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What is Neurofeedback?
- Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, has been studied and practiced since the 1960’s. We refer to it as as exercise for your brain that allows us to see the frequencies produced by different parts of the brain in real-time and then through visual and auditory feedback. The goal is to teach the brain to better regulate itself. Neurofeedback can be used to help detect, stimulate, and/or inhibit activity in the brain safely and without medication. It can help restore a wider “range of motion” in brain states, much like physical therapy does for the body.
- While the clients sits comfortably watching a movie or pictures appear on the screen (a calm and focused state), the EEG equipment will measure the frequency or speed at which electrical activity moves in the areas where electrodes have been placed. The information or biofeedback is then sent to the therapists computer for evaluation. The therapist is then able to determine what frequencies are out of balance. For instance, when the EEG shows that you are making too many ” slow” or delta/theta waves or to many “fast” or high beta waves, the therapist adjusts a reward band to encourage more balanced activity. This encouragement or “reward” happens through visual recognition of the changes on the screen and the auditory reinforcement of “beeps.”
- Its important to understand that Neurofeedback does not “cure” or “fix” anything. We teach and guide your brain to produce frequencies which help it relax and/or focus. We provide the brain with gentle “challenges” and encouragement in a user-friendly, stress-free format so it learns to regulate or shift to healthier states more smoothly on its own at the appropriate time.
How does a “beep” or sound train my brain to work better?
- The auditory or sound reward that corresponds to an increase or decrease in desired brainwave activity is able to affect the brain on a neurological level. Auditory reward stimulates auditory pathways, impacts the vestibular system, and has many connections to the reticular activating system, which modulates wakefulness and attention. These systems operate on an unconscious level in our brains. Therefore, neurofeedback teaches your brain through automated learning with little or no behavioral effort. Another example to understanding this concept is by stating that neurofeedback involves operant conditioning or learning. This type of learning teaches us through a reinforced reward system. The auditory reward (beep) is delivered on a schedule of reinforcement that promotes optimal learning; not too hard and not to easy. This schedule of reinforcement or reward provides just the right amount of resistance to evoke a positive learning pattern.
Why train your brain?
- A persons mental clarity improves when the brain waves are functioning in a more calm and efficient manner. As you learn to slow down “inner chatter” or activate a “sleepy” brain, you become more effective at responding to stress and adapt more readily to different situations, both psychologically and physically. Most clients will report that parenting becomes less exhausting, appointments are more easily kept, decision-making improves, and mood swings and depression often lift.
- Neurofeedback has also proven to be effective with school-aged children who experience focus and learning problems. Through brain training, children will learn to better concentrate on schoolwork, increase their frustration tolerance level, and are less prone to be overwhelmed with sensory overload while seated in a noisy classroom. Therefore, with their thoughts more organized, they can focus more clearly on what others say to them and can begin to develop friendships and learn effectively.
What types of conditions does Neurofeedback help?
Symptoms of these conditions, among others, can improve through Neurofeedback training:
- Seizure Disorders
- Cognitive Decline
- Rages/Mood Swings
- Sleep Disorders
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Auditory/Visual Processing
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Peak Performance
- Learning Disabilities
- Bipolar Disorder
- Chronic Pain/Fibromyalagia
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Reactive Attachment Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
How many sessions are needed to begin seeing results?
- As the brain learns to transition you will see changes. However, everyone learns at different speeds, so it cannot be determined how quickly someone will learn. On average, children take about 10-20 sessions to see changes and we can discuss what to expect during the intake appointment. For adults, changes are usually noticed within 10 sessions. The total treatment is an average of 40 sessions, however we individualize treatment-some people need more and some less.
Neurofeedback and Medication
- As your brain begins to work more efficiently, medications also works better. For those who cannot take or are only marginally responsive to medication, Neurofeedback can offer an alternative or supportive role to drug therapy by stimulating or inhibiting brain activity at the same basic neurological level as medication. In time, people find they are able to reduce the dosages or cease taking some prescription drugs, but only after careful consultation and planning with the prescribing physician. For this reason, Neurofeedback practitioners advocate consistent communication between clients and their physicians during training and encouraging discussion of their Neurofeedback experience with therapists and doctors so accommodations can be made as training progresses.