How Does Neurofeedback Work?

Transcript of Neuro Nugget Video:

Neurofeedback, also called EEG biofeedback, falls under the broader umbrella of biofeedback. Biofeedback monitors and measures certain bodily processes like hand temperature, muscle tension, and heart rate, whereas neurofeedback focuses on the brain. Training sessions focus on teaching patients how their brains work and how they can actually alter their own brainwave patterns in order to achieve optimal functioning or reduce symptoms. Neurofeedback allows patients to take a role in determining the way that their brain functions, helping them to generate the proper brainwaves at the right time, which can result in the reduction of a variety of negative symptoms.

Neurofeedback works by helping patients regulate their brain activity, which is measured as brainwaves. Now, there are four primary types of brainwaves that serve different purposes in the brain. While they are all necessary for proper functioning, disruptions can occur when one brainwave becomes dominant at an inopportune time, resulting in poor cognitive functioning, stress, anxiety, and more. Here are four primary types of brainwaves and when they occur.

The first are the beta waves. Now, the beta waves are the highest and the fastest frequency waves. They occur when the brain is actively engaged in a task like taking an exam, giving a presentation, solving a homework problem, or having an interesting conversation. You’ll feel alert and ready when these waves are dominant.

Number two are the alpha waves. These are the next fastest frequency brainwaves. They are present when the brain is in a more relaxed state and can make you feel satisfied or at ease. When you’re awake and your mind is idle, your brain produces more alpha brain waves.

Third type are theta waves. Now, slower than the alpha waves, theta waves are present when we’re sleepy or daydreaming or in a deep meditative state. These waves help us get ready to shut down at the end of a long day. Still, they can also disrupt our thought patterns if they occur at the wrong time, like when you’re studying for a test or taking an online class.

Excess theta waves are frequently the cause of poor focus and attention and is often the case with individuals that have the symptoms of ADHD. The fourth are the delta waves. Now, these are the slowest frequency brainwaves and they become predominant primarily when we are in a state of deep, dreamless sleep. Brains that produce too many slow frequency waves and not enough high frequency waves or vice versa won’t function at an optimal level.

If your brain is stuck in an unhealthy functioning pattern, you may feel an overwhelming sense of fatigue or like you’re living in a fog or feel agitation or restlessness. Moreover, it may become difficult to focus on even the most trivial and mundane tasks, which can seriously reduce your quality of life. So what does neurofeedback training involve? Well, neurofeedback capitalizes on the brain’s neuroplasticity.

That is the ability to change and rewire itself. During neurofeedback training, sensors are placed on the scalp to monitor and record the patient’s brainwave activity as they watch a television program. Headphones are placed over the ears. When the brainwaves reach the desired state during the show, in other words, when it is firing within the normal range in a balanced, regulated pattern, the brain is rewarded with a brighter screen and a louder volume in the headphones.

When your brain wipes fire outside the normal range, the screen’s brightness gets darker and the volume stays normal. Your brain doesn’t like this as it craves stimulation. Over time, your brain trains itself to fire the right way over and over and over, thus creating a new neural pathway. Firing the right way becomes the new normal.

In short, neurofeedback is a natural form of operant conditioning. It is pain-free, not invasive, and no medication is involved. If brainwaves aren’t where they should be, the computer acts sort of as a coach to help you reach the optimal state. The training helps you learn to self-regulate your brain and the benefits last long after the session ends.

Gaining better control over your own brain function can be helpful in so many aspects of daily life, including at work, at school, at home, and in relationships.

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Posted on

September 30, 2023