What is Neurofeedback?
An effective alternative for ADD/ADHD, depression/anxiety, sleep problems, migraines, asthma, improved performance and concentration.
Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback that enables individuals to balance and stabilize brain activity. Brainwave patterns are displayed on a computer screen and the trainee is able to make modifications and improvements. Nothing is done to the brain from the outside; neurofeedback unlocks the brain's own ability to self-regulate and to function efficiently. It is not a treatment in the traditional sense, but part of an emerging paradigm for wellness and personal development through increased capacity for self-regulation..
Dr. Shames has written and lectured extensively and is especially interested in the relations between healing, spirituality, politics and human evolution.
What causes brain imbalances?
Imbalances in brain functioning may be due to a variety of factors. We are all born with tendencies that may develop into imbalances. A difficult birth, head injury, emotional trauma, environmental toxins, substance abuse and poor nutrition may all lead to imbalances. Head injury is far more common than people usually think. Whiplash, for instance, often has lasting effects.
What are the symptoms of brain imbalances?
Many people experience imbalances in problems such as:
- Sleep: problems falling or staying asleep or waking up; nightmares, sleepwalking, restless leg syndrome, snoring and apnea.
- Substance use/abuse: a need for caffeine, alcohol, sugar and other substances to regulate energy and mood levels.
- Attention problems: daydreaming, poor concentration, restlessness, lethargy, spaciness, hyperactivity, impulsivity, racing or jumbled thoughts.
- Emotional instabilities: crying easily, anxiety, depression, temper tantrums, mood swings, obsessive thoughts, overly aggressive or passive.
- Physical symptoms: migraines, asthma, menopausal hot flashes, severe PMS.
- Cognitive deficits: learning disabilities; dyslexia; poor visual-spatial skills; poor memory, reading comprehension or math skills.
Does neurofeedback cure these problems?
Neurofeedback does not cure or treat disorders; it seeks to correct imbalances and instabilities that underlie many disorders. It can be thought of as exercising the brain, restoring flexibility and efficiency. This works because the brain is far more flexible and ever-changing than we knew until recently. Far from being like fixed hard wiring, it is amazingly alive, adaptable, and capable of learning. It can improve its own performance. As this happens, symptoms may diminish or disappear. Full relief from symptoms may be possible with neurofeedback alone, or may require additional treatment such as psychotherapy or medication.
How is this done?
An initial interview and evaluation provides a picture of the patterns of symptoms. In a neurofeedback session, three or four sensors are attached to the scalp using a gel. Brainwaves are picked up and sent to the computer, which produces a graphic depiction of brain activity on the screen. This is a completely painless and non-invasive procedure.
The practitioner develops a plan for modifying the brainwaves, based on information from the evaluation and on the brainwaves themselves. With the help of the graphic, the trainee gradually modifies his or her brainwaves in the desired direction, at the same time improving stability and flexibility.
How long does this take?
Sessions typically last 50 minutes and may be done up to five times a week. At first , two or more sessions a week is best. While improvement is generally experienced in the first 10 sessions, 20 sessions or more are usually needed to produce lasting results. Some problems such as sleep, may improve dramatically in 3-10 sessions.
Although success cannot be guaranteed, it is usually possible to know within the first few sessions whether neurofeedback will be likely to produce positive results. For most conditions, there are no known adverse side effects.
Who can benefit from neurofeedback?
People of all ages have benefited from neurofeedback training. The major areas of use are:
- Re-balancing brain activity often provides relief from symptoms of imbalances such as those listed above and many others.
- Peak performance training: This is a special format used for athletes, pilots and other military personnel, business executives and others who need to perform at optimal efficiency under stress. Students and performers benefit from this as well.
- Deep state, or alpha/theta training: for substance abuse, deep relaxation, contact with life's purpose, memory retrieval, transpersonal experiences.
What if I am on medication or in psychotherapy?
Neurofeedback may be used in conjunction with medication or psychotherapy. It may reduce or even eliminate the need for medication for certain disorders, but changes must be ordered by your physician. Neurofeedback is often used as an adjunct to psychotherapy.
Resources Neurofeedback articles, books, videos, websites.