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What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback training is a method through which the brain is exercised. A healthy functioning brain needs to be stable and flexible.

Does your child struggle to concentrate at school or sit still for a while; is your child sometimes anxious and nervous with tummy- or all kinds of other aches? Do you as a parent sometimes feel down and depressed, have frequent headaches or migraines, worry excessively and endlessly or do you struggle to perform at your best at work?

All these symptoms are – at least partially – caused by a brain that is not regulated properly anymore. In many cases chronic stress and the related changes in biochemical processes of the brain are creating this imbalance.  Stress, although necessary to some extent, can make us ill, if it becomes overwhelming and chronic. Even our kids are often stressed nowadays!

A healthy well regulated brain is more robust and functions better. A well regulated brain manages ‘life’ better; it is calmer, thinks more clearly, remembers better and deals better with the stresses of daily living.

Disregulation manifests itself in many ways. Because the brain is not functioning as it should, many things that normally happen routinely in the brain simply don’t happen anymore. This can cause many debilitating conditions like depression, ADHD, migraines, sleeping problems and many others. Multiple and ongoing negative stress is one of the reasons, why a brain gets stuck in a specific brain speed and loses its ability to adapt states as needed.
Depending on the individual’s nature and coping strategy the brain might get stuck in excessive fast waves (beta-waves) which will make a person more tensed, worried, anxious. Another way of coping would be to shut down and dive into slow wave activity, which will make a person not concentrate well, daydream, drowsy, disorganized and unmotivated. It’s all about timing and speed of the brain.

Neurofeedback is a training tool for the brain, which can help the brain to regain control of its ‘stuck’ states. It facilitates normal state shifts so that Central Nervous System can take over again. Self regulation is re-instated after sufficient training. Above mentioned symptoms disappear and the person’s wellbeing and performance will improve. Life normalizes and the ability to cope with normal life stressors increases to a more suitable level.

How does Neurofeedback work?

The principal used here is Biofeedback. If you are made aware of any automatic regulated body function like temperature, muscle tone or heart rate, you can learn to change it! Neurofeedback is Biofeedback for the brain. A person is sitting comfortably in a chair in front of a screen. The brain waves are read via sensors on the scalp into computer software. The ‘live’ brain activity is instantly played back to you on the screen.

All brainwave activity which will allow a better state management and self regulation, will be rewarded. You can select a feedback of your choice like a game (car race or flying spaceships etc.) or a DVD or simply music. When the brain is doing well the game will start and the objects will move faster, thus making it more exciting or the DVD movie will be enabled, the music will become slightly louder.

The moment your brain is not doing well anymore the game will slow down, the DVD will be disabled and the music will become softer. With this constant and consistent feedback your brain will learn to do better and better. With sufficient exercise self regulation will return. Once proper brain regulation is re-established, effects normally last.

The training is usually experienced as easy and lots of fun. It is non-invasive and side effect free, if done by a trained NFB provider. Sessions usually take 45 minutes and depending on severity and duration of symptoms. Effectiveness of NFB training can usually be seen between the first 4-8 sessions. It takes on average between 20 to 40 sessions for solid improvements. It can be done for children and adults alike.

Thousands of people have found relief from mild to severe symptoms in the past 20 years. NFB is still fairly new in South Africa and therefore not well known yet. Most NFB practitioners are based in Johannesburg, some in Cape Town and Durban and a few more in the more rural areas.

For those who are interested in research studies about effectiveness please google for Neurofeedback and Sterman, Lubar, Penniston, Othmer, Ayes, Nash, Moore, Duffy to name just a few. Helpful website would also be with its comprehensive bibliography.

Wiseminds Training Centre (PMB)This information has been provided by Natja du Preez from WiseMinds Training Centre (PMB), offering a unique exercise to enhance success, overall wellbeing and creativity for you and your family.