Neurofeedback is a form of EEG biofeedback therapy or brainwave training that measures and helps regulate electrical activity in the brain. Neurofeedback has been available since the 1960s and focuses on normalising the EEG to help improve psychological and physiological functioning. When the brain is not functioning well, evidence of this is often seen by the EEG showing irregular brainwave patterns. With neurofeedback, we give the brain the opportunity to learn and change its brainwave patterns; and as a result, we see improvements in brain function.
Neurofeedback uses advanced technology via visual or auditory feedback to allow individuals to see and train their brainwave activity in real-time. Based on operant conditioning, neurofeedback teaches the brain how to improve its performance and to self-regulate.
Neurofeedback helps the brain learn and change its brainwave patterns. In other words, neurofeedback is neuroplasticity in action!
Over time, repeated neurofeedback training can correct and improve brain functioning for a wide range of emotional, cognitive, behavioural, educational, and neurological problems. Neurofeedback stabilises the brain and depending on the kind of brainwave training it can help a person feel less anxious and more calm and relaxed, or more focused, alert and motivated.
Neurofeedback is a safe, medication-free, and non-invasive process. Individual treatment can be informed by symptoms alone, or by measuring overall brain activity by completing a mini-map or a QEEG. We record and measure the brains activity while it is in resting state (i.e., sitting quietly) or under task conditions (such as reading silently or working out maths equations). This provides information about the four main brainwaves frequencies delta, theta, alpha, beta and shows us if there are irregular brainwave patterns occurring.
During neurofeedback training, one or two sensors are pasted on the head and clips are placed on the earlobes. The sensors read and measure the EEG brainwave activity and send this information via an amplifier to the neurofeedback software. This information is seen by the clinician on one screen as EEG while the person training sees a game or video display that gives close to instantaneous visual feedback on the brain’s performance.
Take a look at this helpful (and succinct) explanation of how neurofeedback works by psychologist Mike Cohen.
Neurofeedback can treat a variety of disorders and difficulties including:
- ADHD & ADD
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Brain injury and stroke
- Chronic fatigue
- Learning disabilities
- Migraines and headaches
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Pain conditions
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Sleep disorders
For more information regarding neurofeedback, a comprehensive bibliography of research can be found here: http://www.isnr.net/resources/comprehensive-bibliography.cfm