What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback, or EEG Biofeedback, is training of the brain. Over time, the brain actually trains itself to function more efficiently. We monitor the brain in “real time”. We show that information back to the trainee. We reward the brain for changing its own activity to be more efficient. EEG Biofeedback is based on electrical brain activity, the electroencephalogram. Neurofeedback is training in self-regulation. It is simply biofeedback applied to the brain. Self-regulation is a necessary part of good brain function. Self-regulation training allows the system (the central nervous system) to function better.
What is neurofeedback used for?
Neurofeedback addresses problems of brain dysregulation. There are many that include the anxiety-depression spectrum, attention deficits, behavior disorders, various sleep disorders, headaches and migraines, PMS and emotional disturbances. It is also useful for organic brain conditions such as seizures, the autism spectrum, and cerebral palsy.
How does neurofeedback work?
We apply sensors to the scalp to listen to the brainwave activity. We process the signal by computer, and we extract information about certain key brainwave frequencies. We show the ebb and flow of this activity back to the person, who attempts to change the activity level. Some frequencies we wish to promote. Others we wish to reduce. We present this information to the person in the form of a video, music or game. The person is actually participating with their brain. Eventually the brainwave activity is "shaped" toward more desirable, more regulated performance.
How is it used to train an individual's unique brain?
Over the years, certain Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback) training protocols have been developed that are helpful with certain classes of problems such as attention, anxiety and depression, seizures and migraines, as well as cognitive function.
Is neurofeedback considered a cure?
Neurofeedback is evidenced-based in the research to be able to make changes for a lifetime! However, “cure” is not considered as an appropriate term.
What is neurofeedback effective at helping?
Neurofeedback is effective for many issues including:
- Seizures and sub-clinical seizure activity
- Severely disruptive behavior disorders such as Conduct Disorder and Bipolar Disorder
- Autistic spectrum and pervasive developmental delay
- Cerebral palsy
- Acquired brain injury
- Birth trauma
- Many children have sleep problems that can be helped:
- Bed wetting
- Sleep walking, sleep talking
- Teeth grinding
- Night terrors
- We can also be helpful with many of the problems of adolescence:
- Drug abuse
- Suicidal behavior
- Anxiety and depression
- We can also help to maintain good brain function as people get older.
The good news is that almost any brain, regardless of its level of function, can be trained to function better.
Do the effects of neurofeedback really last?
If the problem being addressed is one of brain dysregulation, then the answer is yes, and that covers a lot of ground. Neurofeedback involves learning by the brain and if that brings order out of disorder, the brain will continue to use its new capabilities, and thus reinforce them.
Matters are different when we are dealing with degenerative conditions like Parkinson's or dementia, or when we are working against continuing insults to the system, as may be the case in the autism spectrum. In such cases the training needs to be continued at some level over time. Allergic susceptibilities and food intolerances make it more difficult to hold the gains. Poor digestive function will pose a problem, as does poor nutrition. A child living in a toxic environment (in either the physical or the psychological sense) will have more difficulty retaining good function.
This Material Was provided all or in part from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Communications and Education, National Institute of Mental Health, Public Health Service - Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857 USA