What Is Neurofeedback?
EEG (Electroencephalogram) Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback where individuals are trained to improve the functioning of their brain. Neurofeedback has its foundation in basic and applied neuroscience and is approved by the American Psychological Association as an evidence-based intervention. Modern neuroscience has revealed that individuals have more personal control over brain activity than was ever thought possible in the past. This capacity for change is due to the brain's plasticity.
Neurofeedback integrates clinical expertise with the best available research to address behavioural, cognitive, and subjective functions related to brain activity. Communication between groups of cells in the brain is detectable in the form of brainwaves (electrical impulses generated by brain activity). Neurofeedback is a way to quantify and train brain activity. Training the brain to self-regulate through Neurofeedback can promote optimal cognitive functioning, emotional control and physiological health.
How Does A Neurofeedback Session Work?
EEG Neurofeedback begins with an EEG assessment, which records the brain’s electrical activity at multiple sites on the surface of the scalp and compares it to a database of healthy individuals the same age as the client. During assessment and training sessions, sensors are placed on the scalp and then connected to a computer and equipment which detects and monitors specific brain wave activity.
Once the EEG assessment has been completed, the Practitioner develops a treatment protocol that specifies sites on the scalp and brain wave elements to be trained. During a neurofeedback training session, sensors detect and measure brainwave activity which is compared to targets or goals for the client to reach. Brain activity measured this way is then used to play sound and transmit visual information (often in the form of games) on the monitor. Based on this feedback of sound, visual information, and Practitioner guidance, individuals receive feedback when their brainwaves are reaching the training goals and targets. Gradually, clients learn to produce changes in their brain patterns and improve their ability to think, feel, function physically, and act in ways that they desire.
How Many Sessions Does It Take To Notice A Change?
Neurofeedback results generally vary with the individual but training benefits are typically reported after twenty to forty sessions. Some individuals experience positive change after as little as ten sessions but for most individuals, twenty sessions are recommended. Neurofeedback generally involves one session per week or in some cases, two sessions per week. Once brain improvement is noted, sessions are gradually decreased. Most sessions involve twenty to forty-five minutes of clinical neurofeedback activity.
Are there Side Effects?
Neurofeedback training generally produces few, if any, negative side effects and there are few published reports of side effects. Clients usually find neurofeedback to be an interesting and engaging experience that feels good. Some individuals report feeling somewhat fatigued following a treatment session and in this case it may be helpful to schedule your sessions for later in the day, or at a time when you can rest after.
Types of Neurofeedback Treatment
Four commonly used types of treatment that Tamara utilizes include: Z Score training, Alpha-Theta Training, Alpha Training, and SMR training.
- Z Score Neurofeedback is a relatively new EEG Neurofeedback technique using a normative database to identify and target an individual's specific area of dysregulation allowing for faster and more effective treatment. Z Score training is often an effective treatment for cognitive enhancement, optimal performance, and for a variety of symptoms pertaining to attention, focus, mood, sleep, and cognitive processing.
- Alpha-Theta training is a deep state form of EEG Neurofeedback geared toward increasing and enhancing alpha and theta wavelengths using an auditory stimulus and usually performed with eyes closed. It is frequently used to achieve peak mental performance, promote relaxation, reduce stress and facilitate deep change. It can also be effective in regulating autonomic nervous system arousal, lowering pain, reducing anxiety, and supporting healthy sleep patterns.
- Alpha training can be helpful for improved concentration and focus, memory enhancement, optimal mental performance, and regulation of mood. The Alpha Wave of the brain is usually associated with alert relaxation.
- Sensorimotor Rhythm (SMR) training focuses on enhancement and regulation of the sensorimotor rhythm and can be used to gain control over SMR activity.
What Kind of Conditions Are Treated With Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback has proven to be an effective intervention for reducing symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Ongoing research indicates that neurofeedback can also be an effective intervention for insomnia, anxiety, depression, and trauma. It is also used to improve quality of life for individuals living with autism spectrum disorders, chronic pain, headaches, and mild traumatic brain injury (concussion). Several other research studies are ongoing.
Neurofeedback is also used to improve optimal performance and is often used among athletes, musicians, and performing artists for peak performance or reduction of performance anxiety. In addition, neurofeedback has been utilized to enhance learning and elevate cognitive functioning among the general population. Studies have shown that neurofeedback can be utilized to enhance academic performance, raise intelligence scores, improve attention in college students and adults, and increase thinking speed and executive control in the elderly.
** Click Here for the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) Comprehensive Bibliography of Neurofeedback in Scholarly Articles. Here you will find bibliographies for all peer-reviewed journal articles and research pertaining to the effectiveness of EEG neurofeedback for several different conditions.