Have you have ever changed your clothes, changed your hair, or decide to join a gym after looking in a mirror? Neurofeedback works in a similar way. It reflects to the mind how the brain is performing. In other words, neurofeedback presents information to the brain about what’s happening in the brain.
Consider a scale or a thermometer. They each give us feedback about the physical part of our being. Neurofeedback is also a type of biological (bio) feedback. It simply focuses on the brain. Just as the mirror is an instrument used independently of the body to tell us about our bodies, neurofeedback acts as a type of mirror telling us information about our brains.
Concerning more severe issues, such as PTSD and ADHD, or on the other end of the spectrum, less severe cases, say someone simply wants to up his golf game, neurofeedback can provide the brain with a picture (of sorts) reflecting what normal, or high functioning looks like. Because the mind has a directive of operating at its highest function and it likes to be rewarded, the brain will change itself to perform at a more desirable, and/ or higher function, simply by using the neurofeedback’s “mirror or picture.”
As an illustration: When you learned a new task such as riding a bike, each time you felt good about how you did on the bike that day, your mind rewarded the brain with serotonin (a chemical in the brain that makes you feel good). Because the brain was rewarded, it has a desire to perform the same task at the same level or higher the next time.
In order to retrain the brain to a more normal and/ or higher function, we give the brain rewards for functioning within an assigned quantitative normal range. Thus producing pleasure and high efficiency. An article I the Scientific American (2008) tells us the following:
“It is well established that the brain uses more energy than any other human organ, accounting for up to 20 percent of the body’s total haul.”
Because the brain uses so much of the body’s overall fuel, it is always looking for ways look to run efficiently- when it does it receives rewards for finding faster, easier ways of functioning. The brain does this by creating new neuro-pathways. Through the mirror or pictures provided by neurofeedback, the brain creates the shortcut of a new pathway to get a task done. When the pathway is created it’s much like building a bridge across a river. Instead of taking hours to find a shallow place to cross, we humans build a bridge and save ourselves the trouble of searching. Since we have a 100,000,000,000 (that’s billion) neurons providing paths to getting just one a task done (that’s a lot of rivers to cross), let’s start building some bridges!
Neurofeedback can be helpful with these issues:
- Anxiety disorders such as panic, phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Depression or mood disorders
- Attention deficit disorder or problems with focus and inattention, brain fog
- Impulse control issues, impulsivity
- Learning disabilities
- Insomnia or sleep problems
- Head injury
- Migraine headaches
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia
- Tics or Tourette’s disorder
- Anger or rage issues
- Stress-related conditions