Neurofeedback is direct training of brain function, by which the brain learns to function more efficiently. We observe the brain in action from moment to moment. We show that information back to the person. And we reward the brain for changing its own activity to more appropriate patterns. This is a gradual learning process. It applies to any aspect of brain function that we can measure. Neurofeedback is also called EEG Biofeedback, because it is based on electrical brain activity, the electroencephalogram, or EEG. Neurofeedback is training in self-regulation. It is simply biofeedback applied to the brain directly. Self-regulation is a necessary part of good brain function. Self-regulation training allows the system (the central nervous system) to function better.
Neurofeedback addresses problems of brain disregulation. These happen to be numerous. They include the anxiety-depression spectrum, attention deficits, behavior disorders, various sleep disorders, headaches and migraines, PMS and emotional disturbances. It is also useful for organic brain conditions such as seizures, the autism spectrum, and cerebral palsy.
We apply electrodes to the scalp to listen in on brainwave activity. We process the signal by computer, and we extract information about certain key brainwave frequencies. (All brainwave frequencies are equal, but some are more equal than others…) We show the ebb and flow of this activity back to the person, who attempts to change the activity level. Some frequencies we wish to promote. Others we wish to diminish. We present this information to the person in the form of a video game. The person is effectively playing the video game with his or her brain. Eventually the brainwave activity is “shaped” toward more desirable, more regulated performance. The frequencies we target, and the specific locations on the scalp where we listen in on the brain, are specific to the conditions we are trying to address, and specific to the individual.
In the case of organic brain disorders, it can only be a matter of getting the brain to function better rather than of curing the condition. When it comes to problems of deregulation, we would say that there is not a disease to be cured. Where deregulation is the problem, self-regulation may very well be the remedy. But again the word cure would not apply.
With successful neurofeedback training, the medications targeting brain function may very well no longer be needed, or they may be needed at lower dosages, as the brain takes over more of the role of regulating itself. This decrease in medications is particularly striking when the medications play a supportive role in any event, as is often the case for the more severe disorders that we are targeting with our work. It is important for clients to communicate with their prescribing physician regarding neurofeedback and medications.
We are especially concerned with the more “intractable” brain-based problems of childhood whose needs are not currently being met. This includes, Seizures and sub-clinical seizure activity, Severely disruptive behavior disorders such as Conduct Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, Autistic spectrum and pervasive developmental delay, Cerebral palsy, Acquired brain injury, Birth trauma.
Many children have sleep problems that can be helped such as Bed wetting, Sleep walking, sleep talking, Teeth grinding, Nightmares, Night terrors.
We can also be helpful with many of the problems of adolescence including Drug abuse, Suicidal behavior, Anxiety and depression.
We can also help to maintain good brain function as people get older. The good news is that almost any brain, regardless of its level of function, can be trained to function better.