Neurofeedback works! Neurofeedback is what’s known as a biofeedback intervention to help restore and enhance brain function.
Neurofeedback, aka EEG biofeedback, is a research-supported treatment that changes the way the brain works without the use of medication. This happens by tapping into the natural way in which we learn and assimilate information neurologically. The brain has natural capacities to change by reshaping neural networks. Our brains are constantly being shaped by experience. Repeated experience results in increased, stronger connections within the brain. Small changes that are repeatedly reinforced lead to changes in how our brains work. This is why neurofeedback is so effective.
What happens during Neurofeedback Treatment
Neurofeedback involves monitoring and analyzing brain activity picked up by electrodes placed on the scalp. The brain functions can be seen through electrical impulses that we can measure. We can visualize these electrical changes in the form of brainwaves, as recorded on an electroencephalogram (EEG). The EEG itself is used to guide the feedback you receive.
In neurofeedback, a person is effectively interacting with his or her brain. Eventually, the brainwave activity is “shaped” toward more desirable, more regulated performance. During a session, people usually report feeling relaxed. They sit in a chair and listen to sounds and/or watch a video on a screen using their brain to direct the feedback (or sensory information experienced). Nothing is being put into your brain. We are simply “listening” to your brain wave activity through sensors.
In neurofeedback, positive feedback (sensory information) is provided to increase desired brain activity in order to teach self-regulation of brain function. Self-regulation is fundamental to healthy psychological functioning. New patterns of neuronal communication tend to result in changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior. Over time, these changes can endure without continued use of an instrument.
How can Neurofeedback Treatment help?
With neurofeedback, your brain changes itself. This is known as “neuroplasticity” and is the way we learn anything. Because neurofeedback is involved in helping the nervous system regulate itself, it can be used with patients of all ages with a wide range of concerns. Many people’s brains have become stuck in a rigid pattern of responding. With neurofeedback, we can help the brain to become more flexible and efficient, allowing you to be better able to adapt to challenges in the future.
People who might otherwise avoid traditional forms of therapy are often drawn to neurofeedback. Although it can be helpful to do deep emotional work to process traumatic events and regulate emotional experiences, with neurofeedback training, it is not necessary to relive traumatic events or evoke painful emotions; we can simply work with brain dynamics. Many people appreciate the fact that they are active participants in the training. They value the opportunity to see how their brain is responding in each moment and feel a sense of agency in the change process.
Outside of psychotherapy and counseling, the predominant approach to managing problems such as anxiety and depression is medication. Drugs can temporarily alleviate symptoms, but do not tend to produce lasting changes: they don’t always teach old brains new tricks. When discontinued, the symptoms often return, because the brain hasn’t learned to operate any differently. With neurofeedback, we often see a reduced need for medication as brain regulation increases. As the brain learns greater self-regulation, it works more efficiently, and reliance on medication can be reduced. Of course, not every patient’s medications can be discontinued. Regardless, neurofeedback often works well in conjunction with other forms of treatment (like talk therapy and medication), and can help augment and stabilize the effects of other forms of treatment.