Neurofeedback is biofeedback for the brain. Biofeedback is rooted in the idea that:
If we’re given information about our physical processes, we can CHANGE our physical processes.
Our bodies are conducting countless functions throughout the day that we’re largely unaware of. Biofeedback uses a variety of different equipment to measure these processes and feed back this information to the person. In neurofeedback, we target processes in the brain. While the neurotherapist has many decisions to make, for clients, the process is simple.
- While sitting in a comfortable chair, 3-5 tiny sensors (the size of a pencil eraser) are placed on your scalp over specific areas of the brain.
- We design a session plan based on your treatment goals.
- Specially designed software provides feedback as you produce the desired brain activity that supports the goals we set.
- Over time, we adjust the session plan to move you further along in meeting your goals.
In neurofeedback, we measure EEG brainwave activity. Different brainwave frequencies are associated with different states. Often, individuals experience difficulty because one or more of these frequencies is out of sync in specific areas of the brain. Such EEG patterns may make it difficult to shift attention, calm one’s self, maintain energy, ward off migraines, stay asleep, etc. The goal of neurofeedback is to facilitate a shift toward a more regulated EEG.
Audio-Visual Entrainment uses pulsing lights and/or tones to facilitate shifts toward a more regulated brain state.
Heart- Rate Variability Biofeedback
Research in the field of neurocardiology has demonstrated the crucial role our hearts have in regulating the mind-body system. The finding of cardiac neurons has led to much discussion about the “heart’s brain.” We now know that more signal is transmitted from the heart to the brain than from the brain to the heart. Heart-Rate Variability biofeedback is a powerful resource to improve the efficiency of this regulating system.
Feedback usually comes in the form of what appears to be a typical videogame. In neurofeedback, however, there is no game controller. You simply sit back as your brain plays the game! As with most video games, the reward is to earn beeps and game points. Others prefer to watch a movie where the reward is to keep the movie playing on the screen. In other types of neurofeedback, you may sit with eyes closed while your brain is rewarded by sounds of crashing waves or a waterfall.
The brain is an experiential organ. Everything we experience, think, and feel brings about a biochemical event in the brain. In neurofeedback we reward shifts in the brain’s functioning. Life’s challenges become easier to navigate when the brain learns ways to function more efficiently.
Neurofeedback sessions are more a time for feeling than thinking. Neurofeedback does not require a conscious effort on your part – your brain responds to the feedback all on its own. In fact, even coma patients respond to neurofeedback. Longtime neurotherapist Margaret Ayers worked with the late actor Rodney Dangerfield to nudge him out of a coma so he could experience his final moments with his wife.
Decades of data collection have provided a wealth of information about brainwave patterns. By simply taking a look at the EEG, we can predict areas of challenge a person is facing in their lives. Hundreds of papers have appeared in the scientific literature on this topic. The International Society for Neurofeedback and Research has compiled a comprehensive list of this research.
AD/HD is associated with very distinct brainwave patterns, and neurofeedback has repeatedly been shown to successfully shift these patterns. Neurofeedback allows the challenges of AD/HD to be experienced with more ease so that you may take advantage of AD/HD’s gifts. The American Academy of Pediatrics lists neurofeedback as a “best support” intervention for attention and hyperactivity behaviors.
At Stone Creek, we schedule clients at first for 20-session blocks. We recommend that these 20 sessions are completed at a frequency of at least twice weekly. According to the research, this is the minimum amount of sessions for neurotherapy to be effective and provide lasting results. Many times, 40, 60, or more sessions are required to achieve satisfactory results.
ANYONE of ANY AGE can benefit from optimizing their brain’s functioning. Athletes, artists, performers, and top executives have all benefited from Neurotherapy. There is evidence to support the use of Neurotherapy for conditions including:
- Sleep Problems
- Learning Disorders
- Head injury
- Chronic Pain
- Bipolar Disorder
- Social Difficulties
- Eating Disorders
- Sports Performance
- Cognitive Enhancement
The field of neurotherapy has advanced dramatically since its origins in the late 1950’s. Equipment and technology that were once only available in research institutions have now become available to independent clinicians in practice who are willing to pursue the rigorous training these techniques require.
WHAT SEPARATES NEUROTHERAPY FROM OTHER TYPES OF “BRAIN TRAINING”?
Brain-training games, tutoring, and cognitive training are “top-down” approaches intended to improve your functioning through having you practice certain skills. Neurotherapy works from the “bottom-up” by directly addressing the brain activity underlying your functioning.
Neurotherapy does not replace talk therapy. We rely heavily on talk therapy to enhance the neurotherapy process.
Medication is a helpful and often necessary resource for many who seek therapy. We routinely do neurotherapy with individuals who are prescribed medication. As clinicians, it is our responsibility to inform clients of the best treatment options, including those not always reimbursed by health insurance. The truth is that many individuals (1) remain on medications far too long while symptoms worsen, (2) take medications that are contraindicated, (3) needlessly experience side effects while on medications, and (4) are unaware of possible alternatives.
Years of unsuccessful medication management can be painfully discouraging. In neurotherapy, we provide the tools for your brain to heal itself. This can be a profoundly meaningful process.
Our primary source of information is your self report. The positive effects of neurotherapy should become observable in your life. Our software also allows us to observe shifts in your physiological functioning within and between sessions. We explain this information to you and design session plans accordingly. Often, we utilize the Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA). The TOVA provides information about your brain’s efficiency by monitoring how you respond to visual and auditory stimuli over a period of time.
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