Frequently Asked Questions
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a process which enables you to alter and control your brain waves. The goal of neurofeedback is to train the brain to function more effectively. When you learn about your own brain wave characteristics, you can learn to change them. And with neurofeedback, the brain will continue to use its new capabilities even after training is completed.
What Happens During the Training Session?
Neurofeedback is a painless, non-invasive procedure. During each training session, electrodes are placed on your ear and on your scalp at two locations. The sensors are connected to electronics and computer software which detect, amplify, and record specific brain activity. The brain waves are displayed on the computer screen. The computer software processes the signal and provides the appropriate visual and audio feedback.
How does my brain do that?
Your brain and body want to be in a state of “homeostasis”, or a state of health or balance. During neurofeedback training, the brain gradually responds to the audio and visual feedback. This is how learning to produce a healthier brain wave occurs. The brain learns a new brain pattern, which is closer to what is normally observed in people without such conditions
What is the process like?
In the initial evaluation, we gather information about your symptoms, your health, and your family history. There is EEG testing which gives us a look at the electrical activity of your brain and tells us which areas of your brain could benefit from neurofeedback training. You will see the EEG of various areas of your brain on a computer screen and learn how they compare to normal brain waves. The time required for the evaluation is about 60 – 90 minutes. We will review the results with you and, if necessary, schedule training sessions.
How long is a session?
A training session itself is usually about 30 minutes. Extra time is needed to talk with you about how you are doing and discuss progress after the session. We ask you to allow 45 minutes for each session.
What do I do during the training session?
Your job is to relax. You do not use the conscious part of your brain. This process uses the part of your brain which controls all functions of the body. Your brain knows what to do and you can help most by observing and encouraging it.
How do I make the brainwaves change?
It is not possible for you to “make” change happen. The process used to correct the abnormal activity of the brain is the same which is used to heal our body. We are not surprised when the brain heals a broken bone, but we may not be used to the idea of the brain healing itself. The part of the brain which causes this to happen is not conscious but unconscious. The tool which the brain uses to become healthier is the information on the screen. This is why it is important to stay focused on this information, as well.
Are these changes permanent?
According to research over the past 40 years, changes created by neurofeedback are permanent unless the brain is further harmed by other trauma, disease, or injury. Once the brain’s normal rhythmic patterns have been restored, neurofeedback training is no longer necessary. Life changing events may retrigger symptoms, but fewer neurofeedback sessions are needed to restore brain efficiency. This is because a healthy or normal state is the most stable state for the mind and body.
How often should I come?
Most people come once or twice a week. The important factor is the number of minutes your brain is actually working on the task. If you come twice per week, you will reach your goals twice as fast as coming once a week. It is also important in some cases to allow the brain to rest between sessions. This is especially true when the brain’s voltage is low and the brain tires rapidly. Remember, this is very hard work for the brain and it may need to rest until it gets strong. As you move along in your training, you will notice more energy.
How many sessions will it take?
There is no standard answer to this. Individuals are different and learn at different rates of speed. Also, different conditions require different amounts of time to correct. Neurofeedback is a learning process and results are seen gradually over time.
When will I see some change?
Some change is usually seen within the first 10-12 sessions. However, there are individual variations. Usually, the more complex conditions require more sessions before changes are noticed.
Will my progress be consistent?
In the beginning, it is not unusual for the brain’s activity to jump around so some sessions show an improvement in the numbers and some appear to be worse. This is normal until the brain’s activity becomes more stable at which time, progress is more linear.
How are goals set?
Goals are usually set in the assessment session. Both the amplitude and the frequencies of various brain waves are measured. Some brain waves need to be higher in amplitude or frequency than others in order to produce a healthy pattern. Also, the two sides of the brain should be nearly equal. Children’s brains are busier and we expect the brain waves to be slightly higher.
Do my goals ever change?
Sometimes correcting disorder in the brain is like peeling away the layers of an onion. Once one abnormal pattern is reduced, it is possible to see another which may have been covered up by the first. In this case, your goals will be revised and we will discuss these changes with you.
Can I keep track of my progress?
You can keep track of your progress on a tally sheet which you may request. We will put your goals on this sheet and you may get your numbers after each session to see how you are progressing.
Are there any contraindications for neurofeedback?
There are no known contraindications.