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WHAT IS NEUROFEEDBACK?

 

The human brain is a marvellous device which has more connections than there are planets in the universe! Despite its complexity over the last 50 years we have been learning how to change brain patterns by training the brain to work in optimal speeds for the task at hand. By changing the way the brain functions, behaviour also changes.

 

The beauty of Neurofeedback is it is a drug-free,painless, non-invasive technique used to teach the brain self-regulation and as a result improve functioning.

If your brain was the engine of a car, we are talking about tuning it up to run better. If it is revving up when it is parked at the traffic lights it is inefficient; but if the light turns green and the car does not rev up it is not working properly.

 

 

 

Anxiety conditions have the brain revving all the time, and some types of ADHD have the brain in idling mode.

 

 

 

 

HOW DO WE KNOW WHAT TO TREAT?

 

There are various models of doing Neurofeedback but the most effective way consists of a two part process. Step one is to have an assessment of your brain function. This is done by either using symptom questionnaires or preferably conducting a clinical qEEG (note - a qEEG is not a medical EEG for brain dysfunctions and if you have a problem like epilepsy or other concerns see a neurologist prior to starting treatment). Below you will find a short video of what a qEEG looks like. Once the qEEG is completed the way the brain operates can be determined.

Using the car analogue, telling a mechanic about the symptoms is helpful but hooking the engine up to an electronic monitoring device gets precision results.  The qEEG allows us to get a measure of the overall brain functioning.

 

HOW IS NEUROFEEDBACK CONDUCTED?

 

To do the Neurofeedback small sensors are attached to your head and held in place with tiny blob of special paste (about the same size as a pea). These are located over the area which is going to be trained. There are also sensors place on the ears as reference point. Note that these sensors read the brain activity they don’t have any current to shock you!

The most important part of Neurofeedback is that you get real-time feedback display of your brainwave activity. This is shown on a screen to technician but you will be doing an activity which gives feedback. This may be a game activity or a movie which goes “snowy” when off frequency and clear when on frequency. Measurements of brainwave activity are displayed back to the client through simplified visual and audio displays (i.e. video games, movies etc).  This feedback allows your brain to change.

 

TREATMENT LENGTH:

 

Treatment length is difficult to determine until you've had the initial consult and begin Neurofeedback sessions.

However many clients have experience significant improvements after completing between 10 - 20 sessions. Some have reported improvements even after the first session!

However, realistically 20 – 40 sessions are often needed for sustained improvement. In complex conditions like autism, they may need 60 – 80 sessions to address the issues. It is not a quick fix but I would liken it to going to an orthodontist -their goal is to straighten teeth over 1 or more years of treatment to have lasting impact. The cost is not cheap but the long-term outcome is worth it.

 

WHAT CONDITIONS DOES IT WORK FOR?

 

There is mounting evidence that Neurofeedback has versatile across a range of conditions.  Recently the American Paediatric association listed biofeedback (Neurofeedback) as a number one level evidence based treatment for ADHD. It is being used for improving autism, learning difficulties, and other developmental problems. It is found to be helpful in anxiety, depression, and addictions. It is has been found to help stabilise some people with epilepsy. It has been shown to speed recovery after concussion, and may help reactive areas of brain which have been damaged. Interesting it is also used to help achieve peak performance for athletes and business executives.

 

IMPORTANCE OF CERTIFICATION

People of various qualifications and experiences are conducting neurofeedback. It is important that you only entrust your brain treatment to someone who is experienced and certified. I have certification by both the Biofeedback Association of America (BCIA-A) and the QEEG Certification board of America (QEEG Certification Board).

 

Some interesting Articles

 

Train your brain with neurofeedback

http://www.wellbeing.com.au/article/Features/Mind-Health/Train-your-brain-with-neurofeedback_1446

 

Neurofeedback Increases Affection, Builds Empathy

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/neurofeedback-increases-affection-builds-empathy/