Neurofeedback: A Century-Old Rise to Fame in the Medical World

Almost a century ago, German psychiatrist, Hans Berger set out on a quest to find connections between physical and mental functions of the human brain. Using sheer ingenuity and scientific knowledge, he attached electrodes to the scalp of a willing volunteer and discovered electrical currents emitting from his patient’s brain in various states of mental stimulation.

Ultimately, his studies gave rise to the science of Neurofeedback. Over the years, numerous names in the field took those studies in different directions; as a result, this technique has now branched out considerably and become a viable treatment for a wide range of mental conditions.

What Is Neurofeedback, Exactly?

As alluded to, those small metal discs first put in place by Berger were able to detect brain waves. When connected to monitoring devices, they had the capacity to track people’s reactions to certain stimuli. Berger and his successors eventually learned ways of determining whether the brain was operating smoothly as is should or certain glitches were taking place by following and evaluating readouts provided by their equipment.

Once this discovery came about, NFB’s potential in treating an array of conditions really took off. Scientists realized if it was possible to find irregularities in brain function, it may be able to combine this knowledge with the brain’s innate ability to retrain itself or bypass defective areas. From there, the road to potentially more effective cures was paved.

What Types of Conditions Might Benefit from Neurofeedback?

Initially, this type of technology took on a more shallow form. Artists, musicians, dancers, writers and other members of the creative community underwent mental and, by extension, physical retraining courtesy of biofeedback to enhance their respective talents. Studies showed significant effectiveness in this realm, leading to other applications. Today, this technique is used on those who suffer from such conditions as:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Stroke
  • Brain Injury
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Each of these involves an interruption in normal brain wave patterns though the origin of the glitches varies. Obviously, if those facing these conditions knew exactly where, when and why the disturbances took place, they could either see them coming and avoid them or compensate for them as they arise. Since they’re hidden deep within the firing of neurons, or misfiring as the case may be, and occur involuntarily, this isn’t possible without help.

Where Does Neurofeedback Come into Play?

NFB provides intervention in breaks from normal brain activity. Monitoring equipment tracks patients’ brain waves, and when an interruption occurs, it alerts them to the dysfunction. In the process, the brain learns to retrain itself or reroute to avoid broken pathways. It’s often used in conjunction with physical or mental therapy to help combat various conditions.

What are the Main Benefits of Neurofeedback?

Perhaps the primary advantage of NFB is its non-invasive nature. Whereas surgery, electroshock and other conventional treatments can take their toll on patients, this option generally leaves them more relaxed, confident and knowing they’re taking a approach to their own treatment.

This is also a direct form of treatment targeting the root cause of the condition at hand. Pharmaceuticals may help combat symptoms on some level, but they often do little to fight the illness.

Unlike some treatments, NFB is completely safe for the recipient and requires no conscious effort in order to be effective. At the same time, treatment can be tailored to the specific needs and issues being faced by each patient rather than being a one-size-fits-all approach.

What Happens during a Neurofeedback Session?

Following a thorough consultation to determine the issues to be treated, a patient will be placed in a quiet, comfortable setting. Then, electrodes are affixed to the patient’s scalp and connected to monitoring equipment. Though a wide range of specific techniques are used, this equipment generally tracks brain waves and alerts the patient in some way when an interruption is detected. Over time, the brain learns to reset itself at the onset of an issue rather than leaving the patient to suffer through his or her condition unaided.

Since its introduction back in the early 1900s, neurofeedback has risen to fame in the medical world. Despite considerable skepticism even today, the technique is now used in a wide range of treatments either alone or in tandem with other proven methods. It has become an effective tools in promoting brain health as well as physical and emotional well-being.

A great site for more information is “The Brain Performance Center” in Dallas and Irving.  They have proven credentials and provide a range of treatments in the area of neurofeedback, including EEG, LENS, and HEG methodologies. Below, the owner Leigh Richardson explains: