NEurofeedback

Overview

Neurofeedback (also known as EEG Biofeedback or Neurotherapy) is brain exercise (training) for better overall brain functioning. With EEG monitoring, we observe your brain in action from moment to moment by monitoring your brainwaves. We show you your brain activity and we help you change it by rewarding shifts toward a more functional and stable brain state. It is a gradual learning process.

Neurofeedback is also referred to as EEG Biofeedback or Neurotherapy. The electroencephalogram (EEG) is another name for the brain wave recordings and, in this context, biofeedback refers to the process by which you learn to change your brainwaves and hence change your control of brain states.

Neurofeedback is not electricity to the brain. Much like a stethoscope allows the user to hear the heart beating and measure the heart rate, the sensors allow the software to measure the brain activity and convert these brainwave patterns onto a computer monitor.

Sensors are attached to the scalp with EEG paste to record your brainwaves. It is painless and does not involve the application of any voltage or current to your brain, so it is entirely non-invasive.

A computer processes the brain waves and extracts certain information from them. The ebb and flow of your brain waves and the specific information obtained from them are shown back to you in the form of a video game. You are instructed how to play the video game using only your brainwaves. (Everyone can do it.) The specific brain wave frequencies we reinforce and the sensor locations on the scalp are unique to each individual as they are set up to target the concerns you identify in our initial consult.

Neurofeedback enhances attention, focus, concentration, memory & benefits hyperactivity issues, relaxation as well as performance. By monitoring your brain waves via EEG technology, immediate feedback is provided to your brain through visual stimulation. When observing your brain wave activity, in real time on advanced computerized equipment, you can see what’s happening to your brain as your state & awareness changes. Gains in treatment can be applied to school, work, artistic pursuits & competitive athletic performance. It is a safe, non-invasive, drug free intervention with beneficial long term effects.

Individuals of any age can benefit from EEG training. Neurofeedback can help a variety of childhood problems including:

  • Bedwetting
  • Nightmares
  • Attention deficits and other forms of disrupting and disturbing behaviors

Neurofeedback can assist adolescents who might struggle with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Neurofeedback can help maintain good brain function as we age (brain brightening)

Neurofeedback training improves:

  • Attention
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Emotional regulation
  • Peak performers use EEG training to enhance their abilities in sports, business and the arts

Neurofeedback can help to reduce or eliminate a number of common symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress reactions
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Emotional distress

Neurofeedback can also help relieve a variety of conditions such as:

  • Mood swings
  • PMS
  • Organic brain disorders including: seizures, stroke, and traumatic brain injury

(This is not an exhaustive list)

With successful neurofeedback training, medications targeting brain function may no longer be needed, or they may be needed at lower dosages, as the brain takes over the role of regulating itself. This is our goal with neurofeedback training, in our holistic approach. It is important for clients to communicate with their prescribing physician regarding neurofeedback and medications.

Ideally, appointments are scheduled one to three times per week for maximum benefit. Change can be experienced in as few as one to five sessions, but for the change to be long lasting, more treatments are usually necessary. To acquire the basic skills of self-regulation and allow for meaningful change the average number of sessions is close to 20. As each session progresses, self – evaluation with you, the client, is utilized to re-evaluate the treatment plan.

Sessions run in length from 40 to 50 minutes (clinical hour). Services at Brain In Balance are paid on a fee for service model

AD(H)D

ADHD is characterized by behaviours such as inattention, distractibility and impulsivity. In terms of brain wave activity, children who have ADHD appear to be less able to produce Beta brainwave activity and experience slower wave activity, especially in Theta brainwave. In order to learn and concentrate, the brain needs to emit high levels of Beta brainwaves and low levels of Theta brainwaves, as an imbalance is believed to be associated with poor concentration. Neurofeedback training aims at increasing Beta waves and decreasing Theta waves. In the process of the training the child is rewarded, via a computer game, to make voluntary brainwave activity changes. Using computerized graphic displays and auditory signals that encourage a change in mental state, the brain is challenged to function more effectively and thus teaches the child’s brain to improve skills of managing attention, arousal and to have better control over his or her own emotional state and behaviour.

