What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback, also called EEG Biofeedback, is a method of brain training utilizing computer and electroencephalographic technology to help individuals perform optimally and reduce undesirable symptoms.
As groups of brain cells fire, subtle electrical waves are produced which are measurable at the surface of the scalp with EEG sensors. The brain has been shown to produce more or less of particular wavelengths when engaged in various activities. For example, when individuals are focused, they produce more intense higher frequency waves, categorized as beta waves (15-38 cycles per second), than when relaxed. Alternately, in a relaxed state, alpha waves (8-14 cycles per second) are produced at a greater intensity, in general. When falling asleep, slower wavelengths are increasingly produced.
It is apparent that humans require the ability to transition to and from various mental states to perform specific tasks many times throughout the day. These states correspond to the production of particular EEG wavelengths. Problems in the form of unwanted symptoms occur when the brain becomes “stuck” in a particular state, observed in depression (often observed as an imbalance of excessive slow-wave activity), stress and anxiety (disproportionate fast-wave activity), for example. Healthy brains retain the ability to flexibly move from state to state when called upon to do so. Neurofeedback can train the brain towards increased flexibility and reduced “stuckness.”
Healthy brains also exhibit traits of resilience, that is, the ability to ‘bounce back’ from difficult life circumstances, lack of sleep, and exposure to harmful substances. Neurofeedback can also train the brain to become more resilient against neurological consequences associated with the above.
Who can benefit from neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback has been shown to decrease and eliminate symptoms of:
o Trauma and PTSD
o Racing thoughts
o Sleep disorder
o Attention deficits and AD(H)D
o Headaches and pain
It is a non-invasive alternative to those who react adversely or fail to respond to mainstream treatments or those who prefer self-regulatory intervention.
Neurofeedback is particularly appropriate for those who have not responded well to pharmaceutical interventions, who have experienced unwanted side effects resulting from medication use, who are pregnant and therefore do not want to take medication, or who would prefer a non-chemical intervention. Neurofeedback recruits the brain’s own neuroplastic mechanisms, essentially training it to function more adaptively. Similar to learning anything new, the effects of training are sustained such that approximately 12 – 20 sessions on average is all that is required.
Neurofeedback can restore optimal sleep-wake cycles, stabilize emotions, and reduce cravings. As the brain is returned to optimal functioning, becoming increasingly adaptive and resilient, symptoms are reduced.
Because neurofeedback trains the brain towards optimal functioning, this procedure is useful for a wide variety of individuals looking to increase their performance in sports, at work, academics, or general quality of life.
What is neurofeedback training like?
During a training session, clients sit in a comfortable chair facing a monitor, watching a movie or listening to music while shapes and images move onscreen. Sensors applied to the scalp receive electrical information produced by the brain. No electricity is delivered to the brain. Feedback in the form of short, subtle pauses in the audio and video streams provide real-time information to the brain about its own activities, which it then uses to make adjustments and corrections. The brain’s adaptive and self-regulatory mechanisms utilize the feedback without any conscious activity by the client.
Play the video below for a clear introduction to neurofeedback
Further information and research articles pertaining to neurofeedback and our approach may be found at:
The Zengar Institute
The Journal of Neurotherapy
EEG & Clinical Neuroscience Society
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