What Is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that uses electroencephalography (EEG) to provide a signal that can be used by a person to receive feedback about brain activity. The EEG signal is fed into computer software first then the feedback, usually a movie or music, is returned to the person being trained. This feedback loop can produce changes in brainwave activity. The process used to adjust brainwave activity is known as operant conditioning, which is a method where rewards for positive behavior increase learning capabilities.
The concept is fairly simple. The computer monitors your brainwaves while you watch a movie or listen to music. When deviations from normal brainwave activity occur, the computer triggers an audio or visual cue that alerts the patient that they are outside normal ranges. These cues are received by the brain, which subconsciously adjusts itself back to a normal pattern to make the cue stop. With enough repetition of this process, the brain eventually learns to stay in the normal ranges on its own without the computer. With the brain functioning normally on its own, symptoms of irregular brain activity will decline.
It has been well documented that people who suffer neurological problems have abnormal brain waves in certain areas of the brain. For instance, case studies using QEEG “brain maps” have shown that people with Attention-Deficit-Disorder (ADD) have elevated delta brainwaves, while those who suffer from depression have elevated alpha brainwaves. Those with anxiety will have elevated Beta brainwaves, while those suffering from memory loss usually have decreased theta brainwaves.
Training the brain using neurofeedback can change these brainwaves over time, adjusting them into normal, healthy ranges. It can improve alertness, attention, emotional regulation, behavior, cognitive function, and mental flexibility. When the brain moves back into normal ranges, users will often see a reduction in symptoms.
The best part of neurofeedback is that results are often permanent, allowing a person to reduce or even eliminate medications altogether. Where medications only manage the symptoms, the goal of neurofeedback is to address the underlying cause and restore normal brainwave functions.