how neurofeedback works

Neurofeedback technology and science is based on a training procedure that effectively regulates the nervous system providing proven relief of conditions.  It is a learning tool for the brain similar to operant conditioning used in Pavlov’s famous salivating dog experiment.

The Brain is Electrical (and Chemical, Magnetic, and Photobiotic)

In order to understand how neurofeedback works we first need to understand how the brain works.  The systems that govern the human brain are the most complex and compact on earth.  In order for the brain to function optimally, the parts of the brain must talk to one another constantly.  The brain accomplishes this communication by transmitting electrical signals along neurons that connect one area of the brain to another.  The electrical signals are expressed as brain waves. Using non-invasive surface electrodes that are placed on the surface of the scalp, neurofeedback systems are able to translate these brainwaves onto a computer screen for observation.  One researcher has called them the "faint whispers of the brain" that the EEG is able to record and the doctor is able to "hear."

Brainwaves

It’s like having a window to the brain.

Gamma 25-100 Hz
Known as the “binding energy” for learning; higher levels associated with higher levels of consciousness and spiritual states; universal love and altruism; typically only accessed when the mind is very quiet as attained by very experienced meditators; how it is generated is unknown

High Beta 22-38 Hz
Highly complex thought, excitement, anxiety; producing too much high beta is very inefficient for the brain and burns too much energy

Beta 12-21 Hz
Dominant when awake and engaged in active thought, problem solving, and judgement

Alpha 8-12 Hz
The hallmark of “presence” or the “power of now;” it should double when you close your eyes; is associated with meditative states and quiet “flow” thinking; integration, coordination of thinking

Theta 4-8 Hz
Associated with twilight sleep, very deep meditative states, a very inward state where we are not focused on the external world; withdrawn state; where we hold trauma, nightmares, fears

Delta 1-4 Hz
Deep, dreamless sleep where healing and regeneration occur; associated with empathy

Brainwaves Determine Mental State or Consciousness

Over thirty years of research has demonstrated that, for any given circumstance there is an accepted normal pattern of brain wave activity.  This healthy pattern is referred to as Neurological Regulation.  A healthy, balanced, and properly regulated nervous system will produce the appropriate brain waves at the appropriate levels and at the appropriate times for any given situation.  For example, it is appropriate for the brain to produce Beta waves when it is focused on a task however in some individuals, focusing on a task results in the production of Theta instead of Beta.  Outwardly this particular patient would demonstrate symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity - much like we see in some cases of ADHD.  This reversal is just one example of Neurological Dysregulation Syndrome.

Neurofeedback Regulates Brainwaves

Neurofeedback allows the nervous system to retrain itself to create new, more appropriate wave patterns and break the cycle of abnormal regulation.  Though the technology is quite complex, the training activity is simple, painless, drugless and non-invasive.  Surface electrodes are placed on the scalp and EEG activity is transmitted to the computer screen.  Visual feedback of the patient’s brainwaves in the form of an animated game such as Pac Man, or a movie is provided instantly. The animated game or a movie only plays when the patient is producing the correct brainwave.  If the patient’s brain stops producing the desired brain wave, the game or the movie stops playing. As the nervous system reorganizes itself based on this instantaneous information, the patterns begin to normalize.  Over the course of 20 to 30 training sessions, the brain modifies itself to begin producing the appropriate brain waves at the appropriate times resulting in an alleviation of the symptoms.