What Is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback (NFB) training involves reconditioning and retraining brainwave patterns.

History and Development

In 1924, German psychiatrist Hans Berger used a ballistic galvanometer and two electrodes to make the world's first EEG recording device. He used it initially to record the brainwave data of a 17 year old boy while he was undergoing a neurosurgical operation. Berger published 14 studies on this EEG method throughout his career. She also coined the terms “alpha and beta waves” to describe two of the four types of brainwaves. This discovery paved the way for future research into neuroscience, neurosurgery, and neurofeedback.

Joe Kamiya has been called the father of Neurofeedback for his advancement of the research during the 1960s. In particular, he researched alpha waves, the type of brainwave connected to relaxation and stress relief. He showed that individuals could learn to consciously influence their brains to enter this alpha state. This was the first recorded instance of Neurofeedback being used in humans.

In 1965, Barry Sterman was researching sleep when he accidentally discovered that cats could be trained with treats to increase their sensorimotor rhythm (the EEG rhythm over the sensorimotor cortex). Years later, he was conducting research for NASA on the health effects of exposure to lunar landing fuel when he made another startling discovery. The cats that he had trained to increase their sensorimotor rhythm were less likely to experience the negative, seizure-like effects of the chemicals in the landing fuel. Later, he replicated his findings with monkeys. Then eventually, he demonstrated how humans with epilepsy could learn to reduce their seizures by using this sensorimotor rhythm training.

Neurofeedback eventually gained attention from those involved in the enlightenment movement in the 1970s. Unfortunately, this did not help Neurofeedbacks reputation among the mainstream health community. But enough researchers believed in it, knew the benefits of brain-training, and kept studying it. Their efforts, along with advancements in computer software, have made the positive treatment effects so much clearer. Now, Neurofeedback is a scientific method that is used in medical practices today.

Neurofeedback directly targets brainwaves to improve overall function. These brainwaves operate at different frequencies: some are faster and others are slower. These brainwaves are always operating in various regions of our brains and to varying degrees. We call these four brainwaves delta, theta, alpha, and beta.

Delta brainwaves are the slowest, and they occur during deep sleep

Theta brainwaves occur in the state between sleep and awake, during deep relaxation

Alpha brainwaves occur when the individual is relaxed and unfocused

Beta brainwaves are the fastest, and they occur during states of alertness and focus

With Neurofeedback we observe the brain in action, then that information is shown back to you through feedback. The brain is then rewarded for correcting its activity to appropriate patterns. This is a gradual learning process. It applies to any aspect of brain function that we can measure.

Neurofeedback is also called EEG Biofeedback, because it is based on electrical activity in the brain. Neurofeedback is biofeedback for the brain.

Neurofeedback works for all types of issues caused by dysregulation the brain. This includes anxiety, depression, ADHD/ADD, behavior disorders, sleep disorders, migraines, and emotional disturbances. It can also help with organic brain conditions such as epilepsy, and can reduce the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders.

Individuals who struggle with ADHD/ADD, head injuries, stroke, epilepsy, developmental disabilities, and often chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia tend to have excessive slow waves (usually theta and sometimes excess alpha) present. These brain issues cause problems with concentration, memory, controlling their impulses and moods, or hyperactivity.

Behavioral health disorders cripple America’s workforce as the leading cause of disability. Nearly 9 million Americans have a mental illness that greatly affects their day-to-day living, and 10.8 million full-time adult workers have an addiction. Despite this, treatment of behavioral health disorders is a low priority. Over a third of adults have a serious mental illness and 90% of adults with addictions receive no treatment. It is our goal at Alpha NeuroHealth Clinic to change how behavioral health is approached.

Usually, our lack or awareness of our brain patterns means that we cannot control them. But when your brain gets real-time feedback on it’s dysregulation, it can begin to change these patterns to a healthier, more optimized state.

And the activity your brain determines everything you feel and do. This is where Neurofeedback can help.


Video References


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