What is Neurofeedback?
Biofeedback is an equipment oriented training therapy. The following three components are part of every biofeedback training session:
- An instrument detects a specific biological activity
- A trainee is reinforced with graphics or tones the moment that activity manifests
- Regulation of that (desireable) activity results
Neurofeedback is the modality of biofeedback that relates to brain metabolism. Sensors (electrodes) are placed on the scalp to powerful amplifiers that record microvolts originating from the cerebral cortex. No input of electricity takes place: neurofeedback's sensors detects the electroencephalogram (EEG) and then electronic filters transform it into its integral parts. Measuring the EEG may be compared to measuring the body's internal temperature with a thermometer. All modalities of biofeedback are based upon two primary concepts:
- Operant conditioning
Self-regulation means that success depends upon two interdependent factors: client motivation and clinician skill. The book Getting Started with Neurofeedback describes the process as being "orchestrated by the therapist and played out by the client." Operant conditioning means that clients are reinforced at the moment that their individual pattern of brain waves meet specific criteria determined by electronic filters. Operant conditioning is the process of reinforcing naturally occuring events. Reinforcement comes when the client receives a auditory tone, visual graphic or tactile sensation each time he or she meets the criteria of a defined filter. Amazingly, after just a few reinforcing auditory beeps or signals, the brain responds by adjusting brain wave patterns. If the clinician has determined appropriate training goals then the client learns to regulate his or her brain metabolism for good. Also, if adequate training has been delivered then the client can reproduce healthy brain wave patterns without the use of equipment. Neurofeedback is an exciting training technique that often leads to symptom reduction and peak performance-without the use of drugs.