Neurofeedback

The human brain is the most resilient and adaptable structure in nature, the source of all of our emotions, perceptions, thoughts, and behaviors. It is made up of hundreds of billions of microscopic elements called neurons which use chemical messages to regulate electrical activity throughout the brain. The brain communicates by means of these electrical changes and our emotions, perceptions, thoughts, and behaviors are the result of the totality of these electrical and chemical changes. The following is a short description of how the brain’s electrical activity can be measured to identify maladaptive brain activity patterns – that is, bad brain habits, and how we use Neurofeedback to regulate the brain and help it return to peak performance.
 
What is Neurofeedback?
NeurofeedbackNeurofeedback, or Neurotherapy, is a powerful intervention which helps a person learn how to modify his or her brainwave activity to improve attention, reduce impulsivity, and to control hyperactive behaviors. It is a painless, non-invasive treatment approach that allows the individual to produce positive changes in brainwave activity. Neurofeedback is successful used with ADHD, anxiety disorders, sleep problems and learning disabilities. Neurofeedback can also help some autistic-spectrum clients. In many cases, Neurofeedback reduces the need for medication.
 
How is Neurofeedback Performed?
Brainwave activity is measured with an electroencephalograph (EEG). The Neurofeedback equipment is connected to the individual with sensors that are placed on the scalp and ears. The sensors are safe and painless. After adequate connection to the scalp and ears are made, the individual's brainwave activity can be observed on a computer monitor. During a typical session, the client sits in a comfortable chair in a quiet room. He or she will have 2, 3 or 4 electrodes placed on the part of the scalp from where the electrical information will be received. The computer screen and audio speakers will allow the client to see and hear what is happening in their bioelectrical system.NeurofeedbackNeurofeedback

NeurofeedbackWhen the brain's electrical system is performing optimally, the computer will feed sound and visual approval. When it is not, the computer will reflect that as well. The brain responds to the positive and negative feedback on a very basic level. It chooses to be rewarded and does its best to "please the computer." After a number of sessions, the changes will be permanent. Once the optimized profile is established, the client may see subtle to dramatic behavioral changes. There are different forms of feedback. In the picture above, the boy is rewarded when his brain waves reflect a learning state by filling in all of the dots in the road through the 'town game'.
 
How long does Neurofeedback Treatment take?
The length of treatment varies greatly from individual to individual. Clients with less severe disorders may notice changes in as little as 15 sessions, but 30 to 40 sessions are more usual. Clients with Autistic Spectrum Disorders may need over 100 sessions.
 
How much does Neurofeedback cost?
Individual 1-hour sessions at the Assisted Learning Center cost €80 to €90 depending on the equipment used for treatment. It is highly recommended that all clients receive a full Quantitative EEG prior to treatment; the cost of a QEEG is €500 to €650. An alternative option is a Neurofeedback Home Training Program, where clients can work at home, under supervision, after an initial assessment phase. Special arrangements are possible for clients living at a distance.
Below are some of the conditions which are typically treated with Neurofeedback. At the Assisted Learning Center, we have many years of experience in successfully treating children and adults suffering from ADD/ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Anxiety and Depression, Addictions/Substance Abuse, and Sleep Disorders.
 
What is Happening in the Brain of a Person with ADHD?
NeurofeedbackThe most recent models describing what is happening neurologically in the brains of people with Attention Deficit Disorder suggest that several areas of the brain may be affected by the disorder. At left is a sample QEEG of two ADD children compared to two non-ADD children.

The Attention Deficit Disorder children show excessive slow brainwave activity (theta and alpha ranges) compared to non-ADD activity. The slow brainwave activity indicates a lack of control in the cortex of the brain.

"Lack of control" is highly descriptive of Attention Deficit Disorder kids
 
ADD/ADHD: Symptoms and Self Screening
ADD/ADHD: Symptoms and Self ScreeninSeveral studies indicate that ADD/ADHD affect anywhere from three to eight percent of school age children. ADD/ADHD can have serious negative effects on a child's learning, relationships and emotional development.

