EEG Biofeedback (or neurofeedback) is a learning strategy that works to improve the brain’s ability to produce certain brainwaves. You can think of it as exercise for the brain much like the way exercise works to strengthen muscles. When information about a person’s own brainwave characteristics is made available to him/her, they can learn to change them. Neurofeedback instruments show the kind of waves a person is producing, making it possible for the individual to learn to change in ways to improve attention. It is essentially self-regulation training.
NEUROFEEDBACK using EEG (Electroencephalography) can show us areas of the brain which don’t function well due to stress, brain damage, epilepsy, stroke, ADD or ADHD, poor performance, memory loss etc. Biofeedback simply means feedback of information to you from an instrument which is monitoring a physiological process you are learning to control. EEG Biofeedback (Neurofeedback) is a specific learning technique that enables a person to control and modify his or her brainwaves and directly affect behaviour, academic performance, as well as physical and emotional awareness. Neurofeedback is a non-invasive technique. The brainwave activity is monitored by a computer from sensors placed on the scalp. Changes in the brainwaves reflect changes in the state of arousal, from sleep to alert wakefulness. The computer rewards the trainee for producing the desired frequency, which characterizes a focused attention. The training is accomplished by operant conditioning. The feedback from the instruments may be visual, auditory or tactile. The trainee uses the information from the body to initiate and maintain desired mental/physiological changes. The effects of the treatment are permanent and long lasting. The applications of the neurofeedback are numerous, encompassing diagnostics related to stress induced disorders, such as hypertension, tension headaches, insomnia, or diabetes, as well as cognitive disorders, such as attention deficit disorder, memory impairments, and psychological disturbances (depression, anxiety, or eating disorders), etc.
By using this knowledge, therapists are able to help us retrain the areas of the brain which do not function well. Significant benefits are shown by almost everyone who goes through the training, whether it be for brain injury, sleep apnea, bedwetting, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, memory impairment, visual perception, seizures, migraine headaches, chronic pain, depression, dizziness and vertigo. It is also possible to help normal patients achieve optimum performance levels in sports, sales, tests, and other areas of life where doing your best has become a challenge.
In 1963, Barry Sterman first documented epilepsy while working with the EEG fingerprint of the brain and it’s designated functions. He then used Neurofeedback in the treatment of epilepsy based on its operant conditioning effect. Neurofeedback therapists have since treated thousands of patients with good results in epilepsy (Sterman, Finley, Lubar), ADD (Alhambra, Barabasz, Dobbins, Fehmi, Lubar) and Parkinson’s (Pozzi, Santos). TBI work was a natural extension from the epilepsy work and Margaret Ayers who worked with Sterman has presented a great number of TBI cases including some comatose, since 1978, treated by her with Neurofeedback training with success (Ayers, 1987,1991,1997). The number of publications increases every year with the addition of increasingly centers offering Neurofeedback and reporting their positive results. (See the numerous references at the end of the chapter).