An Overview of Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback trains the brain to self-regulate and normalize. It is a non-invasive form of therapy that uses the most foundational therapeutic principle of operant conditioning, which is positive feedback for desired behaviors. Using this concept, we are able to create new neuropathways by training brainwave activity to stay within normal, healthy ranges by consistent training, taking advantage of the brain's natural Neuroplasticity—its ability to change itself over one's lifetime.
Neuropathways are naturally formed and reinforced in response to our environment, emotions, thoughts, and even after traumatic brain injury. These pathways can be very normal, functional and healthy or they can be abnormal and cause undesirable symptoms and behaviors.
Our brains are so amazing that we have the ability—through neurofeedback— to intentionally and purposefully create new, more desirable neuropathways or ‘psychological highways’ through consistent training. The more we train a certain neural pathway, the stronger it will become, much like exercising a muscle. Over time, these stronger healthier pathways become the favored ones, and healthy function becomes the “new norm”. For this reason, neurofeedback offers long lasting and permanent change.
Most people report better sleep, decreased anxiety, better focus, and overall better moods. Neurofeedback allows you to be more focused, relaxed and the best version of you.
Many patients report the process to be very relaxing, as there is no “work” involved. The brain is doing all of the work for you as you sit and watch a movie for example. Over the course of treatment, your brain will learn to remember these normal ranges of activity and will memorize them. This process often completely eliminates symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, depression, attention issues (ADD/ADHD), and replaces them with increased motivation, stable moods, better focus, and better overall performance in school and work. This process allows for the brain to rewire itself over time. Permanently.
In order to understand how Neurofeedback works we first need to understand how the brain works. The systems that govern the human brain are the most complex and compact on earth.
Different parts of the brain talk to each other by transmitting electrical signals along neurons that connect one area of the brain to another. The electrical signals are expressed as brain waves. This communication allows to brains to function in an optimal state.
When a patient is exhibiting undesirable symptoms often associated with conditions such as ADHD, anxiety and depression, it's usually because the brain's signal messaging needs to be corrected, The corrections are achieved by Neurofeedback, creating the desired state change in the brain. Permanent brain changes are possible because of a brain plasticity, or Neuroplasticity - the brain's ability to change throughout life.
The key concept behind neuroplasticity is “neurons that fire together wire together”.
The idea is that when two neurons fire together in the brain at the same time, neurons become associated with one another, and the neuronal connections become stronger. Neurofeedback therapy helps to both regulate brainwave patterns to a more desirable balanced state as well as assists in the process of neuroplastic change.
Quantitative electroencephalography—or QEEG— brain mapping allows our neurofeedback specialists to gather baseline data of the client's brain activity in certain parts of the brain. Data is gathered from 19 sites on the head via painless, non-invasive sensors which are able to read the different levels of brain activity, translating it into a QEEG brain map, specific to the individual patient.
We can see what is actually happening inside the brain for a truly accurate insight of what is creating the issues. From this baseline we can customize a treatment program for maximum results, and conduct further QEEG brain mapping at specific intervals to assess how the brain is responding to the treatment.
The Brain Retraining Process
Based upon the patient’s specific QEEG brain map, a treatment protocol is chosen. During the training sessions, patients have sensors placed on their head at the specific sites that have been identified as needing to change. While viewing a video/DVD of choice, patients must maintain the brainwave states as defined by the neurofeedback specialist in order to keep the video from fading. This is referred to as operant conditioning. When the brainwaves fall into the specific parameters chosen to create the desired behavioral changes, the screen brightens, and when the brainwaves move beyond the parameters, the screen darkens. Only when the brainwaves being generated are in the desired state can the patient watch the movie, therefore training the brain to maintain that state. A feedback loop is created, reinforcing positive shifts in brainwave activity time and time again, creating new, permanent, neuropathways.
During Neurofeedback training, external sensors are placed on the head at specific sites to measure brainwave activity. The patient receives visual cues to inform them when they are exhibiting the desired brainwaves.
Neurofeedback is an effective alternative to the powerful medications often prescribed for complex disorders such as ADHD and anxiety. Neurofeedback can provide symptom relief without drugs.
Unlike medication, which stops being effective when the medication stops being taken, Neurofeedback reinforces positive changes in brain wave activity, creating permanent changes in the brainwaves.