Neurofeedback

Have you ever seen a science fiction movie where an actor wears a thin skull-cap with wires extending from it and connecting to a recording machine? That machine, called an electroencephalogram or EEG, records brain waves in response to different types of physical, mental, or emotional stimuli. It's not just science fiction! It's Neurofeedback (NF), a scientifically supported modality that can help improve or change behavior, including learning and memory.

From the moment you’re born and throughout life, your brain is making neural connections based on your experiences. Everything you do, see, sense – performing a task, responding emotionally, learning a skill, or making observations – creates a neural pattern. The more you practice something, the stronger that neural pattern becomes. The less you use a certain neural pattern, the weaker it becomes (and eventually you “forget” how to do something!).

NF uses video, music, games, and/or specific tasks (like writing your name) to help train the brain to form new neural connections. A specially trained clinician monitors the EEG to assess how a person is responding. Once a pattern is established, regular NF sessions help reinforce the pattern. Over time, this results in new learning that can endure for years or a lifetime.

There’s good evidence that NF can help prevent cognitive decline in the normal aging process. Healthy older adults have shown improvements in working memory after a short, intensive series of NF sessions. New research is looking at whether or not NF improves symptoms associated with dementia disorders. In fact, a study with older adults with Alzheimer’s disease, NF brought about improvement in recall of information and recognition.

In many states, health agencies regulate the practice of NF practitioners who treat medical conditions. If you’re interested in learning more about NF, ask your physician for resources or check for a practitioner listed with your state association of neurofeedback practitioners.

 

Resources

Hosseini, S.M., Pritchard-Berman, M. et al., “Task-based neurofeedback training: A novel approach toward training executive functions.” Neuroimage. (2016 Jul) 1:134, 153-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.03.035. Accessed 9 Nov 2016: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27015711

Luimes, R.E., et al., “The effectiveness of neurofeedback on cognitive functioning in patients with Alzheimer’s disease: Preliminary results.” Neurophysiol Clin. (2016 Jun) 46(3):179-87. doi: 10.1016/j.neucli.2016.05.069. Accessed 9 Nov 2016: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/27374996/?i=10&from=neurofeedback%20and%20cognitive%20function

Yucha, C. & Gilbert, C., “Evidenced-Based Practice in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback.” Monograph for the Association of Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback: An International Society for mind-body research, health care, and education. (2004) Accessed 9 Nov 2016: https://www.aapb.org/files/public/Yucha-Gilbert_EvidenceBased2004.pdf *2016 textbook edition available: http://www.resourcenter.net/Scripts/4Disapi9.dll/store/evidence-based-practice-in-biofeedback-and-neurofeedback/23296/

Albert, A. O., Andrasik, F., Moore, J. L., & Dunn, B. R. “Theta/beta training for attention, concentration and memory improvement in the geriatric population.” Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, (1998) 23(2), 109. Annotated Bibliography via: http://www.sebernfisher.com/select-abstracts-neurofeedback-and-peak-performance/

Reis, Joana et al. “An Alpha and Theta Intensive and Short Neurofeedback Protocol for Healthy Aging Working-Memory Training.” Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 8 (2016): 157. PMC. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4936375/

*Additional Working Memory Research Articles: https://www.wellnessip.com/research/working_memory.html

Angelakis, E., Stathopoulou, S., Frymiare, et al,. “EEG neurofeedback: A brief overview and an example of peak alpha frequency training for cognitive enhancement in the elderly.” Clinical Neuropsych. (2007) 21(1), 110-129. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17366280

Budzynski, T., Budzynski, H. K., &l Tang, H-Y. “Brain brightening: restoring the aging mind.” Chapter in J. R. Evans (Ed.), Handbook of Neurofeedback. (2007) Binghampton, NY: Haworth Medical Press, 231–265. http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=search.displayRecord&uid=2007-13399-010

TheWashingtonPost.com. “Therapists are using neurofeedback to treat ADHD, PTSD and other conditions” (post by Karidis, A., January 19, 2015). Accessed 9 Nov 2016: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/therapists-are-using-neurofeedback-to-treat-adhd-ptsd-and-other-conditions/2015/01/16/b38e6cee-5ec3-11e4-91f7-5d89b5e8c251_story.html

International Society for Neurofeedback and Research. http://www.isnr.org

PsychCentral.com “Neurofeedback Training for your Brain” (post by Groyhol, J.). Accessed 9 Nov 2016: http://psychcentral.com/lib/neurofeedback-training-for-your-brain/

Information about Biofeedback Practitioners: Association of Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback http://www.aapb.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3281