Neurofeedback of North Idaho
What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is direct training of brain function, by which the brain learns to function more efficiently. We observe the brain in action from moment to moment. We show that information back to the person. And we reward the brain for changing its own activity to more appropriate patterns. This is a gradual learning process. It applies to any aspect of brain function that we can measure. Neurofeedback is also called EEG Biofeedback, because it is based on electrical brain activity, the electroencephalogram, or EEG. Neurofeedback is training in self-regulation. It is simply biofeedback applied to the brain directly. Self-regulation is a necessary part of good brain function. Self-regulation training allows the system (the central nervous system) to function better.
Neurofeedback addresses problems of brain disregulation. These happen to be numerous. They include the anxiety-depression spectrum, attention deficits, behavior disorders, various sleep disorders, headaches and migraines, PMS and emotional disturbances. It is also useful for organic brain conditions such as seizures, the autism spectrum, and cerebral palsy.
How can neurofeedback help?
Over the years, certain neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback) training protocols have been developed that are helpful with certain classes of problems such as attention, anxiety and depression, seizures and migraines, as well as cognitive function. There are a number of assessment tools we use to help us decide which protocols to use. These are simple neurodiagnostic and neuropsychological tests.
Is neurofeedback right for me?
Neurofeedback provides help for many who otherwise find little or no effecitive treatment for their problems or conditions. Brain training allows doctors, therapists, and other practitioners a powerful means of improving behavior and relieving symptoms.
How does neurofeedback work?
We apply electrodes to the scalp to listen in on brainwave activity. We process the signal by computer, and we extract information about certain key brainwave frequencies. (All brainwave frequencies are equal, but some are more equal than others...) We show the ebb and flow of this activity back to the person, who attempts to change the activity level. Some frequencies we wish to promote. Others we wish to diminish. We present this information to the person in the form of a video game. The person is effectively playing the video game with his or her brain. Eventually the brainwave activity is "shaped" toward more desirable, more regulated performance. The frequencies we target, and the specific locations on the scalp where we listen in on the brain, are specific to the conditions we are trying to address, and specific to the individual.
How effective is it?
Is it a cure? In the case of organic brain disorders, it can only be a matter of getting the brain to function better rather than of curing the condition. When it comes to problems of disregulation, we would say that there is not a disease to be cured. Where disregulation is the problem, self-regulation may very well be the remedy. But again the word cure would not apply. What conditions can it help? We are especially concerned with the more "intractable" brain-based problems of childhood whose needs are not currently being met. This includes, Seizures and sub-clinical seizure activity, Severely disruptive behavior disorders such as Conduct Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, Autistic spectrum and pervasive developmental delay, Cerebral palsy, Acquired brain injury, Birth trauma. Many children have sleep problems that can be helped such as Bed wetting, Sleep walking, sleep talking, Teeth grinding, Nightmares, Night terrors. We can also be helpful with many of the problems of adolescence including Drug abuse, Suicidal behavior, Anxiety and depression. We can also help to maintain good brain function as people get older. The good news is that almost any brain, regardless of its level of function, can be trained to function better. Do Training Effects Last? If the problem being addressed is one of brain disregulation, then the answer is yes, and that covers a lot of ground. Neurofeedback involves learning by the brain and if that brings order out of disorder, the brain will continue to use its new capabilities, and thus reinforce them. Matters are different when we are dealing with degenerative conditions like Parkinson's or the dementias, or when we are working against continuing insults to the system, as may be the case in the autism spectrum. In such cases the training needs to be continued at some level over time. Allergic susceptibilities and food intolerances make it more difficult to hold the gains. Poor digestive function will pose a problem, as does poor nutrition. A child living in a toxic environment (in either the physical or the psychological sense) will have more difficulty retaining good function. What about medications? With successful neurofeedback training, the medications targeting brain function may very well no longer be needed, or they may be needed at lower dosages, as the brain takes over more of the role of regulating itself. This decrease in medications is particularly striking when the medications play a supportive role in any event, as is often the case for the more severe disorders that we are targeting with our work. It is important for clients to communicate with their prescribing physician regarding neurofeedback and medications.
