What Can Neurofeedback Do For You?
Neurofeedback is a training method that helps you increase your attention span, enhance mood, improve sleep, and maximize relaxation.
- Stabilize mood
- Improve sleep
- Improve memory
- Processing speed
- Academic performance
- Sports performance
- Decrease racing thoughts
- Reduce the effects of stress
How does neurofeedback work?
When you consider that some people have normal eyesight and some have problems with their vision, it is not hard to imagine that the same applies to the brain. Although most people have normal brain function, there are many who have imbalances that affect everyday functions. This is where neurofeedback can help.
To understand neurofeedback, let’s first look at the brain. Our brain has billions of brain cells that communicate through trillions of interconnections. Brain cells communicate with one another, in part, through a constant storm of electrochemical impulses. We can measure and record this brain electrical activity through sensors on the scalp and specialized computer software. This gives a measure of brain activity and function, much as measuring heart function with an EKG gives us information about heart function.
Brain waves are grouped into 4 main categories called beta, alpha, theta, and delta. See the Brain Map page for more information.
When the brain is operating normally, it moves efficiently from one brain wave to another depending on the task at hand. For example, when someone is engaged in conversation, they are in an alert, beta brain wave state. If they go to bed soon after, they easily slip into the sleep state characterized by drowsy delta brain waves.
If someone is in a state of brain imbalance, the brain does not shift from one state to the other properly. It this case the brain would be drowsy or daydreaming when trying to focus on a conversation or wide awake with racing thoughts when trying to fall asleep.
In a neurofeedback session, you are connected to head sensors that read your brain waves. The brainwave activity is fed back to you in the form of a video game, music, tone or movie on the computer screen. When you are in the desired brainwave state, you are rewarded with a positive response. This can be in the form of a movie or music playing continuously, or with accumulation of points when playing a game. For example, the neurofeedback screen of a race car will only accelerate and stay on course and let you score when you are focused and relaxed. The game will not accelerate and crash if you are daydreaming or stressed.
Progress is tracked in session graphs and a second brain map, which indicate that learning has taken place. With time and repetition, the brain will adapt to the new, more effective pattern. You will soon be able to increase your attention span and your ability to relax without the need for the neurofeedback equipment. Think of it as exercise for your brain!
The brain map image on the left shows excessive theta (daydreaming) waves in the red areas. The brain map image on the right shows the ideal level of theta waves in green.
The Neurofeedback Protocol
It is extremely important to use the correct neurofeedback training protocol, which depends on the individual’s unique brain wave patterns over the entire brain. To determine these patterns, a brain map is performed on the individual. See the Brain Map page for more information. Once the practitioner analyzes the results of the brain map, the individualized protocol is determined. The protocol specifies the exact placement of the scalp sensors and the brainwave frequencies that will be trained. The results are monitored throughout each session and across sessions, and the protocol is updated when necessary.
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