What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback (also known as EEG Biofeedback, Neurotherapy),
therapists attach sensors to patients' scalps.
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.
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.
What are brain wave
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.
- 8 and 12 Hz - characterized by calm, relaxed and
meditative feelings, day dreaming and unfocused thought
-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.
-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.
-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
How do you
know which area to train?
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.
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
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
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.
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
sessions will my child need and how often do I have to come
in for training?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Is Neurofeedback right for you or your child?
Neurofeedback is a learning
process; therefore results are seen gradually over time.
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: