Myths vs. Facts
Myth #1: There is no research available.
Fact: There are hundreds of articles published in peer-reviewed journals exploring neurofeedback and biofeedback by neuroscientists worldwide. The International Society for Neuronal Regulation is a worldwide society of neuroscientists dedicated to improving brain function. In addition, continued research is being conducted by neuroscientists around the world to further our understanding of neurofeedback applications.
Myth #2: The person doing neurofeedback “consciously learns” how to control their own brainwaves.
Fact: The person doing neurofeedback does not learn how to control their brain wave activity. THE BRAIN learns how to control its own activity through conditioning and reinforcement..much like a gymnast’s brain learns how to keep the person on the balance beam more effectively with practice. The gymnast’s brain is continuously being “informed” about whether it (the brain) is doing it “right” and learns to repeat this. The only thing that the gymnast knows is that he/she wants to stay on the balance beam.
Myth #3: Neurofeedback is “magic” and can solve all of the world’s problems.
Fact: Neurofeedback can be quite effective in many cases, but it is important to remember that there is about a 15-20% non-response rate and its impact on certain cases (e.g., brain damage, autism, etc.) will be less than that typically seen for a healthy brain that is having some cognitive/mood issues. It is, like many other approaches, not considered to be “curative”. Furthermore, life problems, family issues, and other factors can play a part in a person’s symptoms, in addition to a brain regulation problem. That’s why it is important to treat the entire person from what is called a “bio-psycho-social” perspective, which sometimes includes cognitive therapy.
Myth #4: All neurofeedback is created equal.
Fact: There are almost an infinite number of ways to do neurofeedback with all of the detailed mathematical adjustments that can be made to the protocol. This is where expertise and a sophisticated analysis are essential so that the training is “fitted” to what the brain needs help with the most. That is why we won’t proceed with treatment without an evaluation and brain map.
Myth #5: If the patient does not start to show some signs of progress within 4 weeks then neurofeedback won’t be helpful for that person.
Fact: It is true that some people, approximately 40%, are quicker responders and will show developing improvements within the first month. However, another 40% of patients are more gradual in their response and need to complete 8-10 weeks of treatment for improvements to show and for us to determine their expected “training trajectory” and rate of progress. Comparison testing helps us determine the rate and amount of progress.
Myth #6: Neurofeedback and medication cannot co-exist, and I have to choose one or the other.
Fact: Both neurofeedback and medication can help brain function and, in certain cases, can be combined. Often, the brain is regulating much better after having done neurofeedback. Brain mapping data can also help us understand what medication the brain may be more responsive to.
Myth #7: Neurofeedback is invasive.
Fact: Neurofeedback is a non-invasive biological conditioning and learning technique. The brain emulates and copies, as well as gets reinforced for producing, certain brain wave rhythms. In this way it is much different and nothing like psychiatric methods that send a strong form of electricity to the brain (e.g., ECT, TMS etc). Consequently, neurofeedback’s training focus has made it popular amongst amateur and professional athletes, NASA pilots, Olympic training programs, and other areas of peak performance where brain performance needs to be enhanced.