Neurofeedback

Frequently Asked Questions

Types of Brain Waves

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a brain training program that helps the brain learn to function more efficiently, or to better self-regulate. Self-regulation is the degree to which our brains are flexible or inflexible in patterns of behavior and emotional management. Sometimes these patterns are no longer helpful. When this is the case, Neurofeedback enables the brain to learn new patterns.

 

Just like going to the gym and working out for strength, endurance, and 

flexibility, Neurofeedback is like a gym for your brain. Training is done with music, video games, and movies that start, stop and fade in and out from light to dark depending on whether your brain is hitting the thresholds your clinician has set into the software. You don’t have to “try” to reach these thresholds, because while you’re paying attention to the movie, game, or video your brain is learning how to meet them on its own.

 

Training is done with the use of quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) equipment. A QEEG measures and visually displays electrical activity in the brain. QEEG allows Neurofeedback to take a closer look at the activity inside your brain and allows for change in patterns and connectivity, calming a hyperactive brain, waking up a slow or unresponsive brain, increasing efficiency, and improving communication between areas in the brain.

 

Brainwaves are electrical activity produced by neurons as they communicate with one another. Brainwave frequencies play a different role in brain function, and they are grouped from about 0 to 40 Hertz (Hz) in the following way:

 

  • (2 – 4 Hz) Delta: deep sleep, involved in ability to relax

  • (4 – 8 Hz) Theta: drowsiness, creativity, intuition, increased distractability 

  • (8 – 12 Hz) Alpha: relaxation, peace of mind and alertness

  • (12 – 30 Hz) Beta: “normal” mental activity, problem solving, decision making

  • (30 – 42 Hz) Gamma: intense focus, high information processing, high short-term memory ability

 

A QEEG also gives us information about which brain frequencies are active in your brain while doing different tasks.  Each frequency has strengths and weaknesses. Slow frequencies are associated with creativity and intuition and too much of this activity can cause attention, learning, or depression issues. Frequencies in the middle involve peak performance, mental restfulness, and physical relaxation. Too much midrange activity, and you may be unmotivated and drift through tasks. Fast frequencies are involved with word processing and complex mind skills, and when stuck in these frequencies, difficulties with obsession, compulsions, and addictive or anxious behaviors may be the result. Ideally, we shift smoothly between slow, middle, and fast frequencies, but our brains take shortcuts and develop habits where we can remain “stuck” at a certain speed. Neurofeedback helps you train your brain with new habits in order to be more flexible.

 

Another form of Neurofeedback is called HEMO-Encephalography, or HEG, which involves measuring metabolic changes in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The prefrontal cortex is in the front of the brain, right behind the forehead. This is the center for motivation, planning, and organization. HEG serves to activate the PFC, which increases blood flow and supply. This brings more of what the brain needs (oxygen and glucose) to function efficiently. HEG does not require any gel or a cap as with a QEEG. HEG is used for training only the frontal lobes. Oftentimes, HEG is used in combination with QEEG.

What will my Neurofeedback training look like?

This document will give you an idea of what to expect during training, including your Neurofeedback assessment, results review, and training program. 

How long should I

expect to do Neurofeedback?

Studies show a typical length for Neurofeedback

treatment  is between 20 to 80 sessions with most

people needing around 40-60 sessions.

Conditions Improved by Neurofeedback

How much does Neurofeedback cost?

The cost for Neurofeedback varies greatly depending upon several factors including insurance coverage, length of treatment, provider, and length of each session. Although some insurance policies cover Neurofeedback, the coverage may be limited to specific diagnoses. Our office staff will help you with this process. If you don’t have insurance or your insurance does not cover Neurofeedback, we offer out of pocket fees. The Assessment is a one-time fee ranging from $500 to $1,500. Out of pocket costs for training sessions range from $50 to $225.

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Who provides Neurofeedback training?

Counselors, family therapists, teacher, psychologists, and other trained clinicians can provide Neurofeedback training.

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Neurofeedback can help regulate difficulties associated with depression, anxiety, sleep issues, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, bipolar disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, autism, traumatic brain injuries, seizures, and migraines. Neurofeedback helps with flexibility in thinking and responding, and can also help maintain brain function in adults as they age.

 

In addition, brain training in different areas of the brain can help to increase attention, focus, learning, memory, and intuition. It can improve regulation of emotions, behaviors, and thought patterns as well as help to stabilize mood. Oftentimes patients notice that since beginning Neurofeedback, they fall asleep faster and wake up easier. Patients also comment on how they are now able to stay calm during situations that for them would normally be very stressful.  Neurofeedback can also help in processing past trauma and overcoming chronic pain. It can increase your ability to retain and remain at peak performance for greater lengths of time. Peak performance skills can be applied to mental and physical tasks such as test-taking and sports.

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What types of

conditions can

Neurofeedback

help address?

How does Neurofeedback work?

Neurofeedback is done by placing electrodes on the scalp to detect brainwave activity. Different areas of the brain are responsible for different functions. However, most of the time, several areas of the brain are working together to accomplish a task or to rest. We assess a person’s brain wave activity during different states of awareness; eyes open, eyes closed, and on task.

 

As described previously, Neurofeedback is like gym-training for your brain. When your brain receives real-time details about its activity, you can teach it to better self-regulate emotions and behaviors and function more efficiently. Electrodes placed on the scalp detect brainwave activity and send this information to the computer. Based on your individual training plan, brain training software is told what specific changes you would like to make to your brain’s frequencies. The training itself is done using music, video games, and movies that start, stop, and fade in and out depending on whether your brain is hitting the goals you and your therapist have set.

 

Instead of teaching your brain tricks and techniques, your brain teaches itself a new way of operating through the cues and feedback received by the brain training software. You brain learns as it gains feedback in real time.

How effective/successful is Neurofeedback?

Clinicians find that the outcome of Neurofeedback training is typically greater than what patients were expecting.

 

Please check out this compiled list of research for more details on positive outcomes for individuals treated with Neurofeedback for various conditions such as anxiety, depression, sleep issues, ADHD, and PTSD. 

Are there negative side effects?

Like any form of exercise, there are some side effects that have been reported with Neurofeedback. Fatigue or tiredness after a session are the most common symptoms reported. This fatigue will feel a bit like your brain has learned a new mental skill. As your brain adjusts to new neural pathways, you may also experience vivid dreams.

 

Those with previous brain injuries or head trauma are the most likely to experience physical symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, and some light sensitivity.

What about medication?

As your brain becomes more able to self-regulate, the need for medication will likely be reduced as the need for outside help decreases. However, it is important to never stop taking or reduce your medication without speaking with your doctor first. This would require a step down process in medication reduction.

Does Neurofeedback training last?

Studies have shown improvements to brainwave function and brain regulation are kept overtime. The brain continues to use these new, more efficient brainwave patterns in everyday life, reinforcing and strengthening them.