What Is Neurofeedback?

byDan Dinsmoor, Ph.D.

For decades we have known that it was possible to change physiological function through biofeedback. Biofeedback involves measuring an aspect of physiological function (e.g. finger temperature), and presenting that information to the individual as a basis for training in improved physiological self-regulation. Now, it is possible to train the brain directly, rather than using peripheral measures. This is accomplished by using sensors to record the electrical activity of the brain, and presenting that information to the patient in a computer game format.

Children we see in our practice often come in with a variety of problems including impulsivity, hyperactivity, inattention, problems with mood, and disruptive behavior. Typically, we can demonstrate improvements with these problems within a relatively short number of clinical sessions.

Initial sessions involve collecting information about the problems of concern to parents, and getting the children acclimated to the treatment process.

As sessions progress, the treatment protocol is fine tuned to the individual child, as we come to understand the particulars of the treatment protocol the child is most likely to respond to.

Parents are very closely involved in the treatment process, and we often consult with schools as well. The first part of the treatment session is spent in reviewing how the child responded to the previous session at home and at school, and then modifying the treatment protocol accordingly.

Usually within five or six sessions, we see clear improvement in clinical symptoms. It often takes a minimum of twenty treatment sessions to deepen the treatment process, and to make clinical changes long lasting. In some cases, treatment beyond twenty sessions is recommended. In many of these cases, treatment can be continued in the home, with periodic consultation with our staff to make sure the treatment process is proceeding as planned.

Neurofeedback is often felt to be particularly appropriate for brain based problems that have been intractable in terms of other treatment modalities. We have been able to be consistently helpful in the treatment of Autistic spectrum children, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Conduct and Bipolar disorders, and Tourettes Syndrome. These treatment procedures are also very helpful with problems of anxiety and mood.

Additional information concerning neurofeeback can be found on the EEG Info Web site.