Children with AD(H)D may gain these benefits:

  • heightened focus and attention
  • reduced anxiety
  • improved skills acquisition and retention
  • increased analytical and creative thinking skills
  • strengthened communication skills
  • improved Memory
Autism

Neurofeedback training has been shown to assist children with autism verbally, physically and in social communication. Improved speech, responsiveness, balance, and understanding facial expressions, have been observed. Neurofeedback training has also shown to assist in decreasing sensory sensitivities and to allow individuals to respond better to changes in the environment.

Individuals with autism may experience these gains:

  • improvement in self expression
  • improved speech
  • improved responsiveness to external stimuli
  • improved spatial/body awareness leading to better balance
  • improved understanding of facial expressions of others
  • decreased sensory sensitivities
Learning Difficulties

Learning problems can occur in the auditory, memory or processing functions and cause problems in the understanding or remembering of words, in expressing or receiving oral or written language, in forming letters or in grasping mathematical concepts. It has been found that children with learning difficulties show elevated levels of Alpha and Theta brainwaves and this could be disruptive to ongoing mental activities. Neurofeedback is aimed at lowering Alpha and Theta brainwaves and has shown to improve reading, writing, mathematics and drawing abilities, as well as increasing IQ scores.

People with learning disabilities may gain:

  • increased memory
  • improving concentration
  • increased ability to divide attention
  • improvement in visual-auditory processing
  • increased ability to perform multitasks
  • increased speed of processing
Sleeping Problems

Sleeping problems involve difficulties related to sleep and can include bedwetting, sleep walking, sleep talking, waking often, night terrors and difficulty falling asleep. Neurofeedback training has been used successfully to assist these disorders. The first reported signs of change upon initiating EEG training, is improvement in the quality of sleep.

Individuals with problems sleeping may experience:

  • elimination of mental chatter in your brain
  • decreased levels of anxiety
  • ease in falling asleep;
  • ability to maintaining sleep during the night
  • ease in waking from sleep
  • feeling rested after sleep
  • physically rested sleep
  • elimination of nightmares
  • elimination of bedwetting (Nocturnal enuresis)
  • elimination of sleepwalking
  • Bruxism – teeth grinding during sleep
  • elimination of sleep terrors – Abrupt arousal with intense fear, difficult to awaken, no dream recall or memory of event
  • regulated sleep patterns/cycles (circadian rhythms)
Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety as a disorder can be described by extreme reactions such as phobias and panic attacks or as severe tension, stage fright or performance anxiety. Anxiety is a sign of difficulties with self-regulation by the brain. Neurofeedback training gives you specific information from your EEG, and nudges your brain into bringing aspects of it under control; training the brain to regulate itself better. This learned skill is subsequently unconsciously employed to aid in shifting to a more relaxed and appropriate high-performance state, assisting to overcome anxiety and panic attacks.

Those who experience anxiety & panic attacks may experience:

  • regain mental alertness and clarity in thinking
  • ability to regain management of work and personal responsibilities
  • increase in self confidence
  • increased feeling of relaxation
  • foster feeling of being grounded and centered
  • renewed ability to set goals & manage tasks
Auto-Immune Dysfunction

There is substantial empirical evidence that Neurofeedback training can assist the symptoms of auto-immune diseases, in which the immune system is at war with the normal functioning body. Diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus have been observed to improve in that benefits are shown in terms of higher energy levels, better sleep, focused attention, reduced mood volatility, normalization of pain thresholds and improved overall well-being. There is no suggestion that the neurofeedback training reverses the course of the disease process. However, it is quite generally observed that persons afflicted with these conditions may be relieved of much of their pain; they may be more robust and energetic with the training; and they may not be as heavily impacted by flare-ups of the condition. (EEG Spectrum)

If the training is going to be helpful, this will usually be noticed by the individual during the first six to ten sessions, and the judgment can then be made as to whether it is worthwhile to continue the training.

