What Is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a type of psychotherapy that helps you return your brain to the way it was designed to work. It has been used successfully to help people with a wide variety of problems, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, serious behavior issues, addictions, sleep issues, epilepsy, PTSD, and brain damage from head injuries.

The "neuro" in neurofeedback refers to nerves and the nervous system because neurofeedback measures the electrical activity of the nerves in your brain. "Feedback" refers to the visual, auditory, or tactile information (in other words, feedback) that a neurofeedback system gives your brain to help it shift its brainwave patterns.

Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback applied to the brain itself. It uses the brain’s natural abilities to learn in order to help it function more efficiently. Neurofeedback is also called EEG Biofeedback, because it is based on the electrical brain activity shown by an electroencephalogram, or EEG.

A neurofeedback system measures the frequency and strength of the brain waves in different areas of the brain and then gives you simple information so that your brain can adjust its patterns. You don't even have to think about what you are doing or try to change your brain patterns. Your brain already knows how to do this.

Neurofeedback is non-invasive because it does nothing to you directly. Neurofeedback is painless and requires no surgery or medications. Doing neurofeedback therapy is very much like having an electrocardiogram (EKG) done for your heart. Small sensors with wires attached are placed on the surface of your scalp with gel. The sensors and wires pickup the very small currents in your brain. Unlike an EKG, you won't have to rip off the sensors afterward because the neurofeedback sensors are easy to remove.

For best results, neurofeedback is usually combined with talk therapy. Many people report that they feel much better after doing neurofeedback. Depending on their original issues, they report improvements including less anxiety, depression, and aggressiveness; feeling calmer and more clear-headed; getting along better with family and significant others; performing better in work, school, and sports; and sleeping better. A large advantage of neurofeedback over other kinds of treatment is that changes made as a result of neurofeedback therapy are often maintained without further treatment.

Are you wondering if neurofeedback could be helpful for you or a loved one? Please contact me. We’ll talk about what’s going on in your life and whether neurofeedback is likely to help.


2 thoughts on “What Is Neurofeedback?

  1. David Bell

    That's interesting how it works in real time with the client. With all of the expensive brain entrainment I've bought over the last year and a half, it is more about "locking in" a specific brainwave pattern or series of patterns. Which can create a disorientation or fog. But it has been studied with children with autism and adults with ADHD. What do you think about brainwave entrainment?

    1. Art Wagner

      Post author

      Audio-visual entrainment (AVE) makes sense to me, but I wish there was more research on its effectiveness. The basic entrainment phenomenon has been known for a long time and seems pretty self-evident.

      The fact that you can product fog and disorientation suggests that AVE has an effect, but this does not tell us whether it is effective for the issues we want to have an effect on. I've used AVE with an older person with mild dementia and on myself. It's hard to know whether it's effective because I didn't use any objective pre- and post-measures, but I did find it very relaxing.

      Interestingly, AVE and operant conditioning style of neurofeedback may work by means of a similar mechanism: training the brain to emit a certain frequency of brain waves.

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