The Nature of Neurofeedback Training


Though the technology is quite complex, the training procedure is relatively simple, pailess, and non-invasive.
 Electrodes are applied to the individual’s scalp and brainwave activity is transmitted to a computer. Momentary increases or decreases in brain activity are monitored and instantly fed back to the individual in either a visual or auditory format (e.g. video/games, sounds), so that you see and hear representations of your brain in action.

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By having an awareness of fluctuating brain activity, the individual can attempt to influence and change their brain patterns through feedback presented in the form of video-files, DVDs, game or sounds.

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The aim of neurofeedback is to reduce or limit certain types of brainwaves and increase others. (The specific brain frequencies and scalp locations targeted will depend on the conditions that are being addressed, and will be specific to the individual).

If the individual’s brain activity changes in the desired direction, feedback is given in the form of a positive "reward", (e.g. improved video/game play, increased pitch/volume of sounds), thereby reinforcing the desired change in brain activity. Video/game play or auditory stimuli will be limited until appropriate brainwave activity is again produced, at which point the video/game or sounds continue.  

 

During neurofeedback training, individuals also practice maintaining appropriate brainwave states when engaged in school or work related tasks (e.g., reading) thereby helping them to apply it to their daily activities. Using this repeated process of conditioning, the treatment becomes enduring. The individual gradually learns to gain control over certain brain frequencies, which after a number of sessions, will eventually be reflected in more desirable behaviour, diminishing symptoms, and more regulated performance.

             

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To illustrate further just how neurofeedback works, imagine a neurofeedback game involving a square “box” displayed in the centre of the computer screen. The box gets bigger as the person's targeted brainwave increases in amplitude (as detected by electrodes on the scalp), or shrinks as the brainwave decreases. The goal in this instance might be to try and keep the box as small as possible. In order to do this successfully, the individual must concentrate on keeping the box small. As the person concentrates, their brain activity changes, and the box is mentally controlled. Every time the individual is successful in getting or keeping the box small, rewards will also be received in the form of sounds and/or score increases. Over time, it becomes easier for the individual to maintain the desired brain state, and eventually there will be no need for feedback and rewards, and neurofeedback is successful.



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