What is Neurotherapy and Neurofeedback?

Neurotherapy also called Neurofeedback training or brainwave (EEG) Biofeedback, is a type of alternative therapy.  More specifically, it is a form of biofeedback that uses real-time displays of electroencephalography (EEG) to illustrate brain activity. During a typical training, one or two sensors are placed on the scalp and one on each earlobe. Then, the high-tech electronic equipment provides a real-time (instantaneous) audio and visual feedback about brainwave activity. The sensors measure the electrical patterns coming from the brain–much like a physician listens to someone’s heart from the surface of the chest. No electrical current is put into the brain. The brainwave patterns are relayed to the computer and recorded.

Retrain Your Brain

Ordinarily, we cannot influence our brainwave patterns because we lack awareness of them. However, when you can see your brainwaves on a computer screen a few thousandths of a second after they occur, it gives you the ability to influence and change them. The mechanism of action is called operant conditioning. We are literally reconditioning and retraining the brain. At first, the changes are short-lived, but the changes gradually become more enduring. With continuing feedback, coaching, and practice, we can usually re-train healthier brainwave patterns in most people. It is a little like exercising or doing physical therapy with the brain, enhancing cognitive flexibility and control.

What Does Neurofeedback Treat?

Whether the problem stems from ADD/ADHD, Autism, a Learning disability, a Stroke, head injury, deficits following neurosurgery, uncontrolled epilepsy, cognitive dysfunction associated with aging, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or other brain-related conditions, Neurotherapy training offers additional opportunities for rehabilitation through directly retraining the brain.

The exciting thing is that even when a problem is biological in nature, we now have another treatment alternative than just medication. Neurotherapy is also being used increasingly to facilitate peak performance in “normal” individuals and athletes. Frank H. Duffy, M.D., a Professor and Pediatric Neurologist at Harvard Medical School, stated in an editorial in the January 2000 issue of the journal Clinical Electroencephalography that scholarly literature now suggests that “Neurotherapy should play a major therapeutic role in many difficult areas. In my opinion, if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy it would be universally accepted and widely used” (p. v). It is a field to be taken seriously by all” (p. vii).

Extract from an article by Professor Corydon Hammond. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. University of Utah School of Medicine.

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