What is Neurofeedback?

By Susan Pollard, LPC

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Neurofeedback is one of the more powerful transformative technologies available today. It is a drug-free, non-invasive, form of brain self-regulation that improves the central nervous system by training the brain to operate at it's individual optimal level. Neurofeedback deciphers and then alters an individual's brainwaves (the language of the brain) to facilitate better mental performance, mental health, and well-being with no side effects. Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, is based on thousands of psychological studies and five decades of research and practice.

I have been trained in many different neurofeedback systems, but by far, the most effective and most cutting edge equipment is Zengar's NeurOptimal Neurofeedback. NeurOptimal neurofeedback works by training the brain to use the present moment to decide what to do next, rather than using it's old, often maladaptive patterns. It does this by triggering what’s called the "orienting response," which is the brain’s ability to sense change in the environment and take in new information about what is different. It then offers the brain feedback and moment-to-moment information about itself. This enables optimal functioning no matter what the origin of the dysfunction is. Using neurofeedback also creates neuroplasticity, the process of forming new healthy neurotransmitter patterns, once thought to only take place during childhood. We now know neuroplasticity can occur throughout a person's lifetime, even well into old age. It is now seen to be crucial to the healthy aging process. During a neurofeedback session, a few EEG (electroencephalogram) sensors are placed on the head and ears to collect the information about the brain’s activity, which gets fed into the technician’s computer. The sensitivity of the software is set so that peaks of over or under-active brainwaves are detected. Every detection of turbulence triggers a very brief (microsecond) interruption in the music the client is listening to and in the screen the client is watching. It is the interruption of the music (or movie) and the static in the screen that becomes feedback to the brain. Using the brain's survival inclination towards pattern and organization, the neurofeedback static is considered unwanted chaotic activity. The brain desires to decrease the turbulence, and in turn, increases its efficiency (effectively reducing or eliminating the symptoms produced by the static). When the music stops, it triggers the orienting response, by creating a positive reaction in the brain. It enables the change to "come into the present” and alter it's behavior. In other words, it is able essentially to "look in a mirror" and notice what's not on track and change it, all in milliseconds and outside of conscious awareness. Using neurofeedback helps the brain become more effective at its various tasks, meaning it processes more efficiently with less effort. Each time the brain stabilizes during a training session, it gets more efficient at returning to stability and developing its capacity to maintain it for increasing periods of time. Eventually, the change becomes permanent and automatic, just like learning to ride a bike or speak a language.

Susan is available for Neurofeedback services as well as psychotherapy with neurofeedback. Please call the office or contact Susan directly for more information or to schedule a session.

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