten or twenty more if needed. It is rare for a course of treatment to exceed forty sessions, though more sessions may be necessary for more extreme cases.
How long do the results of neurofeedback last?
Results will generally last as long as positive mental, and emotional, environments and behaviors are maintained.
Is Neurofeedback equipment FDA approved? For what uses?
Not all neurofeedback equipment is registered with the FDA. However, the equipment we use (BrainMaster Technologies, Inc.) at the Brain Enrichment Center is registered with the FDA. Under the FDA guidelines, neurofeedback devices can be used for "stress reduction," and "relaxation." No other claims can be made regarding its use. The FDA may someday approve neurofeedback for treatment of psychiatric conditions, but, currently, the cost to obtain approval is in the millions of dollars.
Has there been any research completed about neurofeedback?
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.
StressTherapy Solutions (STS) also has research available for perusal. Simply search for your topic of interest.