Neurofeedback therapy uses a computer program to assess your brainwave activity, providing immediate feedback. It is related to biofeedback and has proven very effective for certain patients suffering from neurological disorders or injury.
Some people know about biofeedback because they once owned a mood ring – a heat-sensitive metal ring that would supposedly respond to a person’s mood. Biofeedback measures things like body temperature, breathing, heart rate, brain waves, and other condition.
The aim of biofeedback is to leverage control over a person’s involuntary body functions. This process of gaining control over these body functions is called conditioning, operant conditioning, and relaxation.
In a general way, biofeedback is a catchall category like music, and neurofeedback is a specific type of music, like hip-hop or jazz. There are other types of biofeedback that doctors use in a variety of ways. These include heart rate variability, thermal, and muscular, as well as neurological feedback, which is another way of saying neurofeedback.
All biofeedback uses a monitoring system like a computer or a specific program to monitor whatever it’s trying to measure. Neurofeedback is specifically measuring brainwave activity. Scientists and doctors look at amplitude – the number of brainwaves spent in particular parts of the brain – and dysregulation – how well the brainwaves work together.
A good analogy for neurofeedback is your car’s yearly inspection. During an inspection, there are tons of computers and gauges hooked up to your car in order to see which elements are working well and which aren’t.
Just like when your mechanic will give you a run-down about what’s going on in your car, neurofeedback can tell you what parts of your brain are working efficiently, or how your brain’s activity looks compared to your peers of similar age and gender.
Some types of neurofeedback do not require experts to conduct them. Well-meaning people can buy the equipment needed to conduct neurofeedback, but they won’t necessarily have the skills to use it correctly. And when it’s your brain or the way you handle certain situations, you want to eliminate any room for error.
Neurofeedback has been known to alleviate symptoms from a variety of neurological afflictions, including PTSD, Parkinson’s, movement disorders, anxiety, sleep disorders, concussions, or repercussions from brain injury or surgery.
What neurofeedback does really well is it shows which parts of a person’s brain are working and which aren’t. It can map the activity in a certain area, as in the situation of a stroke, or it can show dysregulation in neural hubs, like in PTSD or in a concussion.
When looking at patients with elevated amounts of anxiety, the neurofeedback is looking to map the cause of the anxiety. Anxiety is just the symptom, an important distinction to make. Once it has been determined what part of your brain is over- or under-activated, or which part is dysregulated, a whole slew of options are available for treatment.
What happens during a session?
An average of 20 sessions are used in neurofeedback therapy, although some patients need less and some need more. When you go to a session, you sit in a chair and a technician hooks some sensory pads to your scalp. You are then directed to watch a screen that will have graphics, play music, or have some sort of game. The way your brain interacts with the images on the screen tells the program which parts of your brain are doing what.
The neurofeedback program will assess your brainwave activity, and it will then direct your brainwaves to the areas of your brain that are over- or under-activated. It is a huge benefit of neurofeedback therapy that you get such immediate feedback from the program. In between sessions, you should notice a difference in your mental clarity, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and sleep quality.
Where to find neurofeedback therapy
It is important to find a technician with training and experience in neurofeedback therapy. It is also important to use that neurofeedback to suss out the causes of some of the patient’s issues.
Ask your doctor about neurofeedback therapy and if it’s right for you. Experts like those at The Attach Place can lead you down the path to a healthier mind, spirit, and body.