What Can I Expect?
- STEP ONE: Assessment
- STEP TWO: Create a map of your brain functioning
- STEP THREE: Training
- STEP FOUR: Lasting results
Initially, your neurofeedback provider will do a thorough intake to learn about symptoms you may have, any prior head traumas, sleep patterns, diet and exercise routines and general information about you. This is done in the form of a face-to-face interview, answering questions.
In our office, we use QEEG technology to understand how the different areas of the brain are functioning and communicating with each other. This allows us to develop an individualized neurofeedback training program that aims to improve your brain wave functioning, relieve your symptoms and optimize your life.
The Quantitative EEG (QEEG) is a statistical analysis of digitally recorded brainwave activity. The electrical patterns produced by brain cells are recorded with small sensors on the scalp (electrodes) that are connected to an electroencephalograph. Nineteen electrodes are placed on the scalp in the form of a cap. This is done three times: with eyes closed, eyes open and during a task. The procedure typically lasts 60-75 minutes.
The EEG measures the electrical energy released by nerve cells at work. The numbers of brain cells firing at different speeds produce the brainwave patterns seen on the EEG. The brainwaves have names, but in general, the speedier brainwaves are used for thinking while the slower ones are used for relaxation and to maintain involuntary bodily functions. Neurofeedback allows us to regulate our brainwave patterns.
QEEG utilizes a computerized spectral analysis which breaks down the EEG into its component wave bands of differing frequencies. Then, it measures, for each of the 19 channels, the wave band frequencies, amplitudes, asymmetries between analogous points of measurement, and the phase relationship between different points of the brain.
The QEEG has rapidly become a standard assessment of brain function measuring how major brain regions work and interrelate. The QEEG is not a diagnostic tool and the results are best understood within the context of other standardized tests, observation and medical consultation.
The QEEG has a 40-year history of clinical use. Many neurofeedback providers consider the QEEG invaluable for planning neurofeedback treatment because the QEEG results clearly illustrate global brain wave patterns and specify which brain regions and frequencies need to be trained. Having a
QEEG completed won’t guarantee successful treatment but many clinicians find that the QEEG frequently leads to more efficient training and more effective results.
After the QEEG results have been reviewed, neurofeedback training may begin. Each session, electrodes will be placed on the scalp at the locations indicated by the assessment. In addition, one or more clips are placed on the earlobes. The information is carried from the brain through the electrodes to the EEG machine. The electrodes only receive information from the brain and reward certain healthy brainwave activity; they do not send anything into your brain. Clients generally feel nothing during the session or they feel a general sense of well-being and calm. The clinician will ask for feedback during the session to make any necessary adjustments and provide a positive session as you train your brain.
You may watch a computer screen, listen to audio tones, play games or watch a movie during a session. When your brain creates an optimal rhythm, the technology allows the game or movie to continue. If the brain falls out of the desired pattern, the game or movie will slow or stop until the brain returns to the more efficient pattern. Through careful tuning, the neurofeedback practitioner adjusts the settings during the session so that you receive rewards based on optimal brainwave patterns.
In essence, it is much like exercise. With neurofeedback, we are exercising the brain and teaching it to maintain healthy patterns through repeated practice. By receiving feedback rewards, the brain changes itself so it creates more of the rewarded healthy pattern with greater consistency. In many cases, people wonder if they’ve done anything at all, and, just like exercise, over time, the brain stays more healthy and balanced. Results from brain training can be noticed during sessions or in the days following a session.
During a neurofeedback session, you may receive as little as 15 minutes or as much as one hour of training depending upon your brain’s receptivity. Sometimes you may be an active participant in changing your brain wave pattern but often the feedback will allow your brain to change itself without any effort on your part. In our clinic, typically 35-40 sessions of neurofeedback constitutes a complete training program. However, the length of treatment at our clinic varies widely. People who have a traumatic brain injury, degenerative neurological condition or complex trauma history may expect to continue treatment much longer than 40 sessions in order to maintain an improved level of functioning.
Follow-up research indicates the improvements last decades after initial treatment.