People with auto – immune dysfunction may benefit from:

  • In the case of Type I diabetes neurofeedback training can provide a greater tolerance to variations in glucose level.
  • more energetic and robust.
  • reduced pain associated with peripheral neuropathy
  • In the case of Type II diabetes supplemental insulin may be entirely avoided
  • Insulin requirements may significantly reduce
  • may feel the benefit of higher energy level,
  • better sleep,
  • focused attention,
  • reduced mood volatility.
  • In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, persons undergoing the training may have pain relieved sufficiently that they no longer require pain medication.
  • Restoration of a normal pain threshold and disrupt the chronic pain mechanism.
  • In the case of lupus, individuals may benefit of the training in terms of the severity of flare-ups of the condition. (The training appears to confer a prophylactic benefit, and is therefore conducted irrespective of whether the patient is symptomatic. Additionally, however, the training can confer benefits during the acute episodes as well)’
Chronic Pain (some types of)

Neurofeedback has been successfully used with chronic pain sufferers. In chronic pain we assume that the injury, which originally gave rise to the pain, has healed, yet the pain survives and may have worsened over time. Constant endurance of chronic pain can lower the brain’s threshold to pain, increasing the perception of pain experienced. Neurofeedback training can succeed in raising the threshold to pain and may even restore it to a normal level, thus lowering the perception of pain experienced. If there is continuing injury, the pain threshold can at least be returned toward normal values and pain reduced.

People who have chronic pain may experience:

  • a decrease or in, some cases, total elimination of chronic pain
  • mood improvements
  • a sense of feeling more detached from issues
  • being energized and feeling motivated
  • improved over-all quality of life
Depression

Major Depression is a mood disorder that results in feelings of sadness or irritability and is associated with a general loss of interest or pleasure in most activities. It frequently affects eating and sleeping patterns, self-esteem, and one’s outlook on life. A depressive disorder goes beyond short periods of sadness or feeling “blue”. Major depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms (see symptom list) that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities.

Neurofeedback training addresses the basic mechanism by which the brain controls physiological arousal, in that it normalizes the arousal mechanism. The training is effective regardless of the cause by which the person has become depressed, whether from a genetic pre-disposition, physical or emotional trauma, or from a physiological change of unknown origin. As training proceeds the client may find that anti-depressant or stimulant medication may need to be lowered and hence the person should remain under medical care for his or her condition, so that the medication dose may be monitored.

People who experience depression may benefit from:

  • mood improvements
  • sense of feeling more detached from issues
  • energized and feeling motivated
  • improved over-all quality of life
Epilepsy

Neurofeedback training was first used therapeutically for epilepsy and clinical research is most extensive in this area. It has been shown to assist in the treatment of the various types of epilepsy, including petit mal, grand mal and complex partial seizures. Neurofeedback training can be considered as another element in the management program as it has been shown to assist in the reduction of the medication dose required to achieve seizure control. Sterman (2000) found that 82% of 174 participating patients who were otherwise not controlled had shown significantly improved seizure control (defined as a minimum of 50% reduction in seizure incidence), with around 5% of these cases reporting a complete lack of seizures for up to 1 year subsequent to training cessation.

People who experience epileptic seizures may experience:

  • a significant decrease in seizures
Stroke/Minor Traumatic Brain Injury (Concussion)

Stroke may have consequences for a variety of brain functions. Neurofeedback training can assist with the recovery due to specific loss which the person has suffered, and can also be effective with the secondary symptoms such as malaise, poor sleep, irritability, depression, anxiety and so on. Neurofeedback is helpful in the long-term recovery of function.

