Neurofeedback therapy is also known as EEG neurofeedback or EEG biofeedback. This approach can heal a person's brain. When used alongside psychotherapy — which heals the mind — you may see more success. While neurofeedback therapy is adaptable and useful in many situations, it does require a great deal of expertise to perform and may not be suggested to use with some people. Neurofeedback therapy, also called neurofeedback, is considered to be psychophysiology, which is the study of the relationship between the physical and mental processes or how the body and mind interact.
Some of the experts who work in this field include psychologists, physicians, neurologists, biochemists, and other scientists. Some of the disorders that are related to psychophysiology include those that have physical symptoms partially caused by emotional factors. Examples are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, addiction, phobias, depression, chronic pain, memory problems, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), seizure disorders, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, sleep disorders, and many more.
Your brain determines everything you do and feel, and although most individuals have perfectly normal brain function, they may still have some brain imbalances or emotional imbalances that can affect their daily routine and feelings. Neurofeedback therapy trains your brainwaves to do what they are supposed to do but to understand this; you have to know a bit about your brainwaves and how they affect everything you do and feel.
The nervous system is a two-part system which includes the central (the brain and the spinal cord) and peripheral nervous system, which in turn, includes your autonomic nervous system (the circulation, heartbeat, digestion, etc.). Your brainwaves are small electrical impulses that are produced as the cells in your brain communicate with each other. They can tell the doctor or therapist a plethora of information about how you function daily and how you feel, including your mood, stress level, thought habits, and your overall brain function.
By putting sensors on the scalp, the therapist can monitor and measure your brain activity and use brain analysis software to find and identify specific activities that are giving you the negative symptoms you have been having. For example, anxiety, depression, insomnia, or addiction. After the area of concern is found, the therapist can build a specific training plan to pull your brain back into a more comfortable and efficient state. That is what neurofeedback therapy does.
When having a neurofeedback therapy session, the therapist compares what your brainwaves are doing compared to what you want it to be doing. As the brainwaves enter a preferred state, you will be rewarded with a positive image on a computer screen such as a movie or a video game. The images and sounds you see will immediately let you know that your brainwaves are doing the right thing because they only turn on when you are in the desired state and will stop when your brainwaves cause your brain to go in the opposite direction.
People often ask the following questions about this topic:
In doing this, neurofeedback therapy teaches your brainwaves what they should be doing rather than what they have been doing. Similar to doing physical exercise to build certain muscles, the more you exercise your brain into the preferred spot, the more it will be able to reach that spot. For instance, if you have been having trouble falling asleep and cannot concentrate or focus during the day, neurofeedback therapy can look at your brainwaves and determine what is causing the problem. Once the software reads the brainwaves, neurofeedback therapy will produce a brain map that the therapist can read and see what may be troubling you. Then they will devise a plan for you using your favorite movie or game.
During your neurofeedback therapy session, you will be hooked up to the brainwave monitor and the computer so that when your brain starts to push the brainwaves in the right position, your movie or game will start. When your brain goes the opposite direction, the movie or game will go dark. After some time, your brain will start catching on and get better at it, so the therapist will make it harder so your brain will get even better at it. Similar to lifting weights, once you can lift a certain amount, you add more weight to continue building your muscles.
Neurofeedback therapy is a form of biofeedback that lets you regulate your brain function on your own by using mental stimulation and strategies. The idea is to increase the brain's efficiency and teach the brain how to keep the brainwaves flowing in the right direction. There are several different types of neurofeedback therapy for certain disorders. With the help of the software, the therapist can build a treatment to train your brain for your issues. The different types include:
There are also different treatment procedures or protocols that are used to target certain areas of the brain for specific symptoms or problems. They include:
Your brain's alpha waves are linked to relaxation and feelings of calmness but are also important to focus and alertness. It will relax your muscles and let you sleep when needed but will help improve your mental health while awake. This is the preferred treatment for brain injuries, problems with memory, mental performance issues, anxiety disorders, and chronic pain.
Your beta waves are used in mental performance and have to be used with care because there may be side effects if not used correctly. This type of procedure is commonly used to treat anxiety, anger issues, epilepsy, addiction, insomnia, learning disabilities, and trouble focusing or paying attention.
The alpha-theta waves control anxiety and stress. This is the most commonly used procedure for anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It can also be used for addiction, trauma, and depression.
Your delta waves are associated with your deep sleep cycles and are the slowest brain waves you have. Delta wave treatment is typically used for treating migraines and other severe headaches, learning disorders, brain injuries, insomnia, and generalized pain disorders.
Your gamma waves are linked to your cognitive memory and learning abilities. Strengthening and speeding up these waves can help with memory issues, problem-solving, migraines, information processing, organization, calculation, mental sharpness, and cognitive thinking.
The theta brain waves are those that are used for hypnosis, sleep, meditation, creativity, emotions, and memory. Some of the conditions treated with theta wave are ADHD, emotional disorders, inability to focus, depression, and anxiety disorders.
