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What is Neurofeedback? 

In Neurofeedback (also known as EEG Biofeedback, Neurotherapy), therapists attach sensors to patients' scalps. Through these sensors, the device measures electrical impulses in the brain, amplifies them and then records them on the computer screen. These electrical impulses are divided into different types of brain waves; delta, theta, alpha and beta that are proportional to EEG measures such as amplitude, correlation, and symmetry.

In order to pay attention to a task, parts of the child's brain must produce more high-frequency beta waves. Using programs similar to computer games (only without a mouse or joystick), children learn to control the video display by achieving the mental state that produces increases in the desired brain wave. This is just one way to monitor, measure and help train patients to become aware of the their physiological processes. There are no medications and the whole process is natural and involves no pain or discomfort.
 

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What are brain wave frequencies?

Frequency refers to the rate at which a brainwave repeats its cycle within one second. The number of cycles per second is called "hertz" (Hz). The more times a brainwave repeats its cycle per second, the FASTER it is said to be. All sites of the brain show all frequencies of activity, however, the amount of a particular frequency that is desirable depends on where it is located in the brain. Some practitioners divide the frequency of brainwaves into categories of brainwaves. A healthy person will shift through the different states dependant upon the task-at-hand. Different activities require different brainwave states.

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ALPHA - 8 and 12 Hz - characterized by calm, relaxed and meditative feelings, day dreaming and unfocused thought

BETA -12-36 Hz. – is the fastest and most active form of brainwave, and is associated with focus and concentration. It dominates our normal waking state, has been subdivided into SMR (12-15 Hz), beta (15-18 Hz) and high beta (19-36 Hz). SMR is characterized as a relaxed, but alert state. High beta (>19 Hz) may be described as a hyper-alert state, sometimes leading to tension, anxiety and agitation.

THETA -3.5 to 7.5 Hz. -waves are also slow waves, and are often associated with twilight states such as that between sleep and wakefulness. It is abnormal in awake adults and pre-dominant in children with ADD/ADHD.

DELTA -3 Hz. or below - waves occur primarily during sleep, however, they are also present to various degrees throughout normal brains when awake. Tends to be the highest in amplitude.

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How do you know which area to train? 

HomeTrg3Swd.jpgBrainwave training protocols are designed to enhance brain function by increasing the brain's production of "situationally healthy" brainwaves and decreasing the presence of "situationally unhealthy" waves. Training protocols affect a combination of signals, depending upon therapy goals and any brainwave dysregulation that may be present. There are specific protocols appropriate for different problems, but each protocol is individually designed to fit the person.

 

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What are the clinical applications?

Neurofeedback is used to enhance overall brain function. You have the potential to improve work or school performance, learning ability, self-esteem and overall social behavior by affecting arousal, attentional processes, mood and overall functional regulation.

Although not designed as a specific treatment for a specific problem, there is a significant body of research and an abundance of case studies documenting its effectiveness for the following conditions:

  • ADD/ADHD

  • Addiction

  • AnxietyUsing neurofeedback in session

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Chronic Pain

  • Conduct Disorder

  • Chronic Fatigue

  • Depression

  • Learning Problems

  • Migraines

  • NVLD

  • Obsessions/Compulsions

  • Performance Enhancement

  • PTSD

  • Sleep Disorders

  • Stroke

  • Tic Disorder

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

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How does Neurofeedback work?

Neurofeedback is a painless and non-invasive procedure. After a thorough evaluation, treatment begins. Sensors are placed on the scalp and ear. Brain waves are recorded, amplified and sent to a computer that processes the signal and provides the proper feedback. Feedback about brain activity is given to the trainee, typically by means of a “video game”. The trainee is simply asked to, “Play the video game with his brain”. The equipment does not send any information into your brain; the equipment only reads the electrical signals from your brain and gives you feedback. As desirable brain wave frequency increases, the video game responds. The brain responds to the information given and gradually develops alternative brainwave patterns. In other words, with repeated exposure to this form of feedback, that is both visual and auditory, the brain begins to recognize a relationship between its own activity and what it is observing on the computer monitor. And more simply, the brain begins to recognize itself. This is when learning begins to take place. Once this new learning is consolidated, the new pattern of regulation stabilizes and the changes appear to last.

Learning may be looked at in three ways: subconscious learning, the forming of a conscious association between feelings and brain states, and the development of flexibility in neural pathways. Subconscious learning occurs in a process whereby the brain, at a level below awareness, begins to recognize itself on the computer monitor and to make the changes required to keep the bar above the high jump. This learning process occurs over time and outside the level of conscious awareness. The second way that learning occurs is through the conscious association between indications that the target is being met (i.e. the visual and auditory cues) and how the individual feels. In this way, individuals are able to voluntarily do what is necessary in order to produce that sensation at will. Finally, change through neurofeedback occurs as a result of exercising underdeveloped neural pathways. The more the brain practices moving into a more optimal state, the more flexible it will be in responding to demands.

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How many sessions will my child need and how often do I have to come in for training?

How many sessions one needs is determined in the clinical assessment. Individuals typically need anywhere from 20 to 120 sessions, with somewhere in the middle being most common.

Clients have to come in a minimum of two times a week. It is recommended that a client come in as much as they can when beginning the process (three to seven times a week for the first month) in order to jump start the process. Sessions last approximately 30 minutes.

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Are there side effects in treatment?

Neurofeedback, used by qualified practitioners, is largely free of side effects. Possible side effects that may occur are managed as they come up, by making slight changes to the way in which treatment is delivered. Training may affect the body’s response to medications for the condition and for unrelated conditions, so it is necessary to consult with your physician/psychiatrist.

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Is the treatment permanent?

Since Neurofeedback is a learning process, no re-training is required once advances have been made unless trauma occurs, some type of life experience, or use of a substance compromises gains that have been made.

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What is the difference between Neurofeedback and Biofeedback?

There is a fundamental difference between traditional instrumented biofeedback and the more recently developed Neurofeedback. Biofeedback helps us learn to take conscious control of our internal terrain for better management of stress and stress-related health problems. With neurofeedback, however, it is not "us" that learns the new behavior: It is our brain. Just as "we" learned to walk and ride a bike, all "we" have to do is go through the motions. (In this case, sit with electrodes on our head and play a video game or watch a video.) Our brain quickly and easily learns what it needs to do to perform complex tasks in a better and more efficient way. 

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Is Neurofeedback right for you or your child?

Neurofeedback is a learning process; therefore results are seen gradually over time. For most conditions, initial progress can be seen within a few sessions. The goal is to receive enough training to ensure consistent and lasting benefits. Dr. Roseann will discuss with you specific recommendations about how many sessions your child will need. It is important to realize that most individuals need at least 15 to 20 sessions to see a noticeable improvement in symptoms. The commitment of time and effort is needed to see the full potential of neurofeedback as a healthy alternative to other forms of treatment that are more invasive.

After more than 30 years of research and clinical use, no known lasting adverse affects have been reported.
 

Neurofeedback Research Links:

www.eeginfo.com/research

http://www.isnr.org/information/index.cfm

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