Neurofeedback Training: How It Works
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When parents seek help for their child struggling with attention deficit or suffering from anxiety, they are often advised to see a physician so that medications can be prescribed. They may start working with a psychologist for skill building. There are also holistic therapeutic interventions that can restore and promote the health and well-being of their children.
Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, can be used as an alternative to medications, or in combination with existing treatments to make them more effective.
Neurofeedback is an evidence-based therapeutic intervention that has been the object of studies and clinical trials since the 1960s. Biofeedback devices (which include the use of neurofeedback devices) are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and are indicated for relaxation training.
Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about neurofeedback brain training:
What is neurofeedback and what are the benefits?
It's my professional opinion that, with neurofeedback, anyone can improve their brain. Children, teenagers and adults can train, whether they are 2 or 92. With children, it is often used for ADHD, emotional and behavioral issues, learning difficulties and struggles in school. With adults, it is commonly used for anxiety, attention deficit disorder, depression, trauma, stress and sleep problems. All these issues are brain-related. With neurofeedback, your brain learns to self-regulate naturally. And when it does, I believe these issues get resolved or improve.
It's also my professional opinion that neurofeedback can also improve performance in school, business or sports. It can help give you an edge when playing your favorite instrument for instance, or speaking in front of an audience.
Robert W. Hill, Ph.D., and Dr. Eduardo Castro, M.D., are authors of a book titled "Healing Young Brains: The Neurofeedback Solution." In this book, they report that "neurofeedback is effective in the treatment of ADHD in 70 to 80 percent of individuals completing the training. Not only does the attention improve, but the associated behaviors usually resolve as well." And best of all, the results are lasting. Once the brain learns to use new pathways, it will continue to function optimally long after the initial training is completed.
What happens in a session?
First, the neurofeedback trainer will spend about 15 minutes asking questions related to symptoms, the purpose of the training, and/or any progress that may have occurred. Then a handful of tiny, lightweight sensors are placed on the patient's scalp and ears. These sensors are connected to a computerized system that measures the patient's EEG activity. While the patient is listening to relaxing music — or watching a movie if the patient is a child, the system gives the patient's brain feedback. He or she may notice very brief interruptions in the sound. These pauses are the auditory feedback that the patient's brain interprets as a signal to regulate itself. They happen at a particular time of brain activity and allow the brain to return to the present and to stability. The patient's brain naturally knows what it needs to do in order to balance its own activity and function better. The actual training lasts about 35 minutes.
Are there any side effects?
It is my professional opinion that there are no side effects with neurofeedback. It is a noninvasive and safe method in comparison to medications. It is also different from brain games like Luminosity, tutoring or therapy. Those focus on changing a person's skills, behavior or how he or she thinks. Neurofeedback is focused on changing what a patient's brain does and how it does it. There are parts of the brain that help each of us pay attention, remain calm, manage emotions and mood, or help us sleep. The brain affects the mind. With neurofeedback, a patient gets to see how training his or her brain can possibly improve its functioning and impact his or her life.
Frederique Beaufils, M.A., a neurofeedback trainer, works with children and adults in Durham and Cary. Her holistic approach to neurofeedback is informed by her practice of mindfulness meditation and yoga over 15 years. Her personal experience using neurofeedback first demonstrated to her the powerful and positive benefits of this brain training program.
These opinions belong to the blogger and do not reflect those of Carolina Parent's staff.