What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is EEG based biofeedback that helps the brain to practice self-regulation. Neurofeedback is a method of training brain activity using sophisticated electronic devices that monitor and feedback information to the client about changes in EEG patterns. This is a training approach and not a therapeutic intervention. There is no electrical input into the client and the neurofeedback device is simply measuring the scalp surface electrical activity in a way that is similar to a doctor listening to a heartbeat from the skin surface using a stethoscope.
How does Neurofeedback work?
Neurofeedback uses real-time display of brain activity to train self-regulation of brain function, according to the principle of operant conditioning. Sensors are placed on the scalp to measure activity, with measurements displayed using video displays or sound. Positive feedback is given for desired brain activity and negative feedback for brain activity that is undesirable, which reconditions and trains the brain. At first, the changes are short-lived, but the changes gradually become more enduring.
Why do we use Neurofeedback?
We perform comprehensive evaluations for our clients and collaboratively discuss treatment options. Neurofeedback training can be helpful in conjunction with therapy and/or medication. Neurofeedback may be useful in particular for those who do not respond to medication or have had many side effects with medication. Sometimes neurotraining may be useful to help keep the dosage of medication as low as possible.
Neurofeedback is FDA approved for helping to confirm a diagnosis of ADHD and is given “Level 1 — Best Support” as an intervention for Attention & Hyperactivity Behaviors by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although strongest evidence exists for neurotraining to improve attention, there is some evidence that neurofeedback can also help improve functions such as short-term memory, sleep, anxiety, pain perception, mental clarity and alertness, creativity, and emotional balance.
What is a QEEG?
A QEEG, or quantitative electroencephalogram, is a method for assessing electrical activity in the brain. Sensors that can detect very small amplitudes of electrical activity are placed at 19 sites on the scalp. EEG is then recorded while the client sits quietly. A trained professional then visually inspects the recorded signals.
The brainwave data that are gathered are then statistically compared to a sophisticated and large normative database that provides scientifically objective information on how the brain should be functioning at the client’s age. This assessment procedure allows the professional to then determine in a scientific, objective manner whether a client’s brainwave patterns are significantly different from normal, and if so, how and where they differ. An initial QEEG is done prior to designing a training protocol and at points during treatment to assess progress.
What type of neurofeedback do we use?
We use the Nexus-32/BioTrace system that was developed by Mind Media in the Netherlands. We use Z-score training, which is a more recent innovation that usually utilizes two, four, or more electrodes on the head. Continuous calculations are computed comparing the way that the brain is functioning on different variables to a scientifically developed normative database. As with other methods of neurofeedback, the feedback that is provided is designed to train the brain toward normalized function. This feedback often consists of observing a DVD where the picture dims and flickers when the person is not doing as well and becomes more clear and bright when his or her brain is functioning closer to norms.
What is a typical course of training?
A typical course of neurofeedback or neurotraining involves a baseline QEEG followed by at least 20 half-hour sessions, administered over a 6- to 12-week period. Although rates of progress vary from patient to patient, significant benefit is often observed within the first few weeks of therapy.