How it Works

    Neurofeedback is a process that encourages a learned skill based on the natural principle of repetition and practice. Whatever you are practicing becomes a learned response over time in the brain, be that practicing a good pitch in baseball, making hoops in basketball, or any other skill we acquire with practice. Practice is also how we all develop speech and thought patterns.

    Just as we learned to ride a bicycle by practice, each practice session added another piece of information to the brain so that eventually we could balance and ride freely without much thought. So the “perfect” skill of any behavior is developed slowly through repetition and practice. To simplify, when a behavior becomes automatic, we call this a “conditioned” response.

    Neurofeedback is the process we use to assist in developing the “perfect” neural pathways through computer-assisted training, the automatic conditioned response that replaces the old pattern . Then the unwanted behavior is no longer the automatic response of the brain, and the desired behavior is encouraged. Through research, we now know what brain wave patterns result in more optimal functioning and what areas of the brain are needed for different tasks.

    To participate in a neurofeedback session, a person sits in a comfortable chair, and sensors are placed on the scalp to measure the brain wave activity. The neural activity is fed back to the brain and reflected on a computer monitor. This process is exactly the same as the EKG physician uses to measure the activity of heart, or an EEG done by a neurologist.

    No electrical stimulation goes into the heart or brain using any of these tools. The difference between the EKG, the EEG, and Neurofeedback is that Neurofeedback has a specialized systematic program that encourages the continued practice of the brain to develop and maintain the “perfect neural pathway” repetitiously.

    For example, the “headache pattern” becomes the “no headache” pattern. This is when the old automatic undesirable pattern is slowly replaced by the new desired pattern. The more frequently the person practices, the more rapidly change can occur, so the adage goes “practice makes perfect”.

    Training should be no less than two times per week and four to five times per week is ideal. The good news is that, once the new patterns are over learned, the brain will continue its “perfect practice” and training can be discontinued. Keep in mind that the Italian Soccer Team that won the World Cup used neurofeedback and biofeedback to condition themselves for victory.

    Feedback occurs so quickly (at 300 milleseconds) that it is just at the edge of consciousness, so it is harder for our higher conscious thoughts to get in our way. Over time, we get out of our own way, and learn to focus on getting in “the zone” which is the “here and now” state. Change only takes place in the here and now. Behavior normalizes, unwanted behavioral patterns slip away and new behaviors become automatic. There are no known negative effects with the use of neurofeedback .