By definition neurofeedback is the training of the brain’s functions on a direct basis, thereby stimulating the brain itself to function more quickly and efficiently. Essentially Neurofeedback is related to biofeedback, which is a way to measure a person’s emotional or mental state by watching and recording their body temperature, skin color or lack thereof, heart rate, brain waves, blood pressure, and other bodily responses. Neurofeedback will uncover the same information, as well as allowing the brain and its functions to actually be mapped out, making treatment even more individualised and focused.
Neurofeedback training differs from other neuro-modulatory methods such as audio-visual entrainment (AVE) (For example Mind Alive products) or transcranial magnetic stimulation that work by provoking an automatic brain response by presenting a specific signal.
There are several neurofeedback treatment methods which can be effectively used, and an assessment process may be used to determine which form of neurofeedback is going to be most effective for the individual, once the process of assessment is complete an appropriate form of neurofeedback can be chosen.
Neurofeedback is a safe, effective treatment for the symptoms of traumatic brain injury, concussion, ADHD, anxiety or panic disorder, and insomnia or other sleep issues. Neurofeedback has also been successfully implemented in the treatment of stroke symptoms. It has also been applied effectively in improving cognitive performance to meet educational goals in reading and math disabilities, as well as help maximise the performance of athletes, artists and executives. Lasting changes have been noted.
Those implementing neurofeedback therapy professionally are extensively trained and attend neurofeedback training seminars regularly to learn even more about how to fine tune and individualise neurofeedback treatments effectively.
How does neurofeedback work?
To put it as simply as possible we cannot change problem areas of any kind unless we are able to recognise what needs to be changed or worked on. The brain is one of the things we simple couldn’t observe as needed to know what to do to begin to improve its functions. Neurofeedback works by placing ‘sensors’ on the head and scalp which give immediate visual and audio information regarding how your brain is functioning at that precise moment. Any trouble areas or signs of weakness in its functions are interpreted clearly by use of neurofeedback, which allows issues to be identified properly and treated correctly.
At the cellular level, neurofeedback works by teaching the brain to modulate the excitatory and inhibitory patterns of specific neuronal assemblies and pathways based upon the information coming from the sensors and the feedback algorithms used in the design of the neurofeedback, thereby increasing cognitive flexbility and self regulation of relaxation and activation patterns.
The objective of neurofeedback therapy is to decrease brainwaves which pose specific problems while increasing the flow of beneficial waves. As neurofeedback treatments are regularly implemented the brain will begin to ‘clean out its closet’, so to speak, getting things back in order, and as it works to do this it becomes stronger, more resilient, and more fluid in its functions. Neurofeedback is not a method of treatment which is done one time; this is an ongoing method of treating and strengthening the brain which has suffered trauma or is prone to anxiety or other major issues.
Neurofeedback is an operant conditioning tool, so it retrains the brain to act in a different way, or the way its intended. The brain tends to regulate itself via homeostasis so this is not difficult. This also means neurofeedback is exceptionally powerful over time and should be studied intensely by either the practitioner or the user before embarking with it. The great thing about neurofeedback is it’s non invasive and there is no surgery or deep stimulation involved.
(There are multiple viewpoints on how neurofeedback may work, another viewpoint is that the neurofeedback is a kind of complex brain exercise – in which the brain learns detailed information about itself and it responds complexly and dynamically to change it’s patterning more adaptively, ultimately remodelling through self regulation. The TagSync protocol may be a method that is the evolution and application of this theory of neurofeedback)
Specific Diagnoses & Therapeutic Applications
Neurofeedback is being successfully used to treat a number of various diagnoses and their accompanying symptoms. This is done by neurofeedback regulating those irregular brain waves. Here are just some of the conditions which are being effectively treated with neurofeedback:
1. ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyper-activity Disorder)
ADHD neurofeedback treatment has shown to be highly effective in assisting the patient to effectively slow and organize their thoughts, identify emotions and learn controlled responses to them, and give them the ability to focus their attention on one topic at a time thereby improving their learning capacity and productivity.
Even in patients whose stroke took place years ago significant improvements were made in areas of speech, muscle strength and mass, memory, motor function, and even areas which had atrophied for years were beginning to function after approximately 10 treatments.
Neurofeedback has been proven to effectively stimulate the brain to begin repairing the areas which temper the mood and give us the ability to make proper judgment calls regarding behavior. Those with anxiety are much calmer and are able to deal with stress almost immediately with consistent treatment. Patients with depression have demonstrated incredible improvement in mood and their ability to function properly in day to day life, and individuals suffering from PTSD develop a calm demeanor, sleep better with fewer to no nightmares, and their ability to react to emotions is much more controlled, improving with continued treatment as well.
4. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Concussion
Patients experience an improved ability to fall asleep and maintain a good sleep level, stabilized moods, an improved ability to control their own behavior and emotional responses, improved speech and motor functions, and improved thought processes all the way around. Neurofeedback or neural feedback has also been proven extremely effective even several years after the injury has taken place.
What do I need and how do I get started with neurofeedback therapy?
The first thing that should be done is the patient should schedule an professional initial consultation. The Better Brain Center – Neurotherapy & Brain Enhancement will be happy to schedule a 50 minute professional consultation, or you can find other professionals who will conduct your assessment. This is necessary to determine if you are an ideal candidate for neurofeedback therapy or if another form of related therapy would be of more benefit in your case. Even though there no substantial or founded negative neurofeedback side effects have been reported there are a number of factors which must be considered before assigning treatment.
Once you have discovered you are a candidate for this therapy you have a number of options available to you for treatment; you will be treated with only the very best state-of-the-art neurofeedback equipment and neurofeedback machines. The following therapy methods come highly recommended:
Professionally administered neurofeedback therapy treatments
Normally neurofeedback therapy is administered by a trained professional on a once-a-week basis. This involves an office visit which consists of application of the sensors to identify and regulate the brain’s electrical flow. This process is ongoing, so it should not be looked upon as a quick fix; you must be diligent and consistent in the treatment process.
You may be asking yourself, “How much does neurofeedback cost?” While fees can greatly vary the average cost for one session will run around $150. Typically a minimum of 30 to 40 sessions are recommended, sometimes results of neurofeedback are instant, sometimes they may take 20 sessions and more.
If you have insurance coverage neurofeedback may be covered if you are referred by your primary healthcare provider or approved specialist. Any neurofeedback therapy provider will be more than willing to assist your insurance paperwork or to find out if the therapy is covered by your carrier.
Self-administered neurofeedback treatments
Some individuals are not willing or able to pay the fees associated with professional neurofeedback therapy sessions, and in these cases many will purchase their own neurofeedback machine or other neurofeedback equipment and administer the treatment themselves. While this is not recommended by professional therapists one can acquire the education they need by attending neurofeedback training and training seminars in order to use their equipment safely and effectively.
Self administrating also allows practitioners to try out innovative neurofeedback sessions not yet adopted widely by the traditional industry such as tagsync. A revolutionary procedure that trains the mind to be in full synchrony with the optimal cellular function of neurones that construct life.
You can purchase neurofeedback equipment and software from a variety of companies for home use. Companies of high repute offering excellent equipment and very effective downloadable designs for use include mindspeak.com, brainmaster.com, and bioexplorer.com, but there are many others. You can also take neurofeedback training online via sites such as neurofeedbackny.com/training-at-home/ as well as through other training sites.
The most affordable neurofeedback equipment available at the moment comes from Pocket Neurobics and the Q-Wiz with bioexplorer does biofeedback and neurofeedback with as much functionality as many professional suites.
Neurofeedback Therapy Safety & Side Effects
As stated briefly above there have been no significant side effects reported that were able to be substantiated. There is no pain associated with the treatments; they are completely non-invasive in nature. When administered by a properly trained individual or professional neurofeedback therapy is completely safe and amazingly effective.
Minor issues include headaches and disorientation from over training. Neurofeedback takes time and sessions should be limited to a session a day. Misuse of neurofeedback can also lead the brain to modulate to undesirable characteristics. One must consider carefully which parts of their brain they wish to augment and to progress cautiously keeping tight journals on how they feel.
Safety issues include making sure there is electrical safety. User should maintain an electrical isolation barrier between the user connected to the EEG device, and the device to which the EEG is connected. When something goes wrong the mains voltage is likely to go through the path of least resistance which is usually the subject’s body/
Neurofeedback Therapy: Essential Reading
It is vital that you learn all you can about neurofeedback if you are considering it on any level, and especially if you are implementing it into your plan of recovery. For in-depth information which will solidify your neurofeedback training and knowledge base check into the following:
The Clinical Handbook of Biofeedback: A Step-by-Step Guide for Training and Practice with Mindfulness
by Inna Z. Khazan
Getting Started with Neurofeedback (Norton Professional Books)
by John N. Demos
Biofeedback 3rd Edition: A Practitioner’s Guide
by Mark S. Schwartz
If you believe you may be a candidate for neurofeedback therapy contact one of the resources listed above to receive a consultation. You may find that you don’t have to accept a number of symptoms you thought you would have to live with for the rest of your life. Find out what you can do to rebuild and strengthen your brain using neurofeedback therapy by doing more research online or calling professionals.
– The Bionic Hacker