How is Neurofeedback done?

We apply sensors to the scalp to gather brainwave activity, and this signal is processed by computer. Information is extracted about key brainwave frequencies.The display shows the ebb and flow of this activity back to the person–or really, to that person’s brain, which is much more acute about evaluating that information than the individual.

Some frequencies we wish to promote, while others we want to diminish. This is information presented to the person’s brain in the form of a video game, while the person’s mind is entertained by the game or video.The person is effectively playing the video game with his or her brain. Eventually the brainwave activity is “shaped” toward more desirable, more regulated performance. The frequencies we target, and the specific locations on the scalp where we gather the brainwave activity, are specific to the conditions we are trying to address, and specific to the individual.

While the person sits in a comfortable chair, we place sensors on the scalp (with a sticky paste–it washes off) to pick up the brain’s electrical energy and send it to a computer. The computer processes the energy signal and gives the “feedback” to the person about what their brain is doing.

The activity of the person’s brain is displayed on the therapist’s monitor so everyone can see it, and also on a “game” computer monitor, in the form of a video game or DVD. There are several different games to choose from, and, these days, people can also watch DVDs (movies) which are also manipulated to serve as brain trainers while the person’s mind is entertained by the game or movie. When the person’s brainwaves meet the goals we’ve developed for their specific brain—meaning, their experience is one of being calm, relaxed and mentally clear—the game or movie operates optimally.

The person doesn’t “think” about how they want the brain to work, but simply watches the display and lets the brain do the work. Just as you can walk without thinking about exactly what your legs and feet are doing at every moment because your brain handles the walking tasks automatically, the person training can enjoy the game or movie while their brain is learning to handle the task of making it go automatically.

Using the example of a child in class, we want the child to be able to pay attention to the teacher without having to think “Pay attention, pay attention” all the time, as this would destroy the effectiveness in doing so. Likewise, we want a brain to feel cheerful and alert, or calm and relaxed, without having to give it continual verbal commands to do so.