Applications of Neurofeedback
Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the brain to strenthen or create neural networks based upon the stimulation that it receives. Neurofeedback therapy is a unique intervention that can specifically train these neural networks, resulting in more efficient and better regulated brain activity. This is measured and observed through qEEG analysis, which is looking at the electrical activty within the brain itself. This information gets translated into the different brainwaves that the brain can produce, and subsequently, neurofeedback training is a way to help the brain produce more desired patterns of brainwave activity. Training these different brainwaves has been shown to have very real, positive effects. Read below about the different applications that neurofeedback can have, and discover how neurofeedback therapy can help you overcome various challenges, and help you in your quest towards an optimal life.
Neurofeedback has many different applications, similar to how physical therapy can help many different regions in the body. Some of these applications are reviewed below. Please understand that the neurofeedback training (protocols used) differ, and the locations on the head vary, which explains the various application that neurofeedback has.
Improve and restore sleep patterns.
Studies have shown that neurofeedback therapy can be as effective as CBT-i at improving and restoring appropriate sleep patterns.
Improve focus and concentration.
Neurofeedback has been shown to help improve attention, comparable to levels seen with stimulant medications.
Decrease worry and relax more.
Worry is a common symptom in many clinical conditions, and a number of studies demonstrate the benefit of neurofeedback on helping people better control this worry, and subsequently be more relaxed in stressful situations.
Improve executive function.
Success at any level or endeavor requires executive function skills. These are the skills necessary to pay attention, organize/plan, initiating tasks, completing tasks and demonstrating emotional regulation. Neurofeedback has been shown to help improve these traits, both from a remediation perspective when someone is struggling, but also from an enhancement perspective in healthy individuals.
Improve emotional regulation
The ability to regulate emotions is critical to feeling well, and challenges in this area present themselves differently depending on where someone is in life. For children, this can affect friendships, academic performance and strain family events. For adults, overreacting is a common expression.
A focus on "Failure to Launch".
Highly dependent adult children living at home can be a difficult situation. Learn how neurofeedback can help these people gain greater independence.
Enhancing sport performance with neurofeedback
Professional Burnout and Neurofeedback.
"Neurofeedback should play a major therapeutic role in many difficult areas. In my opinion, if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy it would be universally accepted and widely used"
-Dr. Frank H. Duffy
Professor and Pediatric Neurologist
at Harvard Medical School
Depending upon your mental state, your brain produces 4 distinct brainwaves. Scientific research has demonstrated that, for any given circumstance, there is an accepted normal pattern of brainwave activity. A healthy, balanced and properly regulated nervous system will produce the appropriate brain waves at the appropriate levels and at the appropriate times for any given situation.
However, when the nervous system becomes tense and unbalanced as a result of subluxation, poor nutrition, stress, food sensitivities, drugs or trauma, the brain wave patterns become deregulated resulting in many different neurological symptoms and conditions. For example, if the brain produces high magnitudes of delta or theta, the person may experience attention and focus issues, cognitive decline, learning disorders, or symptoms related to concussions. If the brain produces higher than normal magnitudes of alpha, the person may experience symptoms associated with fibromyalgia such as pain, irritability or melancholy. If the brain produces higher than normal magnitudes of beta waves, the person may experience symptoms associated with worry, panic, migraine/tension headaches, chronic pain, or insomnia.
These are just some of the many examples of brain wave dysregulation that can be addressed with neurofeedback therapy. It is actually a learning modality designed to retain dysregulated brainwave patterns. The goal of all neurofeedback is to transform an unhealthy, dysregulated brainwave imbalance into normal, healthy organized pattern. It is a completely noninvasive and is considered by the Food and Drug Administration to be safe. In fact the Food and Drug Administration recognizes that neurofeedback has NEVER produced a serious side effect since it was first discovered over 60 years ago. Published scientific research has demonstrated neurofeedback's efficacy in managing a variety of neurological conditions, and it has been shown to improve focus and concentration, decrease worry and improve sleep. Refer to the section above that discusses the different applications that neurofeedback has.
THE qEEG EVALUATION - The Gateway to Brainwave Training
Most neurofeedback cases begin with a qEEG evaluation. This evaluation looks at the electrical activity that the brain produces, and that information gets translated into brainwaves and brainwave patterns. This procedure is harmless; a tight fitting cap is placed on the head (similar to a swim cap) and embedded within the cap are sensors specifically placed where hubs of neurological activity are located on the head. It is important to note that these sensors do not put any electrical current into the brain-they simply record signals coming from the brain.
THE QEEG REPORT
The brainwave data recorded with the qEEG is statistically compared to a sophisticated and large normative database and a report is generated. this assessment procedure allows the doctor to determine, in a scientifically objective manner, whether a client's brainwave patterns are different from normal. The qEEG assessment provides the doctor with neurofeedback training protocols that will be used during the training sessions. These protocols are designed to retrain the brainwave patterns toward normal. As the brainwave patterns normalize, the brain is able to operate more optimally and efficiently.
NEUROFEEDBACK TRAINING SESSIONS
Individuals are hooked up to a computer using wires and sensors, and the computer records their brainwave activity. These sensors are non-invasive, as no electrical current is put into the brain. Information about these brainwaves is displayed on the doctor's monitor.
The software automatically detects when the brainwaves are properly ordered and it feeds that information back to the patient. This feedback appears in the form of a game, movie or sound which signals the patient that the brainwaves are becoming more ordered. For example, in the image above, the patient is watching a puzzle of a picture that is being filled in piece by piece. As long as the patients brain waves are moving in an orderly direction, the puzzle pieces are filled in and the patient hears a tone. If the brainwave patterns move away from an orderly configuration, then the puzzle does not get filled in and no tone is produced. The patient is actually controlling the completion of the puzzle with their brain and by doing so; the brain is learning how to regulate itself.
In another design, the patient performs the training while watching a movie. In this case the patient may watch a DVD movie that is being controlled by their ability to regulate their brainwaves. The movie will get brighter as the brain waves normalize and become darker when they become deregulated. The brain's natural desire to watch the movie clearly, will drive those neurological circuits that normalize the brainwaves and allow the picture to be visualized. The more those circuits are driven and used-the neuroplastic changes take hold. The patient learns how to use those new circuits during the demands of everyday life.