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What Is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a form of brain wave training that allows a person to monitor and manipulate their own brainwaves in order to improve mental health. It’s been shown to improve focus, concentration and emotional control — helping people with conditions like ADD/ADHD, concussions, migraines, insomnia, anxiety, epilepsy, memory loss with age, and even boost athletic performance.

The basic process of Neurofeedback is simple: a qualified clinician attaches small sensors to the surface of the scalp (like in this picture). Sensor signals are sent through an amplifier and into a computer which then displays information about your brain activity on a screen. This information includes the speed of your brain waves, their frequency and their rhythm. Patients are able to see this feedback in the form of animations displayed on the screen, and can learn to change these brain wave frequencies.

Neurofeedback has been around for over fifty years, launching after researchers discovered that seizure-prone cats in a lab could be trained to change their EEGs and inhibit seizures. Since then, advances in brain science have made this type of treatment more precise and targeted. Using information obtained from MRI’s, PET scans and other brain imaging techniques, we can now target specific areas of the brain that are responsible for the disorder or symptoms you’re experiencing.

For example, children with ADHD have a tendency to exhibit more low frequency theta waves and less high frequency beta waves in certain regions of the brain, as detected by an EEG. Through a process of operant conditioning, we can teach children to promote the occurrence of beta waves during neurofeedback sessions and thus help reduce their ADHD symptoms.

As the popularity of neurofeedback increases, more centers are beginning to offer this type of treatment. But it’s important to find a licensed, experienced professional — as the quality of training and the level of expertise can vary significantly.

At True Life Center, our highly trained specialists know how to keep the session comfortable and safe. We begin with a qEEG to identify the areas of your brain that require attention and work. Once we have a clear understanding of the abnormal brain function responsible for your symptoms, Dr. Fotuhi will then recommend a specific protocol that will move your brain waves toward a healthy functioning pattern.

Neurofeedback sessions are relaxing, non-invasive and do not involve any sedation or medication. They are held in a private office setting, and your brain is essentially being “taught” to change behavior.

Once the initial sessions are complete, the results can last for long periods of time if the patient continues to practice these changes. This is a result of the neuroplasticity of the brain and can often be seen in individuals with chronic migraines or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Despite being a non-invasive and drug-free procedure, there are some concerns about the evidence supporting this type of therapy. Many studies testing its effectiveness do not randomly assign participants to different groups at the outset, which can skew the results. Additionally, this type of therapy is not covered by most insurance plans and is relatively expensive.