What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback (NFB) is a passive technique intended to teach self-regulation of our mind. Mental health challenges can typically be attributed to a loss in our central nervous system (CNS) regulation. The objective of NFB therapy is to stabilize the CNS (i.e. The Brain) , allowing it to work with better ease and efficiency. When the brain is in a balanced and healthy state it is able to perform more optimally, resulting in better mood, heightened awareness, higher retention of information, and improved learning capacity. NFB has been demonstrated in peer reviewed scientific and medical journals to benefit clients suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, memory impairment, traumatic brain injury, attention disorders, epilepsy, and substance abuse, to name a few.
How Does Neurofeedback Work?
NFB works by taking advantage of an old mechanism our brain uses for learning. One of the ways in which we learn is through a process known as “Operant Conditioning”. This process involves learning of behavior through reward and reinforcement (continued exposure to a reward). Think about your first job, and how you soon learned that one behavior would get you more acknowledgment for your performance and when you were acting a different way you would receive less praise. Eventually you would behave in a manner which would get you more recognition because this may lead to greater promotion opportunity. This is a real world example of operant conditioning; you were rewarded for one behavior and thus continue performing accordingly to achieve more reward. In NFB the behavior we are attempting to change is of the brain itself. We are able to monitor the behavior of the brain using the technology of EEG (Electroencephalography), which reports brain activity in the form of “Brain Waves”. These brain waves have been investigated for their relationship to mental health and brain performance. As brain activity reaches optimal performance benchmarks (as monitored by EEG) the program will tell the client using subtle cues, either visual or audio, their achievement. Over many trials of receiving positive reinforcement for improved brain activity, the nervous system is able to maintain this performance and downstream behavior emotional,and cognitive improvement can be measured.
What’s The Catch?
NFB is an emerging field of wide implication in psychology and counseling services, however it is important to consider the realistic expectation of this therapy. The most significant pitfall is the amount of time needed for NFB to be effective. Many groups around the world report treatment can last 40+ sessions. This is because of the subtle passivity of the therapy, there is NO ELECTRICAL stimulation, this is purely a learned change. NFB although can have dramatically positive outcomes for clients, it is not a drug, and you will not feel very different after completing therapy. Instead, you may notice your processing and cognitive abilities to be slightly more improved. Accumulating these responses will become more detectable, but it is a slow and steady process. Side effects have been very under reported with NFB training. Very few publications have indicated adverse reactions, most notably is fatigue and drowsiness, this is training after-all. It is important to establish obtainable goals with your therapist prior to beginning therapy, to ensure realistic expectations can be met by this approach.
Who Should Perform Neurofeedback?
For adults, Neurofeedback can offer similar benefits from those mentioned above, but particularly we tend to find anxiety spectrum condtions are greatly influenced by self-regulation techniques.
Neurofeedback can be particularly helpful to the aging brain. As we age our brain can often decline in strength, decreasing the efficiency of messages passed through our extensive cable system. Through rewarding of specific signatures of our brains EEG, we can encourage a "Brighter Brain". Studies have found that by rewarding a particular EEG signature, adults improve elements of working and spatial memory performance.
Peak performance is a strategy to improve your brains performance to a higher level of efficiency. Consider the professional golfer who has swung his/her club a million times. The mechanics of his/her motion should be virtually flawless and almost all shots should be on point with limited deviation. So why in the middle of the tournament when the going get tough are their shots significantly off the mark?
BLAME THE BRAIN. you see the brain works much like a highly specialized freeway system, in which information can get from one place to the other quickest when the freeway roads are clear. Well in the case of high demand mental sports, many cars and trucks are on the road, clogging up the transmission of the brain. When this happens, all the automated processes of the professional golfer begin to be disrupted by these obsessive thoughts and worry, or possibly that inner voice which is spending some of the mental economy currency you have available at any given time. Bring on the Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback can be used to help reallocate precious brain resources during high stress situations, such as stepping up to take the big shot.
ADHD, Learning Disabilities
Age-related cognitive decline
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Traumatic Brain Injury
For more information or to schedule an appointment. Call to ask to speak with a Neurofeedback Representative
(702) 451 7542