A healthy brain needs both fast and slow moving brainwave activity to function at its best. Neurofeedback, a form of biofeedback, works to change the electrical activity of your brain. Biofeedback is a broad term for being able to learn to control some of your bodily functions through real-time feedback. It’s like learning to slow down your breaths-per-minute by watching your breathing rate on a screen. Neurofeedback is biofeedback that’s specifically targeted to your brain. It is a non-invasive, drug-free treatment that works toward improving the source of your unwanted symptoms.
Frequently, neurofeedback begins with brain mapping. An assessment is done by attaching sensors to the scalp to get a real-time reading of your brain. This shows how and where these brainwaves are occurring in the brain. Neurofeedback can then be focused on the areas struggling and train those waves to operate more effectively.
While the science and research behind neurofeedback is extensive, neurofeedback can be summed up simply - EEG sensors are used to monitor your brainwaves while a computer sends feedback to you. There are different ways to receive this feedback, ranging from playing a game to listening to music or watching a movie. The stimuli (game, music, or video) only operates smoothly when your brainwaves are functioning within an optimal range. This acts as a reward for your brain. When your brainwaves fire at a rate that’s not optimal, you’ll receive negative feedback (your movie pauses, the music stops, etc.). Neurofeedback acts like a mirror for your brain - telling your brain that something is out of balance and encouraging it to “figure out” how to return to a seamless movie, game or music. Your brain learns from this feedback over the course of your training program and can promote lasting structural changes. The brain then consistently operates within a more optimal range outside of your training sessions, alleviating your symptoms in your day to day life.
How can it help you? Neurofeedback addresses problems of brain dysregulation, which can be caused by a variety of factors such as trauma, chronic stress and brain injury. Neurofeedback can be used in the treatment of anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, ADHD, various sleep disorders, learning disorders, chronic pain, drug abuse and migraines. It is also useful for organic brain conditions such as seizures, the autism spectrum, and cerebral palsy.
For more information on neurofeedback and brainwaves please check out:
What is Neurofeedback? - Psychology Today
Neurofeedback Explained - Clear Mind Institute