Neurofeedback training, also referred to as EEG Biofeedback or neurotherapy, is a form of operant conditioning during which the patient trains their own brainwaves. Neurofeedback presents the patient with real-time feedback on brainwave activity. Brainwave activity is measured by sensors that are placed on the scalp. The sensors detect brain wave activity including Delta, Theta, Alpha and Beta. When brain activity changes in the direction desired by the neurofeedback protocol, a positive "reward", typically in the form of a visual display and/or sound is given to the patient.
Neurofeedback differs from other biofeedback techniques, in that the focus is on the central nervous system and the brain. Through the process of doing neurofeedback, the patient learns to train down or train up certain brainwaves associated with a variety of disorders (see What is Neurofeedback?). Treatments last from 10-30 minutes and must occur minimally one time per week, and may occur two or more times per week for a minimum of 30-40 sessions. For some conditions, such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Autism, 60-100 or more sessions may be required in order to determine benefits from neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback treatments involve the use of the BrainMaster® software and hardware.
NOTE: In order to engage in neurofeedback, you will first be required to have a neurological assessment (QEEG). It is also important to understand that many neurofeedback protocols are considered to be experimental.
There are several disorders that may respond positively to neurofeedback and neurofeedback includes many potential benefits. Neurofeedback has published effectiveness for the treatment of a variety of disorders including ADD/ADHD, Addictions, Anxiety, Chronic Pain, Cognitive Enhancement, Depression, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Learning Disabilities, Peak Performance/Academic Performance, PTSD, Relaxation, Sleep Problems, and Stress. Neurofeedback also has demonstrated clinical effectiveness for many disorders including Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Brain Injury (TBI), Cognitive Decline, Headache, Migraines, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Stroke, Turret's Syndrome, In addition neurofeedback has been shown to be useful in treating Anger, Asthma, Autoimmune Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Creativity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Coma, Developmental Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, Hypertension, Optimal Functioning, Parkinson's, Premenstrual Syndrome, Spasticity, Tinnitus, & TMJ. For further information see ISNR's Comprehensive Bibliography.
The risks of neurofeedback include increased dreaming and recollection of dreams, nightmares, boundary clarification (relationship changes), an occasional headache, moodiness, irritability, and, neurofeedback reduces the ability to resist emotions.
Neurofeedback will not interfere with most other treatments. The patient may feel anxious as a result of participating in neurofeedback and seeing their own brain activity, or may feel tired/sleepy or physically "heavy" as a result of participating in neurofeedback.. Temporary side effects such as feeling giddy, agitated or irritated may occur during neurofeedback sessions; however, these side effects can be adjusted and eliminated immediately in most cases. It is also possible that the patient might fall asleep during or after neurofeedback sessions.
Alternatives to neurofeedback include peripheral biofeedback, medicines, alternative health care options (i.e., Audio Visual Entrainment, acupuncture, natural supplements), physical therapies and other additional medical treatments and procedures.