Neurofeedback in the treatment of minor traumatic brain injury has also shown that the training assists in reducing symptoms associated with this condition such as: loss of energy, headaches and chronic pain, dizziness, memory impairment; difficulty concentrating, anxiety, depression and mood swings, sleep disturbances and visual perceptual problems. Clinical experience has shown that significant further recovery can be elicited with Neurofeedback training even after other therapies have reach a plateau.

People who have experienced a mild stroke or minor brain injury may experience:

  • heighten focus and attention
  • reduced anxiety
  • improved skills acquisition and retention
  • strengthened communication skills
  • improved Memory
  • increase cause and effect thinking
  • increase ability to learn emotionally
  • increase ability to generalize
  • increase “brain brightening”
  • decrease anger as a coping skill & increase ability to calm self
Tension Headaches & Migraines

Neurofeedback training has been found to be very successful in reducing, and often eliminating, tension headaches and migraines. The training aims at improving brain self-regulation and can induce a change in the physiological state, training the brain to have a higher threshold for headache onset. More than 80% of people who complete the training regime report a remediation of headache syndromes.

Individuals with tension headaches and migraines problems should experience:

  • sleep more deeply
  • rising and starting the day more easily
  • less frequency of headaches
  • peaceful and contented feelings generally
  • fewer and less intense headaches
  • increased control of blood flow
  • decreased muscular tension
Post Traumatic Stress

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers. People with PTSD may startle easily, become emotionally numb (especially in relation to people with whom they used to be close), lose interest in things they used to enjoy, have trouble feeling affectionate, be irritable, become more aggressive, or even become violent. They avoid situations that remind them of the original incident, and anniversaries of the incident are often very difficult.

People who experience post traumatic stress may benefit by:

  • feeling dramatically less anxious
  • having an increased sense of well-being
  • feeling more comfortable and relaxed
  • having the ability to put memories aside as sad, but no longer terrifying or threatening
  • being able to normalize your social and individual life and go about the business of living without the fear, anxiety and depression which may have previously been a constant companion
OCD

Neurofeedback works to alter neurochemical and neuroelectrical systems thus improving arousal and balance of the nervous system. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have persistent, upsetting thoughts (obsessions) and use rituals (compulsions) to control the anxiety these thoughts produce. Frequently, the rituals end up controlling them.

Individuals who use neurofeedback for OCD may experience an increase in:

  • feeling dramatically less anxious
  • having a renewed sense of well-being
  • feeling more comfortable and relaxed
  • feelings of being grounded and centered
  • renewed ability to set goals & manage tasks
  • feeling removed from the need to repeat behaviours
Stress

Stress is hard to define because it means different things to different people; however, it’s clear that most stress is a negative feeling rather than a positive feeling. Stress may manifest itself through physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and muscle pains. If you begin to notice that are suffering from physical symptoms such as insomnia, backaches, headaches, or high blood pressure on a regular basis, you may be suffering from stress. Similarly, if you notice that you feel “out of control”, constantly irritable, or lack a general peace of mind, you might also be dealing with the effects of having too much stress in your life.

  • better concentration
  • better attention
  • easier decision making
  • more efficient memory
  • increased immunity to stress
  • increased productivity
  • lowered susceptibility to “burning out”
  • quicker and deeper relaxation
  • better mind/body integration
  • enhanced well-being
  • increased self-confidence and assertiveness
  • development of self-awareness
Grief/Loss

Grief is a healthy and natural reaction to a significant loss in a person’s life. Grief is both an intellectual and emotional process in which the individual is trying to establish a sense of self in both the physical and psychological sense. The intellectual and emotional instability is brought about by being caught in between two worlds. The first being the world that the individual is accustomed to and comfortable with; the second world is new, foreign, and does not allow them to maintain the same routines, actions, plans, or goals that were a part of their first world.

Most people associate grief with the loss due to death, however people can grieve for a number of different reasons such as:

  • infertility
  • miscarriage or stillbirth
  • birth defects
  • brain Injury
  • neurological disorders
  • developmental disorders
  • chronic Illness
  • transitions due to job loss, moving, financial problems, divorce, or separation

Though grief is important and leads to emotional healing, it can be a prolonged and intensely painful experience, and can result in significant emotional distress. The grief reaction may last for months or years.

