The Science of Neurofeedback: Rewiring the Brain for Better Health

Neurofeedback therapy helps us better understand and manage our brain activity. There’s a growing interest worldwide in using neurofeedback for both personal growth and therapeutic purposes.

What is Neurofeedback Therapy? 

Neurofeedback, also referred to as neurotherapy or biofeedback, is a non-invasive and therapeutic technique designed to improve brain function and, subsequently, overall health. At its core, neurofeedback involves real-time monitoring and feedback of a person’s brainwave activity. Through a series of brain training tasks, it helps individuals learn to regulate their brain activity, leading to potential improvements in various aspects of health, including mental well-being and cognitive performance.

The Brain and Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s remarkable ability to adapt, change, and rewire itself throughout a person’s life. This dynamic characteristic of the brain means that it can learn, grow, and adapt to new experiences, environments, and challenges. In the context of neurofeedback, neuroplasticity is the foundation upon which the therapy is built. By leveraging the brain’s plasticity, neurofeedback aims to help individuals reshape their neural pathways for better health and performance.

How does Neurofeedback Work? 

Neurofeedback relies on advanced technologies, with electroencephalogram (EEG) being one of the primary tools used. An EEG is a non-invasive device that records electrical activity in the brain. During a neurofeedback session, electrodes are attached to the individual’s scalp through a cap (similar in look and feel to a swimming cap). This will then monitor their brainwave patterns.

The brain operates on different frequencies known as brainwaves, each associated with specific mental states. These include:

  • Delta waves (0.5-3 Hz): Associated with deep sleep and unconsciousness.
  • Theta waves (3-8 Hz): Linked to relaxation and daydreaming.
  • Alpha waves (8-13 Hz): Indicative of a relaxed but alert state.
  • Beta waves (13-30 Hz): Associated with active, analytical thought.
  • Gamma waves (30-100 Hz): Linked to peak cognitive and creative states.

In a neurofeedback session, the client is presented with real-time information about their brainwave activity. Through visual or auditory feedback, they learn to consciously adjust their brainwave patterns. Over time, this process can lead to improved self-regulation, reducing symptoms associated with various conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

How Effective is Neurofeedback Therapy?

In most cases, neurofeedback is highly effective and provides visible results. How successful the therapy is will depend on a range of factors, but generally speaking, it works best for clients who are motivated and genuinely want to improve. 

A key benefit of neurofeedback therapy is that the results are long lasting. Think of neurofeedback as a way to build skills, much like learning a musical instrument. Once you’ve acquired these skills, they tend to stay with you as long as you get enough rest and avoid prolonged periods of extreme stress. It’s also beneficial to maintain your progress by following a healthy diet to nourish your brain properly and minimising your consumption of alcohol and other substances that can harm your brain.

Neurofeedback in Practice

If you’re interested in getting neurotherapy, the first step is to get in touch with a neurofeedback therapy clinic. Once you’re in contact, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions about the process and find out how your chosen clinic is run. This will also give the practitioners a chance to get to know you and your goals.

The second step is to create a tailored brain training program. This involves using a QEEG brain map, consisting of a set of sensors attached to a cap. These sensors record your brainwaves, providing useful insights into your brain activity. The data collected in this step will be used to design a brain training program tailored to your needs.

In your neurofeedback therapy session, a trained therapist will guide you through the activities while a sensor cap measures your brain activity. You will be provided live feedback based on your brain’s electrical signals. These will appear in the form of visual displays, games, or music. Through a range of brain training activities, you will teach your brain to self-regulate, with the goal being to achieve improved focus, relaxation, or other desired mental states. The neurofeedback therapist will carefully monitor your progress and tweak the training, if necessary, to help you achieve your goals. 

Choosing a qualified neurofeedback practitioner

Choosing a qualified neurofeedback practitioner is crucial. They should have the necessary training and experience to provide effective and safe neurofeedback sessions. Before starting any neurofeedback program, you should consult with a healthcare professional to discuss your goals and determine if neurofeedback is a suitable option for you.

References

  1. https://www.brainmaster.com/software/pubs/brain/Hammond%20JAdultDevelop.pdf

The Coach Space

Add comment

Relationships