What is neurofeedback?
Our brain cells, neurons, communicate with one another and send signals with electrical pulses. There are about 100 billion neurons in an average human brain, so when our brains are active, they fire with a predictable frequency- waves. We can use EEG’s to measure those brains waves. Neurologists have studied patterns in those brainwaves for years and now we’re capable of correlating those brainwave patterns to different types of thought. When a brain is intently focused on completing a task, we can tell! When a brain is drifting off into a daydream, we can tell! Neurofeedback is a process that allows a trained professional and some specialized equipment to help brains work more efficiently.
How does neurofeedback work?
Neurofeedback can look a number of different ways, but the common theme involves the following. A neurofeedback provider attaches a number of EEG sensors to a participant’s scalp. The EEG sensors are there to measure electrical conductivity in the brain. This is how we learn what brains do. The provider and the participant then began a session. A session may involve playing cards, reading a book, watching a movie, playing a video game, or other casual activities. Throughout the activities, the participants brainwave patterns change, and technology is used to measure them. When brainwave patterns begin to diverge from the ideal or acceptable pattern for the activity, like too frequently lapsing into a “distracted” pattern, an auditory and visual cue is provided to encourage the participant’s brain to refocus on the activity at hand. Neurofeedback is effectively, the retraining of the brain.
Who uses neurofeedback?
There is a huge variety of people who benefit from neurofeedback. There have been a number of studies published that show positive outcomes for people with anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, and/or depression. There is a growing body of evidence to support neurofeedback’s efficacy with a broader population, but it is a young field. There is a growing cohort of professional athletes and celebrities who use neurofeedback to try to improve their professional performance. At Arete, we have several students, parents, employees, and community members who participate in neurofeedback training.