Neurofeedback is an important treatment modality for optimal brain function. Most people have heard of biofeedback, and neurofeedback is computer-guided brain biofeedback. It utilizes the theory of Operant Conditioning to literally train the brain to function more normally on its own.
After a QEEG to determine which areas of the brain are functioning outside of the norm (please see our page on QEEG), neurofeedback can be used to gently train the brain to increase or decrease its own function in order to receive a reward. The reward can be being able to listen to pleasing sounds or music, or to be able to watch a movie, or play a game on the computer.
The brain does not control what happens in the reward, but just gets to decide if the reward plays or not. Since the brain inherently wants the reward, it figures out how to get it, and does what it takes to get it. Like a muscle that gets stronger the more you exercise it, neurofeedback “exercises” the brain to learn how to normalize itself! Obviously, choosing the right reward, the right brain wave parameters to reward, and the right treatment locations on the brain are essential to treatment success.
For example, if someone is anxious, they may have too much brain activity in the right frontal lobe. If the condition is chronic, it can be like the brain is stuck in the “on” position and has forgotten how to relax. With that part of the brain connected by painless electrodes from your scalp to the computer, parameters can be set where the brain will only get rewarded when it is generating relaxing brain waves. Patients don’t have to try or put out effort to make this happen. In fact, that can be counterproductive. As long as the reward is something that the patient likes, the brain will figure out how to do it all by itself! After the brain learns how to relax itself, this change is often very long-lasting. This process is completely safe and natural, and does not require prescription medications.
There are many psychiatric and neurologic conditions that EEG-guided neurofeedback has been found to be safe and effective in treating. We will discuss each case individually to decide on which treatment is right for you!