What is Neurobiofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a technique in which we train the brain to help improve its ability to regulate all bodily functions and to take care of itself. When the brain is not functioning well, evidence of this often shows up in the EEG (Electroencephalogram). By challenging the brain, much as you challenge your body in physical exercise, we can help your brain learn to function better.
A better functioning brain can improve sleep patterns, can help with anxiety, depression and with symptoms like migraine or chronic pain, can be helpful in managing attention – how well you can persist even at a boring task, and can help you manage your emotions. Emotions may feel like the real you, but your brain has a lot to say about how you feel and react. If the emotions are out of control, that’s trainable. If they aren’t there—as in lack of empathy, for example—that, too, is trainable with neurofeedback.
Finally, there are some specific issues where the EEG neurofeedback training can be helpful, such as in cases of seizures, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and autism. In these instances the training does not so much get rid of the problem as it simply organizes the brain to function better in the context of whatever injury or loss exists.
Who can it help?
EEG Biofeedback is used for many conditions in which the brain is not working as well as it might. These include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, conduct problems, impulsivity, aggression, specific learning disabilities, sleep problems, teeth grinding, and chronic pain such as frequent headaches or stomach pain or migraines. The training is also helpful with the control of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as for more severe conditions such as medically uncontrolled seizures, minor traumatic brain injury or cerebral palsy.
Individuals of any age can benefit from EEG training. Neurofeedback can help a variety of childhood problems including attention deficits and other forms of disruptive and disturbing behaviors, bedwetting and nightmares. Neurofeedback can assist adolescents and adults who might struggle with anxiety, depression, or with drug and alcohol abuse. Neurofeedback can help maintain good brain function as we age. EEG training can enhance abilities in sports, business and the arts for peak performance.
Conditions/Symptoms that neurofeedback has proven effective with includes:
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Attachment Disorder
- Autistic Spectrum Disorder
- Autoimmune situations
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic Pain
- Conduct Problems
- Migraines and Headaches
- Learning Disabilities
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Peak Performance
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Sleep Disorders/Insomnia
- Teeth Grinding
- Tourettes Syndrome
- Traumatic Brain Injury
How does a session work?
An initial interview is conducted to obtain a description of symptoms and to get a picture of the health history and family history. Some testing may be done as well. During the EEG training session, the EEG will be observed. The EEG training sessions last about 40 minutes to an hour, and are conducted from one to five times per week. Some improvement is generally seen within ten sessions. Once learning is consolidated, the benefit appears to be permanent in most cases.
The EEG biofeedback training is a painless, non-invasive procedure. One or more sensors are placed on the scalp and one on each ear. The brain waves are monitored by means of an amplifier and a computer-based instrument that processes the signal and provides the proper feedback. This is displayed to the trainee by means of a video game or other video display, along with audio signals. The trainee is asked to make the video game go with his brain. As activity in a desirable frequency band increases, the video game moves faster, or some other reward is given. As activity in an undesirable band increases, the video game is inhibited. Gradually, the brain responds to the cues that it is being given, and a “learning” of new brain wave patterns takes place. The new pattern is one which is closer to what is normally observed in individuals without such disabilities.
What happens if neurofeedback clients are taking medications?
With successful neurofeedback training, medications targeting brain function may no longer be needed, or they may be needed at lower dosages, as the brain takes over the role of regulating itself. It is important for clients to communicate with their prescribing physician regarding neurofeedback and medications.
Does neurofeedback cure these conditions?
In the case of organic brain disorders, it can only be a matter of getting the brain to function better rather than of curing the condition. When it comes to problems of disregulation, we would say that there is not a disease to be cured. Where disregulation is the problem, self-regulation may very well be the remedy. But again the word cure would not apply.
For More Information on Neurobiofeedback
A Symphony in the Brain:
The Evolution of the New Brain Wave Biofeedback.
By Jim Robbins
ADD: The 20-Hour Solution
Training Minds to Concentrate and Self-Regulate Naturally Without Medication
By Mark Steinberg, PhD and Siegfried Othmer, PhD