My son with ADD just completed 40 sessions of neurofeedback this past June. What a world of difference that has made in his life! His ODD is pretty much gone, his society anxiety has been reduced, he can focus and attend in school and during homework. The only negative thing I have to say about it is I wish I didn’t wait until he was 10 years old to do it.
Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback. In biofeedback, information about some part of your body is fed back to you, and you are able to gain control over yourself in a way previously unavailable.
In neurofeedback the information that is fed back to you is EEG (electroencephalogram) data read by sensors placed on your head. Very tiny amounts of electric energy are read and processed by electronic and computer equipment to provide you with moment by moment information about your brain activity.
Brain cells communicate with one another, in part, through a constant storm of electrical impulses. Their patterns show up on an electroencephalogram, or EEG, as brain waves with different frequencies. NFB practitioners first create a “brain map”, the initial EEG readings on their patient to serve as a guide for treatment.
Excessive fast or slow activity is associated with brain dysregulation, and a variety of clinical symptoms. For example, my son’s EEG showed high Theta waves which are responsible for our daydream state. That explained why he “zoned” out in class and daydreamed, lacked focus and attention. The EEG can show which areas of the brain have high or low wave frequency, or when parts of the brain aren’t communicating adequately with other parts. Training changes in that activity helps improve self-regulation.
This activity is shown to the neurofeedback therapist as wave patterns on a computer screen, and to patients as visual graphics–ranging from cars racing one another to rapidly changing side by side puzzles. The NFB practitioner will help the patient speed up or slow down the brain waves. The goal is explained to the patient (make one car go faster than the other), and the brain learns how to make that happen without the person knowing how they do it. A sound also beeps when the brain behaves as desired, which helps. Simply wanting to hear the beeps seems to be enough to get the brain to cooperate. This is known as operant conditioning, which forms an association between a behavior and a consequence.
This is a short list of what NFB can improve:
- emotional regulation
- cognitive function and mental flexibility
Some of the conditions NFB is used to treat are:
When you change the brain, it undoubtedly affects the mind. The NFB training produces a measurable physiological effect on the brain. When you give the brain information about itself, it has an enormous capacity for change. Neurofeedback makes the information available to the brain almost instantly, and asks it to make adjustments. The brain can respond rapidly. Changes in the EEG due to feedback tend to correlate with improved behavior, mood, affect regulation and attention.