If you are experiencing grief/loss, you may benefit from:

  • having an increased sense of well-being
  • feeling more comfortable and relaxed
  • ability to focus
  • sleep more deeply
  • energized and feeling motivated
Anger

Righteous anger is natural and appropriate when someone has been treated unfairly. This anger empowers a person, making it possible to confront the unfair situation and turn things right.

Unfortunately, not all anger is appropriate or well placed. Sometimes people do not know how to recognize other emotions in their lives such as fear. In order to cope with that emotion these people use anger. Other times a person is rightfully angry over one situation, but displaces that emotion by turning the anger onto another situation which does not warrant it. Neurofeedback allows a person to engage the frontal lobe to think more clearly while at the same time, allow for relaxation thereby decreasing intensity of charge emotion. One client commented that now “…the outside world just doesn’t seem quite so deserving of my anger”. Perceptions both of ourselves, of the other, and of the situation will have broaden with neurofeedback.

  • better self-control
  • having an increased sense of well-being
  • feeling more comfortable and relaxed
  • ability to focus
  • increased understanding and experience of knowing that feelings aren’t facts
  • increased objectivity
  • increased sense of presence
Addictions

Any time we can assist someone in moving from a stressful state to a calm and relaxed frame of mind, and keep him or her from engaging in addictive and destructive behaviour, we will have significantly increased the probability for success. Fortunately, with neurofeedback, this is not only possible, but it is predictable as well. A 2005 study published by The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

highlights the advantages neurofeedback therapy in treating addiction. Eighty percent of subjects in this study were abstinent one-year post treatment. The study noted that the success of its subjects may lie in neurofeedback therapy’s ability to allow participants to better tolerate stress, anxiety, and anxiety-eliciting situations, which are evident during the initial phases of recovery.

The Promises Addiction center in L.A. postulate “Most people suffering from substance abuse disorders are also struggling with underlying issues, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and trauma. These co-occurring disorders often trigger relapses for clients in recovery (or prompt clients to leave treatment prematurely), so it is extremely important for clients to be treated for both their substance abuse disorder and any underlying conditions.

In a UCLA study (published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse in 2005), 77 percent of participants who received neurofeedback in conjunction with a 12-step program remained abstinent at 12 months, compared to 44 percent of those who didn’t receive neurofeedback, but who stayed in treatment longer. This study has also been successfully replicated by other research teams.

Another study of homeless male crack cocaine users showed that after receiving 12 months of neurofeedback (along with a 12-step program), 12 men graduated from the program per month. Before the study, only 12 men graduated per year.”

People who have addictions will benefit from:

  • feeling dramatically less anxious
  • having an increased sense of well-being
  • feeling more comfortable and relaxed
  • improved attention
  • improved concentration
  • ability to focus
  • increased understanding and experience of knowing that feelings aren’t facts
  • increased objectivity
  • increased sense of presence
Peak Mental Performance

Neurofeedback is a learning technique and training tool used to assist a variety of client groups such as sports people, corporate executives and military personnel to reach higher levels of mental performance. The training protocols address issues of physiological arousal, focus and attention, brain hemispheric balance, relaxation, executive function and plasticity.

People wanting to increase mental performance may experience benefits of:

  • more intentional managing of mind operation
  • more efficient allocation of its resources to meet specific needs greater usage of the potential of one’s own mind, in order to act more effectively, to obtain better achievements
  • increased concentration
  • better memory
  • enhanced ability to focus
  • increase in mental clarity
  • ability to shift from focused to relaxed
High Achieving Students – Gifted Kids and Teens

Skill, creativity, and reduction of anxiety are important components to academic performance. These components lend themselves to, being mentally ready and self-confident. As a student, neurofeedback will help you improve the relationship between your mental state and your performance ability thereby helping you to achieve better performance in academics and testing. Neurofeedback teaches you to regulate your thoughts, attention and energy. Your brain will learn to recognize when you are unfocused, overwhelmed, over analyzing and stuck, and train your brain to return to a balanced state.

