Neurofeedback, sometimes known as EEG biofeedback or neurotherapy, is a type of therapeutic treatment for your brain. It treats the faulty brain wave activity. During neurofeedback, you learn to train your brain to correct the faulty brain wave activity, resulting in improved day-to-day functioning. You can think of neurofeedback as “brain training.” Like a muscle, your brain gets stronger the more you train it. And when the brain works better, you feel better and perform better. The results are permanent: when the brain has been trained to stay in the new brainwave–form then symptoms can disappear completely and medication is often not needed any more.
How is neurofeedback done?
Sensors are placed on the client’s scalp and ears to record the electrical activity of your brain waves. The brain waves are converted into signals which are sent to the clinician’s computer and a mini QEEG is conducted. This QEEG shows the clinician exactly if the client’s brain is over or underactive on certain points which causes symptoms like depression, anxiety, concentration problems etc. This helps the clinician to determine where and how to train the client. When starting to train, the client is sitting in front of a second computer that displays the neurofeedback program, i.e. a “game” or “DVD” which is designed to give the brain the correct feedback.
The sensors are placed on the areas of the brain that need to be improved and the correct brainwave is given to the client. It is those brainwaves that are taken over by the client’s brain that start and play the program. As the client interacts with the program, he or she becomes aware of different brain states or levels of attention such as relaxed, daydreaming or alert. The brain gets used to being in the better, optimal brainwave, the symptoms disappear and the brain learns to go back easier and easier into the new, desired brainwave. This works according to the positive reward principle where the brain functions in its optimal potential and eliminates the negative symptoms.
How effective is Neurofeedback?
Clinical research shows that neurofeedback training has an 80% success rate in reducing symptoms of ADHD. Other studies show increases from 10-23 points in IQ scores in a group of children with ADHD.
Research using neurofeedback with Autism shows promising results, such as some students improving sufficiently to be mainstreamed into regular classes.
For depression, a gradual lifting of mood, enhanced motivation and energy should occur. Neurofeedback changes the underactive alpha brainwaves and trains the brain to work optimally again. Neurofeedback offers methods to help these brains get back to normal.
Furthermore Neurofeedback is an established means to retrain the brain to restore a more normal experience of sleep, changing fast brainwaves that do not allow us to fall asleep or stay asleep. It helps to normalize sleeping patterns.
Neurofeedback is very helpful to elevate anxiety by calming the brain down and changing high beta wavelength which cause anxiety and worries into more controlled slower brainwaves, hence eliminating the symptoms.
Neurofeedback has been shown to stabilize the brain in bipolar patients and to reduce the intensity, duration and frequency of the “highs and lows” of the disorder.
Lastly, neurofeedback can be successfully used for migraines by balancing the brain which helps to eliminate physical and psychological tension.
How long does training take?
For clinical conditions, neurofeedback is often used as an additional, short-term treatment, along with more traditional therapy, including medication. For specific performance enhancement such as in sports, public speaking and the workplace, neurofeedback can be a short-term treatment by itself. Initially, sessions occur frequently, from two or more sessions per week. Sessions last approximately 45 minutes.
Since neurofeedback is a learning process that involves training, results occur over time. For most conditions, progress in seen within about 10 to 20 sessions. For ADHD, bipolar and other more long term disorders about 40-60 sessions may be needed, depending on severity, medication, etc. Once the brain learns to regulate itself properly, it remembers what it learns and works more efficiently.
What conditions does neurofeedback help?
The conditions which have documented, published evidence of its effectiveness are:
- Attachment Disorders
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic Pain
- Cognitive Decline in Elderly
- Bipolar Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)
- Learning Disabilities
- Sleep Disorders
- Tourette’s Syndrome/Tics
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
- Executive Functioning (improvement of sport/music and business performance)
- Closed head injuries
R385 per neurofeedback session (price accurate as March 2011)