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What Is It?
 
What Is It

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What Is It

What Is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a technique in which we train the brain to help improve its ability to regulate all bodily functions and to take care of itself. When the brain is not functioning well, evidence of this often shows up in the EEG (Electroencephalogram). By challenging the brain, much as you challenge your body in physical exercise, we can help your brain learn to function better.

A better functioning brain can improve sleep patterns. When you sleep more efficiently, you are more alert during the day. It can help with anxiety and depression, and with syndromes like migraine or chronic pain. Secondly, it can be helpful in managing attention - how well you can persist even at a boring task. Thirdly, it can help you manage the emotions. Emotions may feel like the real you, but your brain has a lot to say about how you feel and react. If the emotions are out of control, that's trainable. If they aren't there---as in lack of empathy, for example---that, too, is trainable.

Finally, there are some specific issues where the EEG neurofeedback training can be helpful, such as in cases of seizures, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and autism. In these instances the training does not so much get rid of the problem as it simply organizes the brain to function better in the context of whatever injury or loss exists.

Once you accept the possibility that this training might be effective for you, the next question is: Will this training change who you are? If a child known for his temper outbursts does the training and the rages fall away, he is certainly different but the parents would say, we have our real son now.

   
 
   
 

Their worst features should not define a person. The training brings you closer to who you really are. That is our experience. And because this training really allows your true self to emerge, others may notice the changes in you even before you do.

Is there a completion to the training? In order to reach a specific objective, the training usually continues for a specific number of sessions. If there is a loss of optimal training effect after completion, due to stresses in your life, a few booster sessions may be recommended. However, just as concert pianists practice more than the rest of us, rather than less, Neurofeedback training can be used without limit to enhance performance. This "peak performance training" may be of interest to professional athletes, corporate executives, and performing artists.

   
  EEG Neurofeedback
   
 

In virtually every area of our lives, we are able to improve our performance when we get clear and immediate feedback about how we are doing. That is one of the key reasons why athletic performance has shown such dramatic improvements recently – sophisticated technology has enabled the athlete to gain a much greater degree of information about all aspects of physical performance, and this allows for sharpening of skills.

The same sort of technological sophistication now enables us to directly alter the functioning of our brain to improve performance. Neuroscience has shown repeatedly that the brain is capable of enormous change or plasticity, the brain is amazingly adaptable. Advanced EEG biofeedback technology provides instantaneous (real time) information to the brain about how it is functioning along with continuous hints or cues about how to make adjustments toward improved functioning. And repeated studies have shown that our brains are able to use this information to re-regulate their function.

Though the technology is quite complex, the training activity is simple, painless, and non-invasive. Sensors are placed on the scalp and EEG activity is transmitted to a computer. Auditory and visual feedback is provided instantly, so that you see and hear representations of your brain in action. The goal is to reduce or limit certain types of brainwaves and increase others. As your brain reorganizes itself based on this instantaneous information, it develops increased resilience and flexibility.

Ordinarily, we cannot influence our brain’s activity because we lack awareness of it. However, when you can see the changes in this activity on a computer screen a few thousandths of a second after they occur, you gain the ability to influence and change this activity. The mechanism of action is similar to every other form of learning or training. Neurofeedback is a form of training or exercise for the brain, assisted with a very sophisticated technology, and guided or directed by knowledge gained through advances of neuroscience.

   
 
   
 

Neurofeedback (NFB) has been shown in numerous scientific studies to improve attention significantly, with improvements equivalent to that from stimulant medication. Follow up studies have shown that gains maintained 3, 5, and 10 years after the neurofeedback ended. Research has also documented effectiveness for reducing or eliminating seizures and for improving therapeutic outcomes for treatment of addictions and post traumatic stress disorder. Several studies show the effectiveness of neurofeedback in remediating effects of traumatic brain injury. Initial studies show promising results with learning disabilities, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, and autistic spectrum disorder. This same body of research has not reported lasting negative effects of the neurofeedback training.

Because the effectiveness of neurofeedback has not been conclusively established using the strictest standards for empirical validation, some professionals will consider it to be an experimental procedure. Unfortunately, many insurance companies do not cover neurofeedback.

Our experience using neurofeedback has been positive. We are convinced that neurofeedback is a valuable option for many individuals, and can contribute to improved attention and emotional self-control and mood, decreased anxiety, tension, and perseveration, and improved overall self-regulation.

   
     

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