Simply put, neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback. But what is biofeedback? Biofeedback is a process of taking a signal imperceptible to us as humans, typically an electrical impulse, and using electronic equipment and an amplifier to amplify this signal that lies below the level of awareness for most of us. Once we are able to read the signal, we provide feedback to the person receiving the biofeedback or neurofeedback.
For example, if we want a brain wave to grow stronger, we provide a biofeedback signal every time that wave gets a bit stronger. The same process applies if we want that brain wave to be weaker.
So, in essence, biofeedback is a very organic, natural process in that nothing invasive is done to the brain or body. That’s why it has a very low risk compared to medications or almost any other form of treatment. With neurofeedback, we can only reward the brain for a state that it has already achieved. This is important to understand because we are not forcing it into any particular state. So, for example, if we have a very high theta wave, as is often the case with anxiety or ADD, we can use neurofeedback to bring theta down, often in remarkable ways.
When such an elevated brain wave fluctuates and comes down a tiny amount, the individual receiving neurofeedback gets a reward signal in the form of a reward tone or increasing brightness. There’s no real conscious effort required. As you sit and absorb the feedback, the learning occurs unconsciously, and your brain becomes more neuroplastic, more flexible, learns, expands, and grows.
We have seen this result in hundreds of studies over the past 40-45 years, to the point that neurofeedback has recently been categorized as a level four or five treatment. Level five is the highest level of treatment possible in the world of mental health, used for anxiety, depression, and many forms of ADD and ADHD. Hundreds of studies with no reported side effects have proved its remarkable effectiveness.
The bottom line is that we are giving the individual receiving neurofeedback a very precise feedback signal when that brain moves in a desirable, healthier direction. Done repeatedly over time, we can completely change the trajectory of an individual’s brain wave patterns. When these brain waves change, patterns of dysfunction, whether cognitive, emotional or behavioral, shift dramatically overtime.