The brain is a marvelous, complicated organ responsible for our actions daily. It talks using electric signals transferred via neurons, also known as brain waves. Different brain waves correspond to different thoughts, such as daydreaming, focusing, and relaxing, as below.
Neurofeedback, also called EEG biofeedback, is a non-drug treatment, and is a type of biofeedback. EEG is basically brain training, aiming to train the brain to regulate itself, to help the person trained understand when their brain is in the desired state. This non-invasive, evidence-based therapy retrains the brain waves. Eventually, the patient can control emotions, thought and regulate into desired brain states without being monitored.
How Does Neurofeedback Work?
The purpose of neurofeedback is to train specific brain waves in a certain way using positive and negative feedback. This feedback can be visual or audio. Training is done as part of a treatment plan, usually 30 to 40 sessions. Clients usually start to see results after 5 to 10 sessions.
Neurofeedback training has been offered in the clinical setting for decades, including Singapore’s National University Hospital. This form of biofeedback uses EEG technology to read the patient’s brain waves in real time and show visual or auditory feedback based on protocols determined by the neurofeedback professional. The training, or feedback, is done using games or videos, and over time the brain learns to control itself.
One common use of neurofeedback is as a therapy to treat brain disorders. The effectiveness of neurofeedback training on some disorders have been more thoroughly researched than others, but, in general, neurofeedback training has been found to be beneficial in treating a variety of different neurological disorders, together with medication or as a stand-alone treatment.
Healthy individuals such as artists, athletes, musicians, and executives also use it to improve their performance and “stay on top of their game”. It has been shown to improve memory, promote better sleeping habits, reduce stress, and improve motor skills in healthy populations. This form of neurofeedback is known as peak performance training.
The science behind neurofeedback is that by training certain brain waves (frequencies), you can improve the brain’s functions – like thoughts, moods, and the ability to relax, or concentrate. Research has shown that specific neurological disorders correspond to too much or too little activity, measured using EEG, in certain areas of the brain.
In order to determine which brain waves need to be trained (to increase or decrease their activity) and in which area of the brain, a quantitative EEG assessment (qEEG) is often used. This assessment uses sensors on specific scalp locations to measure a person’s EEG activity and compares the results to a large database of other individuals in their age range. After identifying the brain waves and locations that are over- and under-stimulated, neurofeedback can be used to reduce or increase the specific brain waves. The instructions for neurofeedback training (which brain waves and locations to train) are called protocols. Neurofeedback protocols are determined by trained professionals according to patient symptom reports.
Any evidence that Neurofeedback Works?
The therapy was pioneered in the late 1950s and 1960s by two researchers: Dr. Joseph Kamiya at the University of Chicago and Dr. Barry Sterman at UCLA. Dr. Kamiya found that using a simple reward system people could control their brain waves. He trained people to achieve an alpha state by rewarding them with the sound of a bell. This was the first time real time feedback was given to humans based on their EEG monitoring – the first instance of neurofeedback training. In 1968, Dr. Kamiya published a paper with his findings in Psychology Today.
During the same period, Dr. Sterman found that cats in his lab could be trained to increase their brain waves at a certain frequency when rewarded with food. This frequency, which Dr. Sterman called Sensorimotor Rhythm (SMR), was between 12 and 15 Hz and is also known as Lo-Beta.
A few years later, Dr. Sterman was doing an experiment for NASA on whether rocket fuel caused seizures and he used the same cats as experiment subjects. During this study he found (to his surprise) that the cats who had undergone SMR training were significantly less likely to experience seizures than other cats. Dr. Sterman then applied this technique to humans suffering from epilepsy, where he found that 60% of the subjects were able to reduce their epileptic seizures by 20-100%, and that the results were long lasting.
In the 1970’s, Dr. Joel Lubar first began to run controlled studies applying neurofeedback training to children, adolescents, and adults to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Since then, a significant body of research on the efficacy of neurofeedback therapy for the treatment of ADHD has emerged, with many studies showing significant and long-term improvements after neurofeedback treatment.
All patients are suitable for Neurofeedback in the hands of trained professionals. Our professionals will assess your child’s age and behaviour to determine the right neurofeedback protocols and intensity to use. This is personalised to your child and progress is tracked each session. Feedback from parents so far said their children enjoyed every neurofeedback session. There is an observable increase in attention span as well after a few sessions. You can get a free consultation and perhaps even a free trial with Mr Tan, our trained neurofeedback professional to see how effective neurofeedback will be for your child. Contact us for your complimentary no-obligations assessment today.
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