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    Neurofeedback Therapy: What it is and How it Works

      |  Mar 15, 2023

    Brain health is a significant concern for many people, especially as they get older. Keeping your brain healthy and active is essential for living a long and healthy life. However, while there are many options available for improving physical health, the toolkit for improving brain health feels relatively bare. Setting aside the foundational behaviors such as sleep, diet and exercise, there are seemingly few desirable options to help people improve their mental state and function.

    This has led to a growing interest in neurofeedback. In this blog post, we will explore neurofeedback in depth and how it can promote improved brain performance and long-term brain health.

    Neurofeedback is a technique that uses real-time displays of brain activity to teach individuals how to regulate their own brain function. It is a type of biofeedback, which is a process of gaining greater awareness and control of physiological functions such as heart rate, breathing, and muscle tension. Biofeedback has been used for decades to treat a variety of conditions including anxiety, chronic pain, and high blood pressure. Neurofeedback takes this concept to the next level by focusing specifically on brain activity.

    To understand how neurofeedback works, it is helpful to first understand the different types of brainwaves and their associated mental states. There are five main types of brainwaves: delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma. 

    • Delta waves are the slowest and are associated with deep sleep. 

    • Theta waves are slightly faster and are associated with dreaming and creativity.

    • Alpha waves are even faster and are associated with relaxation and a calm, alert state of mind. 

    • Beta waves are even faster still and are associated with concentration and focus.

    • Gamma waves are the fastest and are associated with higher cognitive functions such as perception and memory.

    When these brainwaves are in balance, we experience optimal mental function. However, when there is an imbalance in these brainwaves, it can lead to issues with mental function and disease. For example, an imbalance in the theta-beta ratio has been associated with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Similarly, an imbalance in the alpha-beta ratio has been associated with anxiety and depression.

    This is where neurofeedback comes in. Neurofeedback works by teaching individuals to regulate their own brainwaves in real-time. Electrodes are placed on the scalp and these electrodes measure brain activity. This activity is then displayed on a computer screen in real-time. The individual is then given feedback about their brain activity in the form of visual or auditory signals. The goal is to train the individual to increase or decrease certain types of brainwaves in order to restore balance.

    There is a growing body of scientific literature supporting the use of neurofeedback for a variety of conditions. Research Clinical Trial’s suggest that 30–40 sessions of neurofeedback are as effective as methylphenidate (also known as Adderall central nervous system stimulant) in alleviating inattentive and hyperactivity symptoms and are even associated with superior post-treatment academic performance.

    Several recent studies have reported better memory performance following neurofeedback. One study found improved verbal memory after ten 30-minute sessions in which mildly cognitively impaired participants enhanced individual central-parietal upper-alpha wave activity.

    Finally, neurofeedback has also been shown to be helpful in optimizing mental performance even in healthy individuals - making it a valuable tool for executives, athletes, and anyone who desires peak mental performance. Twenty-three controlled studies have shown that neurofeedback improves executive attention, reaction time, and complex psychomotor skills, among other mental capacities.

    Neurofeedback is a promising technique for optimizing brain function. By using real-time displays of brain activity, individuals can learn to regulate their own brainwaves and restore balance. If you are interested in trying neurofeedback, you can get started by purchasing the Modern Age Neurofeedback program or booking a free consultation with our clinicians to learn more.