What is the research supporting neurofeedback?
The American Academy of Pediatrics placed neurofeedback as a level 1 "Best Support" Intervention for ADHD (Attention and Hyperactivity Behaviors). The National Institute of Health lists more than 8,500 peer-reviewed publications in biofeedback, 450 in neurofeedback, and 130,000 scentific publications on EEG.
"We’re at an extraordinary moment where the entire scientific foundation for mental health is shifting, with the 20th century discipline of psychiatry becoming the 21st century discipline of clinical neuroscience." Thomas Insel, head of the National Institute of Mental Health
There is very specific research abstracts regarding ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Biofeedback (non-EEG), Bipolar & Schizophrenia, Cerebral Palsy, Chronic Fatigue, Chronic Pain, Complimentary modalities, Depression, Dissociative Disorders, Epilepsy, Functional Magnetic Resonance Neurofeedback, General Neurophysiology, Head Injury, Infr-Low Frequency Training, Learning Disorders, Migraines, Movement Disorders, OCD & Tourette's, PMS, PTSD, QEEG & Related Research, Sleep, Special Topics, Stroke, Substance Abuse/Addiction, and Violence. For more information regarding this research, visit www.eeginfo.com.
Is neurofeedback safe?
Yes, neurofeedback is completely non-intrusive and safe. In the same way that muscles strengthen after use, neurofeedback strengthens neural-pathways with specifically tailored exercises. It is simply a learning technique. In the 40 year history of neurofeedback, nobody has ever been harmed. However, as with any form of exercise, there can be 'side-effects' (such as increased fatigue for a short period of time as your brain adjusts to what is happening).
How soon will I see changes?
As with learning any new skill, the effects are cumulative. Most people really start to notice changes around the 3rd session.
As the psychological core improves, old habits naturally shift into healthier ones. Like building a muscle, strenghening new neural-pathways requires some practice.
How many sessions will I need?
The EEG institute who developed this program has studied thousands of individuals over the years. Through this they have discovered that it takes approximately 20 sessions to make a lasting change in the brain. After that twenty sessions, assessments are re-done to determine if sessions need to continue or if treatment is done.
If you would just like to give neurofeedback a try to see if it is right for you, we suggest a set of 8-10 sessions. For a good degree of symptom resolution, we recommend a full package of 20 sessions.
For Autistic spectrum, bipolar, severe autoimmune disorders, and other significantly difficult disorders, expect a greater number of sessions - but also expect progressive gains over the course of treatment.
What results can I expect?
We prioritize your training to meet your goals, and you can expect to meet those goals.
Most people report a feeling of regaining the vitality they had gradually lost as other things got in the way. A feeling of being more comfortable in their own skin; feeling more like themselves - alert and relaxed, alive and quiet at the same time. Many people notice significant improvement in the quality of their sleep which in itself will improve your overall quality of life.
The shifts are so organic to the brain that the way you feel and act seem perfectly natural – and it is. You will notice that you handle life stressors more effectively in that you become less emotionally reactive to life stressors and more able to rationally handle life events.
A fully balanced state is experienced as happiness, contentment, and clarity. Being in balance allows you to gain control and make choices that you weren’t able to before, as getting out of stuck habits allows you the freedom to choose your reactions rather than be over-run by them.
A fresh perspective can make all the difference.
What happens after?
When you begin your neurofeedback therapy, you and your therapist will have determined approximately how many session you need. Throughout your treatment, assessments will guide your treatment. When it is determined that your treatment is finished, you and your therapist will work together to decide if any follow up appointments are recommended. For most individuals, when you have completed treatment, you are done. Although there are always exceptions to any rule, the majority of people do not need to do anything special once they are finished with their therapy.