What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a technique that allows the brain to train itself to function at its maximum potential. Neurofeedback is a procedure that provides us a direct response as to how the brain is functioning. It is basically exercise training for the brain. By placing sensors on the head at various positions, and sending information to an advanced computer based software system we can actually see how the brain is functioning and reacting to various stimuli. By showing this information back to the person it allows the brain to learn how to function more efficiently.
It allows us to be able to instantly view the brain in action. If there is too much activity at certain areas in the brain or not enough at other areas, we are able to teach your brain to learn how to make the appropriate changes to restore these disturbed areas to its normal function. Neurofeedback basically rewards the brain for altering its own activity to more suitable patterns. This is a progressive gradual learning process. A typical training course might take 20 sessions to complete the desired effect. People often notice changes throughout the training sessions. It’s kind of like learning how to ride a bike, play an instrument, or play a sport. You won’t be able to do it immediately, but once you have you will be able to remember it even years later.
A person might have a disruption to an area of the brain that deals with memory, and/or another that handles anger or sadness, while another that’s main function is OCD issues, not able to move on or get over things easily. Knowing how a particular brain is functioning is extremely important. It allows us the information needed to know how to retrain the regions that are not functioning properly. Like a puppy needs to be trained to teach them how to act in your household, Neurofeedback trains your brain to work in a more efficient way.
Very often before neurofeedback is performed, first a brain map is taken on the individual. A brain map or quantitative EEG is a procedure that captures readings from 19 different sites on the head. Data retrieved from these 19 sites gives us the information needed to form a brain map. From this data, a 38 page report is prepared that tells us which areas of the brain are working optimally and which areas are not. It tells us if various areas are symmetrical, and communicating with each other and which areas are not functioning within the normal frequencies. After gathering all of this information, and determining which areas of the brain need to be trained, a tailor made training protocol is configured into the computer to train your brain to perform optimally.
This training is very similar to the way the body is trained, toned and maintained during exercise. It’s one thing to exercise one set of muscles at a time (i.e. – Doing leg curls at the gym.) and it’s another to actually work multiple groups of muscles together while utilizing exercises that target a collection of muscles at the same time as is seen in yoga, fit ball, Bosu ball, and kick boxing to name a few. By targeting numerous muscles at the same time they are able to work together in harmony making it harder to become injured or to flare up an old dormant injury. Neurofeedback works very similarly as it also trains multiple regions of the brain together at the same time allowing them to work together harmoniously. Instead of using muscles, your brain’s neural pathways are exercised during trainings allowing the brain to have better function in areas such as concentration and focus.
To start, sensors are place on specific points on the head that have been determined to be areas that need training. Everyone is different and will have different protocols depending upon their particular problems or weaknesses. After determining which areas that need to be trained and after placing the sensors over these regions, the leads to these sensors are plugged into a neurofeedback unit that is attached to a computer. There are various ways to perform neurofeedback on people. Some people are trained with their eyes open, others are trained with their eyes closed and still others may be trained with their eyes open while performing a particular task like reading, doing puzzles, or playing mind teasers or games. At first you might not know what is going on. Some training sessions might have you playing a game with your mind. Every time you are in the “Zone” and your brain is staying within the parameters that the neurofeedback practitioner set for you the game, (let’s say Pac Man for instance) will speed up and you will actually be winning the game. If you are “Zoned Out” for the moment. and not training as well as you could. then the game slows down and you will not do as well in the game.
Another game might be one that allows you to compete in a blimp balloon race with other blimps. All the while you are playing this game with your brain. You might not know how you are doing it, only that the “game” has been programmed to respond every time your brain waves form into certain patterns. The intended patterns are different for each individual depending on whether you want to improve decision-making, help with your attention as is seen with ADD/ADHD cases, or help with people suffering from emotional problems such as anger issues, depression or anxiety. Trainings can also be used for people interested in peak performance training so they can excel at sports, increase their creativity, become razor sharp and work with clarity and precision or play the piano. Gradually, as you succeed in winning more races, your brain is motivated to produce the desired pattern more often. You learn, unconsciously, how to “switch” yourself into your desired state. All we are doing is showing you what your brain is doing at a particular time. You are the one who makes the changes.
What is Neurofeedback Typically used for:
– Traumatic Brain Injuries
– Peak performance
– Learning Disabilities
– Anger Management
– Chronic Pain
– Sleep Disorders