Research suggests that the symptoms of ADHD usually persist into adulthood, having a significant impact on the relationships, careers, and even the personal safety of those affected by it. Because this disorder is often misunderstood, many people who have it do not receive appropriate treatment and, as a result, may never reach their full potential.

ADD /ADHD Self Assessment (Based on the Standard Diagnostic Criteria for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adults)

IMPORTANT: This is not a tool for self-diagnosis. Its purpose is simply to help you determine whether ADD/ADHD may be a factor in the behavior of the person (adult or child) you are assessing using this checklist. Only an experienced professional can make a valid diagnosis.

A. Inattention (short attention span or distractibility)

The following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least six months to a degree that causes difficulties in relationships, school, work, or family life. The behaviors are not appropriate for the person's age.

A score of six or more for children and four or more for adults may indicate ADD/ADHD.

  1. Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities.
  2. Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
  3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  4. Often does not follow through on instruction and fails to finish schoolwork, chores or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
  5. Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
  6. Often avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework).
  7. Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
  8. Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
  9. Is often forgetful in daily activities.


B. Hyperactivity-Impulsiveness
The following symptoms of -Impulsiveness have persisted for at least six months to a degree that causes difficulties in relationships, school, work or family life. The behaviors are not appropriate for the person's age.


A score of six or more for children and four or more for adults may indicate ADD/ADHD.
  1. Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  2. Often leaves seat in classroom or in other situation in which remaining seated is expected.
  3. Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness).
  4. Often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
  5. Is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor."
  6. Often talks excessively.
  7. Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
  8. Often has difficulty waiting turn.
  9. Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., at school or work and at home).


C. Additional Considerations

  1. Some hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive symptoms that caused impairment were present before age seven years.
  2. Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g., in relationships, at school, at work, or at home).
  3. There must be clear evidence of serious difficulties in social, academic or occupational functioning.
  4. The symptoms are not accounted for by diagnosed problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, etc.)


If you or the person you are concerned about scored the indicated number of positive answers in either category ADD/ADHD may be a factor in the difficulties this person is experiencing. Contact the Assisted Learning Center for a Neurofeedback consultation. Neurofeedback is a powerful intervention for Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
 
Neuofeedback for Athletes and Professional SportsNeuofeedback for Athletes and Professional Sports

Neurofeedback holds high potential for retraining brainwave activity to enhance optimal performance of athletes in various sports. Neurotherapy quiets the mind to improve performance in sports requiring high concentration and focus, such as archery and golf, for example. Neurotherapy also improves cognitive function and emotional control following concussions and mild head injuries, and it has untapped potential to increase physical balance in gymnastics, ice skating, skiing, and other areas of performance.

As a result, Neurofeedback training is being widely adopted by many of the most elite athletes across the globe who are striving to find ways to give themselves an edge over their competition.





A major sports magazine recently reported that the Italian football team implemented neurofeedback therapy prior to and during the FIFA World Cup competition in GermanyA major sports magazine recently reported that the Italian football team implemented neurofeedback therapy prior to and during the FIFA World Cup competition in Germany, to help them stay sharp and focused during high-pressure situations. Italy ultimately won the world cup!









Athletes like to use neurofeedback training One of the most compelling reasons why athletes and other people like to use neurofeedback training is because it is virtually the opposite of therapies or treatments that rely on the use of medication, either by prescription or those available over-the-counter. This goes hand-in-hand with the recent surge in interest that is being seen in the area of learning about alternative therapies to improve health, athletic performance, and overcome illnesses without drugs and without surgery.

In addition to enhancing athletic performance, neurofeedback allows a person to exert positive control over the subtle functions of their body, and helps the body to achieve an optimal state of focus, concentration and health.

