Neurofeedback Therapy Exercises the Brain

Neurofeedback has been used successfully for many years as an alternative or adjunct to medication.  It quells the symptoms related to many emotional and behavioral challenges.  Patients who are experiencing anxiety, ADHD, anger/rage, impulsivity, depression, OCD, mood dysregulation, migraines and sleep issues can find relief with this proven technique.

A neurofeedback session is like taking your brain to the gym for a workout.  Neurofeedback therapy strengthens the brain, allowing it to function optimally.  The prefrontal cortex of the brain (located above the eyebrows) is in charge of regulating emotion, impulsivity and attention/focus.  It’s involved with motivation, mood regulation, planning and organization of thoughts and actions, and the ability to foresee consequences.  When the prefrontal cortex is not functioning optimally, an individual experiences difficulty in these areas. 

Because it strengthens the prefrontal cortex, neurofeedback allows a person respond with an appropriate level of emotion/behavior given the situation.  Neurofeedback can significantly reduce anxiety, depression, symptoms of ADD and ADHD, and emotional outbursts.  It can improve motivation, impulse control, and the ability to handle day-to-day stressors.

There are several types of neurofeedback.  Our office predominantly utilizes pIR-HEG (passive infrared hemoencephalography) and also offers Infra-Low Frequency EEG (electroencephalography).  During an initial session, your therapist will determine which will best address your needs.

What to Expect from Your Neurofeedback Therapy Session

The neurofeedback therapy process is simple.  The patient simply watches a movie with a headset on his forehead.  The headset has two infrared sensors that measure the amount of energy the prefrontal cortex is putting out. It doesn’t put anything into your brain nor does it take anything from your brain.  It’s like stepping on a scale; the scale tells you how much you weigh.  The sensors tell us how strongly your prefrontal cortex is working.

When the patient gets engaged in the movie, the limbic system (the emotional component of the brain) becomes more active and the prefrontal cortex (the decision-making part of the brain) naturally slows down. 

The sensors register less activity, which pauses the movie.  A blue bar comes up on the side of the screen and the patient has to raise the bar to turn the movie back on.  The patient does that by becoming peaceful, calm and focused.  This shift in focus increases the prefrontal cortex activity and decreases the limbic system activity.  When that shift occurs, the movie turns back on.

You can see how neurofeedback therapy is like doing reps with weights at the gym.  This brain exercise strengthens the prefrontal cortex while increasing flexibility in the brain.  This new strength and flexibility give you the capacity to handle life more effectively.

The outcome is overall better functioning and a significant decrease in problematic symptoms!

Why Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?

Neurofeedback therapy does two things—it creates more flexibility in the brain by consistently flipping brains states from limbic to prefrontal cortex repeatedly throughout the session.  As a result, the brain learns how to “go with the flow” so the person can handle things not going according to plan and can adjust without the emotional upheaval.

Secondly, the prefrontal cortex is strengthened and restored as the dominant lobe so that it can efficiently do all the things it is meant to do.  For example, a person can experience emotions appropriately so that anxiety, depression and anger/rage are controllable. The ability to focus is greatly enhanced (especially for ADHD individuals) and so is impulse control.  These are only a few of the improvements patients have reported.

What Conditions are Improved by Neurofeedback Therapy?

You know exercise is important to keep your body strong and functioning optimally.  Well, neurofeedback is exercise for your brain because it “works out” the prefrontal cortex of the brain.  Many issues require a stronger prefrontal cortex.  Both children and adults with these issues can improve significantly with the help of neurofeedback therapy.

  • Anxiety / Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • ADD / ADHD
  • OCD
  • Sleep issues
  • Anger / Rage
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Trichotillomania
  • Headaches / Migraines
  • Asperger’s / Spectrum Disorders
  • Motivation issues
  • Behavioral Meltdowns
  • Irritability
  • Negative thinking

Who Can Benefit from Neurofeedback?

There are no age limitations with neurofeedback treatments.  We work with individuals of all ages: children, adolescents and adults.  Anyone struggling with emotional or behavioral disorders should investigate neurofeedback.  When improvements occur, everyone benefits.

Are Improvements from Neurofeedback Therapy Permanent?

For most people, the changes are permanent.  For some people, maintenance sessions are sometimes needed to keep the brain on track.  For example, sometimes after a growth spurt a child may need a “re-boot” for the brain’s hard drive.  Certain disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Tourette Syndrome or OCD are more likely to need follow-up maintenance or “booster” sessions.

What Happens if Neurofeedback Patients are Taking Medications?

Medications do not interfere with neurofeedback therapy.  Often, with successful neurofeedback training, medications targeting brain function may no longer be needed, or they may be needed at lower doses as the brain functions more effectively on its own.  It’s important for patients to talk with their prescribing physician regarding their medications.

If Neurofeedback is so Effective, Why Haven’t I Heard About it Before?

Although it has been used effectively for decades, neurofeedback therapy is not yet taught in most medical schools or psychology graduate programs.  Many professionals are therefore unaware of the power of this technique.  The field is growing rapidly and as it does, more professionals are becoming informed and educated about neurofeedback.