Neurofeedback

What it is and what it can do for you and the people you love

“Improvements using neurofeedback have proven to be nearly equal to the improvements resulting from medication when treating ADHD, but with a very different approach”

What is Neurofeedback?

It is biofeedback for the brain and the body. It is a painless and drug-free way of helping an injured brain return to a healthy state.Neurofeedback helps the brain to do a better job of regulating itself and the body. Fatigue, confusion, ADD, depression, and fibromyalgia are not “lack of willpower.”They are symptoms of brain injury and can be addressed with EEG Neurofeedback.We specialize in a low-energy neurofeedback system which commonly produces observable results more quickly than more traditional biofeedback techniques. However, both systems have advantages. The neurofeedback system we specialize in requires no conscious effort from the client. Like AAA, it is a rescue service, intended to pull you out of the ditch and speed you on your way. It doesn’t teach you how to drive, it simply rescues and repairs. Traditional neurofeedback is an educational and training process. It teaches you how to recognize, control and work with your own brainwaves in your daily life.

What are Brainwaves?

Like other computers, the brain gives off tiny impulses that appear as electrical waves. The raw EEG can be separated into waves that vibrate at different rates or frequencies; beta (fastest) to alpha, theta, and delta (slowest). Brainwaves should be faster at front, slower at back; faster at left and slower at right. A “backwards brain” (slow at front and left, fast at back and right) tends to be depressed and anxious. Brainwave slowing suggests brain injury and impairs normal brain function.

What is Brainwave Slowing?

Faster brainwaves focus attention, enable planning, organization, and quick wits. They also need more oxygen and more nutrients than slower, dreamier waves. After trauma, fever, bad diet, or exposure to drugs / toxins, brainwaves may slow to whatever energy level can be supported based on available nutrients. The slower the brainwaves, the more foggy, fatigued, and depressed a person may be. Brainwave slowing is like hibernation, a great way to survive, but a poor way to live. “Hibernating” or traumatized brain cells may not know it is safe to wake up again or even how to do it. Neurofeedback can reawaken and help the brain, and the body it controls, along the road to recovery.

What is Involved?

The neurofeedback process involves three small sensors and an extremely low power radio wave (Many times smaller than that of a cell phone).

Brain Mapping: Detailed client history and mapping of 19 sites, depending on patient sensitivity / reactivity.

Offset Evaluation: Tests suitability for treatment and probable speed of response.

Neurofeedback: A dialogue between the computer and the client’s brain that may seem entirely passive from the clients perspective. Results are often seen within three to five sessions.

What Are the Results?

Clients routinely report greatly reduced pain and anxiety, with greatly improved clarity, organizational skills, emotional self-control. You can expect improvement in a range of conditions as diverse as traumatic head injury (TBI), migraines, fibromyalgia and PMS. Depression and ADD often improve as side-effects of treating physical disorders.

See www.aboutneurofeedback.com for more information including an extensive bibliography of research articles in the medical literature.

Multiple symptoms from the list below (with no obvious physical explanations) may indicate injury to brain or central nervous system. Brain injury can occur in the course of learning to walk, through sports or auto accidents, with stroke, infections or high fever, environmental toxins / drugs (including MSG and artificial sweeteners), following abuse or severe emotional stress.

Sensory and Emotional Issues

  • Sensitivity to lights or sound
  • Loss or change in sense of smell
  • Problems focusing / converging eyes
  • Problems following conversations
  • Problems with sense of touch
  • Sudden, unexplained changes in mood
  • Loss of sense of humor
  • Loss of former interests / recreations

Memory and Focus

  • “Fogginess” and confusion; lack of clarity
  • Forgetting what you are doing
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Difficulty learning new things
  • Difficulty learning from experience
  • Difficulty reading or comprehending text
  • Problems with sequencing and prioritizing
  • Procrastination / lack of initiative
  • Not finishing projects
  • Disorganization (room, office, paperwork)
  • Getting lost in daydreams
  • Not understanding what was said or asked
  • Fatigue during the day
  • Problems with speech or finding words

Pain and Other Physical Dysfunction

  • Unexplained pain in head or limbs
  • All-over body pain; fibromyalgia
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Insomnia or disturbed night-time sleep

Types of Brainwaves

Brainwaves are commonly divided into several frequency bands. The different bands are correlated with different types of mental activity. Listed below are the frequency bands that are most commonly trained using Neurofeedback.

(The abbreviation Hz stands for Hertz, or cycles per second.)
Beta 13-40 Hz. Alertness, focus, and quick thinking.
Typical of fully functioning adult frontal lobes. Too much beta (especially at back or right of head) brings anxiety and sleep problems.

Alpha 8-12 Hz. Relaxation, daydreams, reverie.
Frontal alpha causes depression and anxiety, and is typical of fibromyalgia and fibro-fog.