 
Neurofeedback for Depression
Compelling research evidence exists that there is often a neurophysiological basis for depression, particularly in people with a family history of depression. Neuroscientists have discovered a particular brainwave pattern that allows us to identify individuals with a biological predisposition for developing depression. The left frontal area of the brain is associated with positive emotions and approach motivation, which is a desire to be involved with other people. The right frontal area of the brain is more associated with depression and fear, accompanied by motivation to withdraw from and avoid other people. When there is more slow brainwave activity in the left frontal area, this part of the brain is more inactive and the right frontal area is more dominant. Such a person is predisposed to become depressed more easily, to withdraw from other people, and to be anxious. This may occur because of heredity (family history) or because someone has had a concussion or mild head injury in the left frontal area which produced the slowing.

Part of a brain map from two different people is reproduced below. The map on the left is from a person with a long history of depression. The left frontal area (which is colored orange and yellow) shows an excess of slow, alpha brainwave activity. This is the pattern that has been classically associated with a vulnerability to depression. In contrast, the brain map on the right displays how a relatively normal map would look, without any excess or serious deficit.

NeurofeedbackNeurofeedback


Research has found that antidepressants do not correct the type of brainwave pattern displayed above on the left. Thus, medication treatment for depression appears to still leave intact the biological predisposition for becoming more easily depressed when unpleasant life circumstances come along.

Neurofeedback treatments for depression not only bring relief from depression, but modify the underlying biological predisposition for becoming depressed. Neurofeedback focuses on retraining the brain, for example, reversing the frontal brainwave asymmetry, with the goal of producing an enduring change that does not require people to remain on medication indefinitely.
 
Neurofeedback for Addictions
Alcohol and drugs are psychoactive substances. They act in the brain, and their effects represent changes in neurological functioning. It is possible to learn to control one's brain states from within, without drugs and alcohol. In this way, addictions can sometimes be overcome without a lifetime of struggle and craving. Neurofeedback trains the brain to modulate its level of activity, to become more or less activated according to the needs of the individual. Some addictions, such as alcoholism, often involve brain over-activation. In these cases it can be helpful to teach the brain to quiet down, become less activated. In other cases, for example in people with ADHD who abuse amphetamines, the brain is under-activated and needs to learn to speed up.

Neurofeedback can improve addictions treatment outcomes and lead to better results than the best mainstream approaches now available. Treatment often begins with a quantitative EEG and is individualized.
 
Neurofeedback for Sleep Disorders

A large portion of the population each year suffers from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, or occasional sleep problems. Neurofeedback is a powerful tool for regulating sleep. Health professionals around the world report significant improvement in a large percentage of their clients using Neurofeedback to treat chronic, long term sleep problems.

What are the most commonly reported sleep issues that improve with Neurofeedback training?


  • Insomnia - Difficulty falling asleep; difficulty maintaining sleep during the night
  • Difficulty waking from sleep
  • Difficulty getting to bed
  • Not feeling rested after sleep
  • Sleeping too long (over 10 hours)
  • Physically restless sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Bedwetting (Nocturnal enuresis)
  • Sleepwalking
  • Restless leg syndrome - Leg discomfort or sleep causing movement & arousal
  • Bruxism - teeth grinding during sleep
  • Sleep terrors - Abrupt arousal with intense fear, difficult to awaken, no dream recall or memory of event
  • Narcolepsy
  • Dysregulated sleep patterns/cycles (circadian rhythms)


Neurofeedback training often helps these problems as it improves brain regulation. The following are common reports:


  • A 75 year-old reported recently that she "slept like a baby for the first time in 25 years" after Neurofeedback training.
  • Parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often say it's easier to get their kids to sleep.
  • Depressed clients remark they have a much easier time getting going in the morning.


As with any program, a complete sleep assessment is helpful. Sleep hygiene issues (including caffeine, alcohol and other behavioral factors) and other potential contributory factors such as possible sleep apnea also need to be carefully reviewed and corrected in combination with Neurofeedback training.
 
Contact Us for additional information, and to help you to get started with an appropriate Neurofeedback solution.