Neurofeedback is a biofeedback technique, also known as EEG biofeedback. It is a gradual therapeutic learning process that can help individuals train themselves to directly affect their brain function. It works by providing immediate feedback to an individual about their brain, specifically, their brainwaves. The individual is rewarded for patterns of brainwave activity and in turn, they learn to self-regulate their own brainwave patterns without the use of medications or additional therapy.
Neurofeedback is effective in the treatment of depression, ADHD, anxiety, trauma, sleep disorders, headaches, migraines, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, impulsivity, and aggression. It can also be helpful for people with autism.
What Does a Neurofeedback Session Look Like?
A neurofeedback treatment session is typically conducted at least once a week by a trained professional who acts as an active and supportive guide and teacher. Electrodes are applied to the scalp, which allows the client and therapist to monitor brainwave activity. The electrodes do not hurt and conduct no amount of electricity that one can feel. The person’s hair is not removed or shaven during the electrode placement.
The signals picked up by the electrodes are sent to a computer, where they are processed. Key brainwave frequencies are turned into a combination of images and sound feedback, which the client can watch and hear. This is done in “real-time,” so the client can see exactly what is going on in their brain as they think certain thoughts, feel stressed or feel relaxed. The brainwave activity information is presented to the person in the form of a movie or video game. The person is effectively engaged in the movie or playing the video game with his or her brain. Eventually, the brainwave activity is “shaped” toward more desirable and more regulated performance. The frequencies that the neurofeedback professional targets as well as the specific locations on the scalp electrodes, are specific to the patient’s condition or disorder.
The Key to Successful Neurofeedback Training
The key to successful neurofeedback training is to lower certain brainwave frequencies while promoting other, healthier frequencies. While this sounds difficult, it is done by simple repetitive training while connected to the electrodes. Effective neurofeedback training typically takes anywhere from 15 to 40 sessions. Unlike virtually all other treatment methods available, neurofeedback has no known significant side effects. Neurofeedback allows people to train their brains naturally, without pharmaceutical medications. With ongoing healthy living, the gains made in treatment with the computer and electrodes remain even without having to use the electrodes and computer in the future. (Grohol, 2015)
At Moonlight Ranch, we use the BrainMaster Discovery 24, the next generation of EEG biofeedback. This system features 24 channels of EEG recording including 22 channels connected to a standard electrode cap, plus 2 channels of differential inputs with separate references, useful for monitoring any of a wide range of EEG or related potentials.
The Discovery records all standard 10-20 sites simultaneously and can produce full EEG head maps, LORETA (low-resolution electromagnetic tomographic analysis) images, and other whole-head analyses with Brain Avatar 4.0 Live sLORETA Projection Imaging.