Neurofeedback training, neurotherapy, EEG biofeedback
Neurofeedback therapy is a technique that uses high-tech sensors on the scalp to provide real-time feedback about the brainwave activity of the user. With this feedback, the user can condition the brain to self-regulate its functions and thus perform better. It has been used successfully in the treatment of anxiety, depression, AD(H)D, sleep disorders, autism-spectrum conditions, seizures, and dozens more problems. It can also be used by neurotypical individuals who simply want to have more control over their brain's function.
Undergo neurotherapy with a trained professional for 20-40 sessions.
- Because of the complex equipment involved, neurofeedback training is not a do-it-yourself technique. Thus, the first step is to find an EEG provider. You can start by using the directory here. For a list of all the conditions that neurofeedback training might help, look here.
- When you are in your neurofeedback session, you will answer some questions so that the EEG technician can better understand your conditions and, thus, which brainwaves to target. She or he will place sensors on your scalp (this is painless) that are attached to a machine that processes the signal. This machine will display the feedback often in the form of a video game, which you will have to “play” using your brain. When the activity of the desirable brainwave frequency is increased, the video game will reward you; when the adverse occurs, the video game will “punish” you. The brain will begin to answer these prompts and thus be trained in new brainwave patterns: patterns that are healthier and more optimal.
- After about twenty to forty of these sessions, the brain should be “trained.” These results are not temporary–they will stay with you! However, sometimes individuals need “boosters”–you can talk to your provider if this is something you are interested in.
Psychiatrists in the early 20th century discovered brainwave activity and attempted to analyze it, but it wasn't until the 1960s when Joe Kamiya published a paper with the results of a primitive neurofeedback experiment that trained people to go into alpha brainwave mode. During the 60s and early 70s, biofeedback caught on with the human potential movement, and forms of training other sorts of brainwaves were developed. In the early 1990s, EEG biofeedback (the specific monitoring of brainwaves instead of heart rate, sweating, or other biological responses) rose within the field of biofeedback as it began to be used in the treatment of addiction, depression and AD(H)D.
Although neurotherapy helps the brain to function better, it is not capable of curing any of the conditions it treats. Your EEG provider, because she or he is most likely going to be a trained psychologist, counselor, or therapist, must know the details of your condition so as to ascertain if further treatment beyond EEG is necessary.
Some people (often estimated as high as 20% of the population) unfortunately do not respond to neurofeedback.
Many insurance providers cover EEG biofeedback. Check with yours.
It is possible to buy neurofeedback equipment and train yourself to use it. This is costly, but is often a helpful measure for parents of children with autism or severe AD(H)D.