Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback that uses your brain wave patterns (obtained via live EEG recording) to help you become more calm and focused. Based on a large number of placebo-controlled research studies, neurofeedback harnesses your brain’s natural neuroplasticity system to improve your attention, focus, sleep, and mood.
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What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a computer-based method for improving memory, attention, mood, and sleep through providing the patient with information about his or her EEG pattern, and then rewarding normalization of brain wave activity through visual and auditory feedback. Each patient receieves a personalized neurofeedback protocol based on his or her symptoms (e.g., anxieety, insomnia, or attention deficit) and baseline abnormalities in neurocognitive tests and brain mapping (qEEG).
Does neurofeedback even work?
Yes. Several hundred studies have shown that patients with ADD or ADHD, memory loss, anxiety, insomnia, dizziness and vertigo, migraine, and depression achieve remarkable improvements within 3 months of treatment with neurofeedback. Neurofeedback has also been used to enhance learning and cognitive function in normal clients. The optimal training protocol involves 24 one-hour sessions that are usually performed twice a week for 12 weeks.
How long until you can start to see benefits of neurofeedback?
As with most forms of treatment, neurofeedback results will vary with each individual. The number of sessions that it takes to achieve results depends on the age of the client and the severity of his or her condition.
What happens during a neurofeedback session?
A neurofeedback session lasts approximately one hour. During your session, we will ask you to sit in front of a television screen as a neurofeedback specialist attaches sensors to specific locations on your scalp. You may choose to watch any movie or television show that we have available. As you watch, electrodes will record the activity of your brain and the screen will dim or flicker according to these patterns. Your brain is thus “rewarded” when your patterns are optimal. Through operant conditioning, your brain “learns” to be in a more calm and focused state. Neurofeedback does not require active involvement on your part; we simply ask you to sit quietly and watch your show. After the conclusion of your session, the specialist will remove the electrodes and clean off any residue that may remain.
Does neurofeedback involve medications or stimulation?
No. Neurofeedback enhances your brain’s natural abilities to improve itself without any medications or direct brain stimulation. These interventions help stimulate the growth of new pathways in your brain, producing long-lasting benefits.
Are there side effects?
When administered by a qualified specialist, neurofeedback training produces few, if any, negative side effects. There are few published reports of negative side effects. Clients usually find neurofeedback to be an interesting and engaging experience that feels good and is quite relaxing.
The Science Behind Neurofeedback
Sitaram, R. et al. (2017). Closed-loop brain training: the science of neurofeedback. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 18, 86–100.
Wigton, N., & Krigbaum, G. (2015). A Review of qEEG-Guided Neurofeedback. NeuroRegulation, 2(3), 149–155.
Ros, T. et al. (2014). Tuning pathological brain oscillations with neurofeedback: A systems neuroscience framework. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8(December), Article 1008.
Ghaziri, J. et al. (2013). Neurofeedback training induces changes in white and gray matter. Clinical EEG and Neuroscience, 44(August 2016), 265–72.
Thatcher, R. W. et al. (2003). Sensitivity and Specificity of on EEG Normative Database: Validation and Clinical Correlation. Journal of Neurotherapy, 7, 87–121.
Hughes, J. R., & John, E. R. (1999). Conventional and quantitative electroencephalography in psychiatry. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci, 11(2), 190–208.
Shaffer, F. et al. (2014). A healthy heart is not a metronome: an integrative review of the heart’s anatomy and heart rate variability. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(September), 1040.
Neurofeedback as treatment for ADHD
Snyder, S. M. et al. (2015). Integration of an EEG biomarker with a clinician’s ADHD evaluation. Brain and Behavior, 5(4), e00330.
Wigton, N. L., & Krigbaum, G. (2015). Attention, Executive Function, Behavior, and Electrocortical Function, Significantly Improved with 19-Channel Z-Score Neurofeedback in a Clinical Setting: A Pilot Study. Journal of Attention Disorders, First published date: March-30-2015.
Bakhshayesh, A. R. et al. (2011). Neurofeedback in ADHD: a single-blind randomized controlled trial. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 20(9), 481-491.
Duric, N. S. et al. (2012). Neurofeedback for the treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD: a randomized and controlled clinical trial using parental reports. BMC Psychiatry, 12:107.
