A Beginner’s Guide

Curious about neurofeedback? This guide breaks down the basics in simple terms.

Young Woman Doing QEEG

What is neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback therapy that involves monitoring and regulating brain activity to improve cognitive function, emotional regulation, and overall well-being.

It is a non-invasive therapy that helps individuals train their brain to function more efficiently. It’s based on the principle that our brains can adapt and change, a concept known as neuroplasticity.

By using technology that provides real-time visual and auditory feedback, individuals can learn to regulate their brain activity. In simpler terms, it’s like a “workout” for your brain, where you train your brain to function more efficiently.

How does neurofeedback work?

During a neurofeedback session, sensors are placed on the scalp to measure brainwave activity. This information is then relayed to a computer, which processes the data and provides feedback to the individual in the form of visual or auditory cues.
For example, if someone is working on reducing stress, they might receive positive feedback, such as a calming image or sound, when their brainwaves indicate a relaxed state. The goal is to teach the brain to produce more of the desired brain waves and less of the undesired ones.

Over time, with repeated sessions, the brain learns to associate these feedback signals with the desired state, making it easier to achieve and maintain.

pIR-HEG Neurofeedback client at Sadar Psychology and Sports Center

Why might someone try neurofeedback?

Here’s why someone might want to try neurofeedback:

Improved Mental Performance

Athletes, musicians, and professionals seeking to enhance their performance may use neurofeedback to optimize brain function. Neurofeedback can enhance cognitive abilities such as focus, attention, memory, and problem-solving skills. By training specific brainwave patterns, individuals may experience heightened mental clarity and sharper cognitive function.

Peak Performance in Sports in Philadelphia
Why neurofeedback for trauma?

Emotional Regulation

For those struggling with mood disorders like anxiety or depression, neurofeedback can help regulate emotional responses by teaching the brain to produce more balanced patterns of activity. This can lead to greater emotional resilience and stability over time.

Stress Reduction

Neurofeedback sessions can induce a state of deep relaxation, similar to meditation or mindfulness practices. By training the brain to enter a more relaxed state or to avoid over-responsiveness, neurofeedback can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.

Woman with migraine pain
Peak Performance in Sports in Philadelphia

Enhanced Sleep Quality

Many people experience improvements in sleep patterns after undergoing neurofeedback training. By targeting brainwave patterns associated with sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or restless sleep, individuals may achieve more restful and rejuvenating sleep.

Treatment for Various Conditions

Neurofeedback has been used as a complementary therapy for a wide range of conditions. While it’s not a standalone treatment for these conditions, it can complement traditional therapies and improve overall outcomes. For example:

  • ADHD: Neurofeedback may improve attention and concentration in individuals with ADHD by helping them regulate their brain activity.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Neurofeedback is sometimes used as part of rehabilitation for individuals recovering from TBI to promote brain healing and cognitive function.
  • PTSD: In the context of treating PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), neurofeedback is utilized to help individuals manage symptoms such as hyperarousal, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and emotional dysregulation.
Peak Performance in Sports in Philadelphia

What happens during a neurofeedback session?

A typical neurofeedback session lasts about 30-60 minutes. During the session, the individual sits comfortably in a chair while sensors are placed on their scalp. They then engage in a specific task, such as watching a video or playing a game, while the computer monitors their brain activity. When the desired brain waves are produced, the individual is rewarded with positive feedback, such as the video playing or the game progressing.

Is neurofeedback safe?

Neurofeedback is considered safe when conducted by trained professionals. It’s non-invasive and does not involve the use of medication. However, it’s essential to consult with a qualified practitioner to ensure the approach is appropriate for your individual needs and circumstances.

Neurofeedback offers a promising avenue for improving mental health and cognitive function by harnessing the brain’s ability to adapt and change. While it may not be a cure-all, many individuals have found it to be a valuable complement to other therapies or interventions.

A happy family on the side of a lake near Sadar Psychological and Sports Center

If you’re a patient who is curious about neurofeedback, we recommend you begin with a functional EEG evaluation to guide your training.

Call us today to book your appointment.

How can neurofeedback be integrated into an existing practice?

Integrating neurofeedback into healthcare practices offers healthcare professionals a versatile and evidence-based approach to addressing a wide range of neurological and mental health concerns. By leveraging the principles of neuroplasticity and personalized medicine, healthcare professionals can provide patients with innovative and tailored interventions that promote healing, rehabilitation, and optimal brain function.

  1. Holistic Approach to Mental Health: Incorporating neurofeedback into mental health practices offers a holistic approach to treatment by addressing underlying brain dysregulation patterns associated with conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Healthcare professionals can use neurofeedback as an adjunctive therapy alongside traditional treatments like medication and psychotherapy, providing patients with a comprehensive approach to managing their mental health.
  2. Personalized Treatment Plans: By utilizing neurofeedback assessments, healthcare professionals can develop personalized treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique brain activity patterns. This individualized approach allows for targeted interventions that address specific symptoms and underlying neurological imbalances, leading to more effective outcomes and reduced reliance on one-size-fits-all treatments.
  3. Neurological Rehabilitation: Neurofeedback can play a crucial role in neurological rehabilitation for conditions such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Healthcare professionals can integrate neurofeedback into rehabilitation programs to promote neuroplasticity, facilitate neural rewiring, and improve cognitive function and motor skills in patients undergoing recovery.
  4. Chronic Pain Management: Chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and migraines, often have underlying neurological components that contribute to pain perception and processing. Healthcare professionals can use neurofeedback to modulate brain activity associated with pain perception, offering patients an alternative or complementary approach to pain management alongside conventional therapies.
  5. Peak Performance Enhancement: Beyond clinical applications, healthcare professionals can integrate neurofeedback into practices focused on optimizing human performance. Athletes, musicians, executives, and other high-performing individuals can benefit from neurofeedback training to enhance focus, concentration, and cognitive function, thereby improving performance outcomes in their respective fields.
  6. Research and Advancements: Healthcare professionals involved in research can leverage neurofeedback as a tool for studying brain functioning, neuroplasticity, and the efficacy of neurofeedback interventions across various populations and conditions. By contributing to the growing body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of neurofeedback, researchers can drive advancements in neuroscience and clinical practice.

How can we help you?

If you are an individual healthcare provider interested in making neurofeedback a part of your practice, we recommend you begin with our BCIA approved introduction to neurofeedback didactic course.

If your organization is interested in a customized program to learn neurofeedback, we’d love to collaborate with you!