In mental health disorders, brain wave patterns can become disrupted, leading to unhealthy biological activity and behavior. For example, people with anxiety disorders often have too much fast brain wave activity, which leaves them feeling on edge, hyper-aroused, and panicky. On the other hand, those with ADHD can have an excess of slower brain wave activity, resulting in symptoms like brain fog, daydreaming, and trouble focusing.
The goal of neurofeedback therapy is to help modulate these dysregulated brain wave patterns.
A typical neurofeedback session follows these basic steps:
Set goals for treatment. Goals are based on a patient’s condition and the type of neurofeedback system. For example, the goal of anxiety treatment may be to regulate fast brain wave activity so that a patient feels calmer and more relaxed after a session.
Measure brain wave activity. A clinician starts by placing electrodes on a patient’s scalp to obtain a real-time measurement of their brain waves (i.e. electroencephalography, or EEG). After set-up, the patient may watch a movie, play a video game, or listen to music as neurofeedback training begins.
Train the brain with positive feedback. When the EEG detects that a patient’s brain wave activity has met the goals of treatment, the brain is rewarded with positive feedback. For patients with anxiety, they may be rewarded with a larger movie screen, higher score on the video game, or pleasant audio feedback when their brain makes more of the slower alpha waves and less of the faster beta waves.
Repeat training. The EEG continues to monitor the patient’s brain waves and give positive feedback when goals of treatment are met. This training loop gives the brain thousands of opportunities to self-correct and be rewarded in one session.
Training the brain with positive feedback is based on the principles of learning theory, or operant conditioning, and is similar to how we train a dog to sit by rewarding it with a treat. Our brains, like animals, are constantly seeking rewards.
Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?
The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. The results depend on many factors, like whether the treatment is the right fit for a patient’s condition or the ability of the treatment to change a patient’s brain biology. For example, some people may not see benefits from neurofeedback because they are not using the right system for their needs.
Most of the clinicians in this field continue to use neurofeedback because they have seen it improve patients’ conditions when applied properly.
There are numerous studies that support its clinical use. In some studies, patients not only felt better after treatment, but imaging technology (i.e. fMRI) showed that the treatment actually changed patients’ brain function and structure.
Neurofeedback Therapy at NHA
Here at Neurohealth Associates, we specialize in Neurofeedback treatments. Neurofeedback may be helpful for treating your mind, especially if you are unsure about putting yourself or your child on medication. The easy, noninvasive treatments can painlessly improve your mental health condition and outlook on life. Schedule a consultation with NeuroHealth Associates today and find out how we can help you.
Original article posted by Suruchi Chandra, MD.Tags: brain health, brain mapping, Mental disorders, mental health, neurofeedback