Theta 4-7 Hz. Creativity and deep memories.
Appears as drowsiness increases. Too much theta is linked to ADD and depression.

Delta 0.5-4 Hz. Normal in babies and in very young children.
In normal adults, seen only in deep sleep. When strongly present in waking adults, associated with severe fatigue, fogginess, and depression.

Normal vs. Brainwave Slowing.
Frontal alpha of 12 Hz
can cause “functional” depression; you may feel terrible but still manage to get up and go to work.
Brains with frontal dominant frequencies of 8 Hz or slower (theta) may be unable to drag out of bed at all.

Neurofeedback IS an ‘Evidence-Based’ treatment for ADHD.

Nijmegen, July 16th 2009 – Neurofeedback – also called EEG Biofeedback – is a method used to train brain activity in order to normalize Brain function and treat psychiatric disorders. This treatment method has gained interest over the last 10 years, however the question whether this treatment should be regarded as an Evidence-Based treatment was unanswered until now. Tomorrow a study will be published in the scientific journal ‘EEG and Clinical Neuroscience’ demonstrating that Neurofeedback can indeed be regarded as an evidence-based treatment for Attention Deficit- / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Neurofeedback is a treatment where real-time feedback is provided for specific brain activity (most often EEG) in order to learn the brain to suppress or produce specific brain activity. This method was initially discovered for the treatment of Epilepsy and from 1976 investigated further for the treatment ofADHD. This technique has become more popular by clinicians worldwide, and is currently provided for the treatment of several disorders. Critics have often questioned the efficacy of Neurofeedback and whether it can be considered an Evidence Based treatment or not.

In collaboration with researchers from Tübingen University (Germany), Radboud University (Nijmegen, the Netherlands), Brainclinics and EEG Resource Institute a so-called meta-analysis was conducted on all published research about Neurofeedback treatment in ADHD. This meta-analysis included 15 studies and 1194 ADHD patients. Based on this study – which will be published in the July issue of EEG and Clinical Neuroscience – it could be concluded that Neurofeedback can indeed be considered an Evidence-Based treatment for ADHD. The results show that neurofeedback treatment has large and clinically significant effects on Impulsivity and Inattention and a modest improvement of Hyperactivity.

These findings apply to Neurofeedback treatment for ADHD, but do not automatically imply that Neurofeedback can be considered evidence based for any disorder. The efficacy of Neurofeedback has to be assessed separately for each disorder. For example, a meta-analysis of EEG biofeedback in Epilepsy is published in the same issue of EEG and Clinical Neuroscience demonstrating clinical
efficacy in the treatment of epilepsy.

Interested clients are advised to make an informed choice regarding Neurofeedback therapists, since there is a large heterogeneity in neurofeedback treatment approaches and clinicians. It is advised to look for psychologists or physicians who are a member of a professional organization such as the international Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR:www.isnr.org) or other professional organizations.

Literature

Arns, M., de Ridder, S., Strehl, U., Breteler, M. & Coenen, A. Efficacy of Neurofeedback Treatment in ADHD: The
effects on Inattention, Impulsivity and Hyperactivity: a Meta-Analysis. EEG and Clinical Neuroscience; 40(3), 180-189.

What actually happens in the brain of an ADHD person?

When we concentrate, we increase fast brain wave activity in a certain part of our brain. With people who have ADHD we often see this brain activity slow down. Where ‘normal’ people’s brains focus their attention when they concentrate, the brains of people people with ADHD become sleepier slower, and more easily distracted when they attempt to concentrate.

Neurofeedback or Medication for ADHD?

Medication is often prescribed because of its effectiveness and its well known results. Neurofeedback is fairly new in the psychotherapy field and and less commonly used by practitioners.

The advantages of neurofeedback

  • Treatment of ADHD symptoms without medication
  • A long-term and sustained effect by operant conditioning
  • No unpleasant side effects
  • Improvement of memory, ability to concentrate and sleep
  • A one time only investment

The disadvantages of neurofeedback

  • Costs aren’t always compensated by health insurance
  • Effective for 70% with clients in treatment

The disadvantages of medication

  • Medication often needs to be taken for life
  • Medication is always to be taken at the same time of day, which can be difficult to remember
  • The effect is temporary
  • Rebound phenomena
  • Finding the appropriate medication can be a lengthy process of trial and error
  • Costs aren’t always compensated by health insurance
  • Many side effects, including addiction to medication, depression, the emergence of tics, cardiovascular problems, inhibition of growth and shrinkage of the brain.

Extra risks of medication

  • There are known cases where ADHD-medication has been linked with patient death and a higher risk of suicide.

Advantages of medication

  • Quick effect
  • Easy access

Neurofeedback and Autism

Neurofeedback and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)