What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback. It combines operant conditioning with real-time measurements of EEG activity. It teaches trainees how to better self-regulate brain functioning. Since the 1970’s, in more than 3000 treatment centers in the US, state-of-the-art, computerized EEG Neurofeedback has been an effective alternative to medications and has been used to assist with conditions such as Seizure Disorders and ADHD. Through sensors, safely placed on the surface of the head, brain wave activity can then be monitored visually and auditorally on a computer. Through these sophisticated training systems, individuals are taught, in a game like format, to effectively exercise their brain, leading to increased attention, processing, and learning. NASA scientists created the program we utilize. Psychologists working with NASA realized that this neurofeedback technology could help people who have concentration and attentional problems. This therapy is now available to treat people with ADD/ADHD.
How does Neurofeedback work?
Successful neurofeedback training is based on a simple learning theory. In order to learn or acquire a new skill, we need two simple components present: feedback and practice. The more we practice, the more natural and second nature the learning becomes. With neurofeedback, we are training the ability to sustain attention and improve processing. The more we train, the stronger and more efficient our abilities develop. Just like exercising to develop strength. Unlike weight training, in which you need to continue exercising to maintain the benefits, with neurofeedback the benefits of attention training stay with you; as you are always using attention. Electrodes are safely placed on the surface of the head, using EEG paste (which is cleaned off at the conclusion of the session.) The technology measures the patient’s attention through EEG sensors on the scalp. This information is analyzed by a specially adapted video game control unit and technological amplifier. During the session, the patient’s brain processes information to increase attention resulting from playing the video game or watching a movie. If the patient is less attentive, their brain activity will cause the speed and steering/jumping in the game to slow down or the movie to shrink and the volume to lower. This interactive process exercises areas of the brain associated with ADD or ADHD symptoms and can have a major impact on reducing the symptoms of the disorder.
What can Neurofeedback do for the subject?
You should expect to make significant progress in learning how to maintain attention, reducing hyperactivity, increasing adaptability to change, improving organizational skills, as well as many other areas symptomatic of ADD and ADHD. Studies have reported an 80 percent rate of reducing or eliminating the need for traditional medication. Our goal is to improve concentration and focus at home, work and at school.
Will medications have to be stopped if it is already being administered?
No, the training can work while the patient is on medication. Several studies have shown that about 80 percent of trainees may reduce or eliminate the need for medication. We consult with your doctor during training about reducing the medication as training progresses.
How do I know that it will work?
There are multiple, well-controlled studies showing that neurofeedback is an effective treatment for ADHD. In October 2012, the company that researches treatments for the American Academy of Pediatrics elevated neurofeedback to the highest level of evidence-based support for treating ADHD. This means that neurofeedback meets the same scientific criteria as stimulant medication for treating ADHD.
When should I expect to see results?
Understand that results vary. We typically see some improvement in calmness and focus for 30 minutes to several hours immediately after training within the first five sessions. These improvements tend to start increasing and lasting throughout the day between 10 and 20 sessions.
How will playing games or watching movies help improve focus?
Video games and regular movies are chosen, because the ability to focus on them is a useful tool druing training. They are fun for everyone, from childhood up to adult, and training participants are generally very cooperative with training. The training occurs on a neurological level that is not related to the content of the video game or movie. Just like being at the gym does not make you stronger, you have to actually do exercises to improve. Regular video games or movies without the appropriate technology will not improve attention.
Can I use my own video games or movies for in-office training?
Most Sony Playstation games (PS2 and PS3 only) or movies will work for training, but the individual video games have to be approved by the Neurofeedback Technician to ensure that they are appropriate for training. Patients are welcome to bring in approved games for the clinical training.