Some individuals who are living with serious psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, uncontrolled bipolar disorder, or psychosis can have adverse effects neurofeedback therapy if not used correctly. Also, those with epilepsy or other seizure disorders should only get this treatment from a qualified neurofeedback specialist or doctor. In cases where the patient has not disclosed that they had previously had seizures, the treatment has been known to trigger a seizure. That is why it is important to be completely honest with the therapist or doctor.
As long as the therapist or doctor is trained in neurofeedback therapy, it is safe for children. In fact, neurofeedback therapy has been especially effective in treating learning disorders, speech disorders, developmental disorders, ADHD, autism, Asperger's syndrome, OCD, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and brain injuries. Many types of neurofeedback therapy have been proven to increase the ability of a child to self-regulate and improves cortical functioning. However, just as with adults, neurofeedback therapy should only be used with extreme caution by a licensed and trained neurofeedback specialist if the child has epilepsy or a severe psychiatric illness.
Just as with any kind of treatment like this, there can be side effects. Some of the studies have shown that neurofeedback therapy may be connected to increased depression, mood swings, seizures, panic attacks, chronic fatigue, nausea, mania, and increased agitation or anxiety. However, it is thought that in most or all of these incidences, the side effects were caused by the lack of experience or skill in using neurofeedback therapy. Before proceeding with any treatment it is good to research and discuss options with reputable providers.
What is Neurofeedback therapy used for?
Neurofeedback training is a type of treatment that helps the brain by changing the amplitude or speed of specific brainwave activity. Training sessions for neurofeedback therapy typically use two to four electrodes and are used to treat brainwave patterns associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and even insomnia.
Can I do neurofeedback therapy at home?
In short, yes, neurofeedback therapy and treatment can be done at home, but the devices available are not easy to get a hold of. However, the devices used for at-home treatment don’t require a remote trainer. This is just as safe as going to a provider and can have the same beneficial effects on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or alternate issues stemming from sensorimotor rhythm waves, alpha waves, or general electrical activity. If you believe at-home neurofeedback therapy and treatment is something you would like to pursue, find a provider near you who can connect you with at-home equipment. Those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, those living with autism, or those trying to treat extremely serious forms of disorders and conditions may see better results by working in-person with a provider instead of at home.
How quickly does neurofeedback therapy work?
Results from this treatment can vary in terms of time, but initial progress is typically seen within 15 sessions. Most treatment programs targeting alpha waves, frequency bands, sensorimotor rhythm waves, beta waves, or general electrical activity will consist of somewhere between 20 and 60 sessions, with an average of 40. Unlike alternate forms of treatment, this treatment is a non-invasive and gradual acting form of help. With that said, the benefits of this form of treatment on children with adhd symptoms, or adults, those who have insomnia, those with extreme stress, and more can see benefits. Additionally, those who have suffered a brain injury previously have tested this treatment, and research is still being done into how this can truly help those with learning disabilities or those trying to restore brain functionality, such as problem solving, after an accident.
Does neurofeedback therapy really work for anxiety?
Based on new studies, research has shown that when compared to no treatment at all, neurofeedback treatment on the alpha waves, sensorimotor rhythm waves, beta waves, and alternate areas of electrical activity in the brain can have beneficial impacts on generalized anxiety disorder. This treatment is still being researched, but early data suggests that this non-invasive style of treatment can gradually benefit those with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or potentially some on the autism spectrum. Neurofeedback treatment training sessions occur over a long span of time and can gradually treat these conditions. Find a provider near you if you believe this treatment can help with your brain injury, condition, or alternate cause.
What happens during a neurofeedback session?
In a treatment session, you will sit comfortably in a chair while two or three electrodes are attached to your scalp. These sensors will read input from alpha waves, frequency bands, sensorimotor rhythm waves, and more. This data will be transmitted to a computer to be interpreted. The goal is to see ideal eeg neurofeedback based on certain inputs. In essence, this treatment is about training the brain and any waves, such as sensorimotor rhythm waves, or frequency bands to have an ideal response at seeing certain information. Additionally, this trains the brain to recognize what it needs to do to see positive feedback instead of negative feedback. In a medical sense, this can help with general problem solving, optimal performance of the brain, and more. Additionally, it is used to treat those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and any adhd symptoms that a person may have.
How many sessions are needed for anxiety?
The number of sessions a person may need is entirely dependent on their condition and response. In general, between 20 to 60 sessions are needed to see real results and improvements, though initial results can be expected around 15 sessions. On average, the time it works in to treat adhd, anxiety, depression, the autism spectrum, and more is around 40-50 sessions. This constant targeting of sensorimotor rhythm waves, alpha waves, and frequency bands results in patients understanding their brain patterns better and improving problems solving or symptoms. EEG neurofeedback is also effective on children with adhd and can help bring optimal brain performance to anyone. It is also effective at treating common symptoms of anxiety such as a high heart rate.