Neurofeedback (NFB) is a treatment method for the brains, in which a person can learn to get control over his or her brainwaves. It is a technique that can readjust (tune) the nervous system, so that a variety of symptoms can be treated.
Every brain produces brainwaves that can be measured and recorded with an electroencephalogram (EEG). An EEG is a representation of the electrical activity produced by our brains, measured by placing electrodes on the skull. By visualizing the brain activity and rewarding the brains for producing the right brainwaves, the functioning of the brains can be influenced. Brainwaves adapt to a person’s current state. In case of disorders, such as concentration problems, the brains are insufficiently capable of producing the desired brain activity that is appropriate for that situation, which makes it difficult for a person to concentrate. It is possible, however, to teach the brains to produce the desired waves. This can be done by measuring and influencing brain activity by rewarding (feedback) for the desired brainwaves. By repeating this several sessions, the brains can then do this by themselves.
Neurofeedback has achieved good results in practice with the treatment of:
- Attention disorders (ADD and ADHD).
- Anxiety symptoms.
- Autism and related disorders (PDD-NOS and Asperger’s syndrome).
- Burnout and stress-related symptoms.
- Chronic fatigue.
- Cardiovascular diseases (CVD).
- Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.
- Brain trauma.
- Migraine and headache.
- Nonverbal learning disorder (NLD).
- Pre-menstrual syndrome.
- Sleep disorders.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Prior to the treatment, the symptoms are discussed and an EEG recording is done. In the EEG can very accurately be seen where the deviating brainwaves are located.
Based on the findings of the intake, a treatment protocol will be drawn up and the results of the intake and the treatment protocol are discussed with the patient. The treatment protocol describes where and which brainwaves will be ‘trained’. Then the treatment starts.
During the neurofeedback treatment, the patient is sitting on a comfortable chair behind a private screen. The brain activity at the spot(s) on the skull, as determined in the treatment protocol, is measured by means of the EEG. The information from the EEG is amplified and passed on to the therapist by means of a neurofeedback device. The therapist follows this brain activity and - depending on what the patient wants to achieve - the therapist sets threshold values, so that the patient receives reward (positive feedback) via a movie or sound when he or she produces the correct amount of the desired brainwaves. As it were, the brain is thus rewarded for producing the right brain activity.
After an intensive treatment period, a person is able to reproduce this state of awareness without the equipment.
Studies would show that in 70 to 80% of people, the symptoms reduce after neurofeedback therapy.
- Both children and adults can benefit from neurofeedback treatment.
- Neurofeedback is not suitable for people with severe psychiatric problems.
- The effectiveness of neurofeedback is being questioned by critics.