The best way to understand neurofeedback-therapy is in terms of an exercise model.
- Brain rhythms, which control the brain’s level of arousal, can be observed on an EEG.
- The brain organises its own activity through brain waves.
- By training these rhythms we exercise the brain in its fundamental role of controlling and regulating various functions.
- We assume that the brain’s ability to change or adapt to new situations secure effective cognitive and emotional functioning.
- The level of arousal of the brain indicates or orchestrates the efficiency of brain functioning.
- Should the brain be over aroused, it cannot focus, should it be under aroused, it lacks energy to function. Neurofeedback-therapy secures the stability of the brain from one to the next moment, in order to answer to demands.
The following explanation focuses on the technical aspects of neurofeedback-therapy.
- Two computers are connected to each other. With certain systems one computer is used with an external monitor.
- The therapist uses the one computer to monitor the brain activity of the person undergoing treatment.
- Brain waves that are too slow, causing under arousal and brain waves that are too fast, causing over arousal, are changed by Neurofeedback-therapy.
- The patient focuses on visual stimuli, presented on his/her monitor.
- During therapy the frequency of the patient’s beta waves is either increased or decreased depending on whether the patient is over or under aroused.
- Very high beta activity of more or less 22-36 Hz beta activity, is decreased, since those cause over arousal and is counter active to concentration.
- The slow theta and delta waves, which cause drowsiness or spaciness, are inhibited.
- In most cases the 13-15 Hz or 15-18 Hz beta range is stimulated or rewarded.
- Neurofeedback-therapy results in a healthier better regulated brain.
Since the brain has enormous capacity for change, over time, the new brain behaviour is “learnt” or conditioned. The brain learns to make adjustments and enhances a greater ability to self-management and more effective regulation of brain activity.
Effects of Training
Dr. Joel Lubar at the University of Tennessee’s studies and research on epilepsy show the effect of neurotherapy lasting 12 months or longer, post training. Clinicians report long lasting and permanent changes.
Relapses are normally due to injury, trauma or extreme stress. Some patients will never need maintenance sessions. For others, ongoing training may be appropriate, especially for degenerative conditions such as Alzheimers. Repetition of intensive training is seldom needed. Occasional “tune-up” sessions are suggested once every three to six months.