Neurofeedback 101: What Do You Need to Know?

Neural pathways, made up of neurons connected by dendrites, are developed in the brain and are determined by our behavior. The more frequent a behavior, the greater number of dendrites created. Think of these neural pathways as roads in our brain. Our brain cells communicate in a process called “neural firing.” The more our brain cells communicate, the more their connection strengthens, eventually creating automatic behaviors. Walking, reading, and riding a bike are examples of complex behaviors that we do automatically because neural pathways were formed. Just because a neural pathway has formed doesn’t mean we’re stuck with the habit forever. As we perform new activities, we are training our brains to create new pathways. And just like riding a bike, the pathways get stronger with repetition until the behavior is a habit. 

You Can Train Your Brain 

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive therapy that uses operant conditioning — providing positive feedback for good behavior. Doing so creates new neural pathways by taking advantage of the brain’s natural neuroplasticity (its ability to change itself over time). Our thoughts and emotions are responses to our environment; some are normal and healthy, while others can be abnormal with undesired symptoms and behaviors. This is where neurofeedback can help: it retrains the brain to self-regulate and normalize by creating intentional and purposeful pathways. These pathways become stronger with more training, and over time, the desired pathways become permanent ones. 

The Process 

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback where patients learn self-control of their brain functions by measuring brain waves and then feedback. The goal is for patients to control their brain waves consciously. The brain is observed in action. This observance is shown to the patient, and then the brain is rewarded for changing its undesired routine for a more appropriate one. This, of course, is a gradual process.  

Neurofeedback is also called EEG Biofeedback because an electroencephalography (EEG) is recorded during the treatment. Then its various components are extracted and shown back to patients using a feedback loop in the form of audio, video, or both. Only when your brainwaves are functioning properly do they receive the stimuli — music or video, for example. This acts as a reward for your brain. You’ll receive negative feedback (the stimuli with stop) when your brainwaves do not function within an optimal range. This communicates to your brain that it needs to figure out how to make the stimuli return. Neurofeedback is training in self-regulation, an integral part of healthy brain function. Self-regulation training allows the central nervous system to function better. 

Benefits 

Neurofeedback eliminates many problems such as insomnia, anxiety, headaches and migraines, focusing issues (such as ADD and ADHD), brain trauma, and depression. Depression, for example, is a complex issue, and it can be difficult for doctors to pinpoint the exact cause. In some cases, causality is obvious while not so in others, making it difficult to treat properly. However, Neurofeedback improves the parasympathetic nervous system while slowing blood pressure and heart rate, reducing depression symptoms over time.  

Neurofeedback doesn’t just address problems; it provides a multitude of benefits as well. Patients attest to better sleep, focus, motivation, mood, and performance in school or work after treatments. This painless procedure teaches you how to help yourself while decreasing reliance on medication or the need for it altogether. Relief can be found in knowing you can avoid the potential side effects of some medications. And unlike medication that becomes ineffective once it is no longer taken, neurofeedback creates permanent, positive changes.  

How Can Oklahoma Neurofeedback Specialists Help? 

Let Oklahoma Neurofeedback Specialists help you create the best version of yourself. We strive to understand our patients and treat them as a whole. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and learn more about creating a customized program for your specific needs.

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