Neurofeedback for gifted children and teens focuses on helping them to become even more comfortable and competent with their talents. Neurofeedback allows the brain greater flexibility which results in greater self confidence and more emotional resilience.

High achieving students and scholars – gifted children and teens may gain benefits in:

  • ability to move from one task to the next
  • flexibility to move from complete absorption to a wider focus, depending on the need
  • improved performance of tasks
  • better management of emotions
  • increased awareness of themselves and the people around them
  • ability to change from high achievement to relaxation
  • ability to create positive self-talk
Elite, Professional and Young Athletes

Neurofeedback enhances performance by improving your ability to regulate your attention, screen out distraction, and enhance your natural abilities. This approach has been shown to be highly effective in all athletic endeavours from recreational to professional sports. The 2006 World Cup was won by the Italian team who used Neurofeedback as part of their training. Locally, two Canadian medal holding Olympians Alex Bilodeau and Jennifer Heil, also incorporated neurofeedback into training through “Own The Podium”.

Athletes may achieve these results with neurofeedback:

  • improved regulation of attention and arousal
  • improved ability to manage distractions
  • reduction of internal mental chatter
  • more focused ability to learn and practice a skill
  • better energy management during intense training and competition
  • more consistent routines and rituals
  • more consistent mood management
  • reduced number of errors
  • shorter response time
  • enhanced creativity
Musicians

Neurofeedback performance training teaches you relax into the music while at the same time increasing your ability to focus and attend. It will impact performance anxiety, improvisation issues and physical tension. The outcome is that you can gain greater mastery of technique, musical expression/understanding, increased stylistic precision and imaginative interpretation. What is more, the students made significantly fewer mistakes.


By participating in this training musicians may:

  • be more attentive during performance
  • maintain attention and focus during non-playing intervals
  • make corrections and technique changes easily
  • be able to consistently manage your physiology, i.e. breathing and muscle tension
  • strategize to develop a pre-performance mental plan
  • be able to attend to the conductor, colleagues, and your own playing without losing the musicality or emotional connection to the selection by shifting your focus as needed, increase musical understanding and increase ability to use imagination
  • enhanced creativity
Visual Artists and Writers

Through neurofeedback training, artists and writers gain the freedom to allow the creative process to flow. It will help you overcome creative blocks, negative self-talk, anxiety and tension. As a result, you will acquire greater mastery of technique, creative expression and self-confidence.

Artists and Writers may experience these benefits:

  • an aptitude for creating and holding the desired imagery or story in your mind’s eye
  • the capacity to maintain attention and focus for extended periods of time
  • an aptitude for quieting the internal critic and being fully present in the moment
  • the ability to focus on technical execution without losing artistic vision
  • a more consistent, balanced flow of the creative process
  • reduced anxiety and stress
Business Professionals

The “game” of business is very similar to professional athletics in terms of the level of preparation required, the level of stress experienced, and the importance of mastering your mental state. As with professional athletics, resilience and adaptability are critical to the “business athlete”.

Mental preparation and self-confidence are as important to performance as your level of skill and training. Jim Loehr, performance psychologist, states that the key to high performance is energy management. When you learn to self-regulate your mind and relax at the appropriate times, you can use your stress to your advantage and build off of the energy.

In addition, many business people find that the training allows them to maintain a clear, focused state which enhances their ability to perceive and act on ideas. Neurofeedback can also dramatically improve communication, presentation, negotiation, and strategic thinking skills.

Business people may gain these benefits:

  • heightened focus and attention
  • reduced anxiety
  • improved skills acquisition and retention
  • increased analytical and creative thinking skills
  • strengthened communication skills
  • improved Memory