Arns, M. et al. (2009). Efficacy of neurofeedback treatment in ADHD: the effects on inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity: a meta-analysis. Clinical EEG and Neuroscience 40(3), 180–189.
Sherlin, L. et al. (2010). A Position Paper on Neurofeedback for the Treatment of ADHD. Journal of Neurotherapy, 14(2), 66–78.
Gevensleben, H. et al. (2009). Is neurofeedback an efficacious treatment for ADHD? A randomised controlled clinical trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50(7), 780–789.
Gevensleben, H. et al. (2010). Neurofeedback training in children with ADHD: 6-month follow-up of a randomised controlled trial. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 19, 715–724.
Beauregard, M., & Lévesque, J. (2006). Functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation of the effects of neurofeedback training on the neural bases of selective attention and response inhibition in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 31(1), 3–20.
Meisel, V. et al. (2013). Neurofeedback and standard pharmacological intervention in ADHD: A randomized controlled trial with six-month follow-up. Biological Psychology, 95(1), 116-125.
Janssen, T. W. P., Bink, M. Geladé, K., Van Mourik, R., Maras, A., & Oosterlaan, J. (2016). A randomized controlled trial into the effects of neurofeedback, methylphenidate, and physical activity on EEG power spectra in children with ADHD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 57(5), 633-644.
Fuchs, T., Birbaumer, N. Lutzenberger, W., Gruzelier, J. H., & Kaiser, J. (2003). Neurofeedback Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children: A Comparison with Methylphenidate. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 28(1),-12.
Steiner, N. J., Frenette, E. C., Rene, K. M., Brennan, R. T., & Perrin, E. C. (2014). In-School Neurofeedback Training for ADHD: Sustained Improvements From a Randomized Control Trial. Pediatrics, 133(3), 483–492.
Neurofeedback as treatment for Depression and Anxiety
Dreis, S. M. et al. (2015). Using Neurofeedback to Lower Anxiety Symptoms Using Individualized qEEG Protocols: A Pilot Study. NeuroRegulation, 2(3), 137.
Linden, D. E. J., et al. (2012). Real-Time Self-Regulation of Emotion Networks in Patients with Depression, 7(6).
Walker, J. (2013). QEEG-Guided Neurofeedback for Anger/Anger Control Disorder. Journal of Neurotherapy, 17(February 2012), 88–92.
Kopřivová, J. et al. (2013). Prediction of Treatment Response and the Effect of Independent Component Neurofeedback in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Randomized, Sham-Controlled, Double-Blind Study. Neuropsychobiology, 67, 210–223.
Walker, J. E. (2009). Anxiety Associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—The Role of Quantitative Electroencephalograph in Diagnosis and in Guiding Neurofeedback Training to Remediate the Anxiety. Biofeedback, 37(2), 67–70.
Karavidas, M. (2008). Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback for Major Depression. Biofeedback, 36(1), 18–21.
Chalmers, J. A. et al. (2014). Anxiety Disorders Are Associated with Reduced Heart Rate Variability: A Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 5(July), 1–11.
Neurofeedback as treatment for Memory
Thornton, K. E., & Carmody, D. P. (2013). The Relation Between Memory Improvement and QEEG Changes in Three Clinical Groups as a Result of EEG Biofeedback Treatment. Journal of Neurotherapy, 17(2), 116–131.
Fotuhi, M., et al. (2016). A Personalized 12-week “Brain Fitness Program” for Improving Cognitive Function and Increasing the Volume of Hippocampus in Elderly with Mild Cognitive Impairment. The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2, 1–5.
Neurofeedback as Treatment for Migraines
Neurofeedback as Treatment for Sleep Issues
Cortoos, A. et al. (2010). An exploratory study on the effects of tele-neurofeedback and tele-biofeedback on objective and subjective sleep in patients with primary insomnia. Applied Psychophysiology Biofeedback, 35(2), 125–134.
Hammer, B. U. et al. (2011). Neurofeedback for insomnia: A pilot study of Z-score SMR and individualized protocols. Applied Psychophysiology Biofeedback, 36(4), 251–264.
Schabus, M. et al. (2014). Enhancing sleep quality and memory in insomnia using instrumental sensorimotor rhythm conditioning. Biological Psychology, 95, 126–134.