Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback constitutes a non-intrusive, non-pharmacological and painless method that aims at brain’s training. This method stemmed from biofeedback since both of them are based on operant learning receiving a feedback (Demos, 2005; Hammond, 2011). The feedback is an audio, visual or audio-visual stimulus that is received by the trainee when a predefined goal is succeeded. The goal is defined by the trainer and it is to increase or decrease one or more EEG rhythms according to the person’s disorder-problem. In other words, the trainer after detecting who and where EEG rhythms seem to be abnormal depending on person’s age, sets a threshold, below or above that threshold, the feedback is given.

In practice, the trainer places three or more electrodes on trainee’s scalp in order to record brain’s activity. A specific brain area is implicated depending on person’s disorder-problem where EEG rhythms seem to be abnormal. After the first evaluation, the trainer plans the training. Firstly, the trainer observes brain’s activity during both eyes open and eyes closed conditions. Thus, he/she could detect whether the amplitude of EEG rhythms is larger or smaller respectively based on trainee’s age. Subsequently, he/she sets a threshold below or above that limit the trainee is being rewarded. The feedback could be auditory (sound, music), visual (puzzle) or audio-visual (game, video).

Neurofeedback has multiple applications. Several of them are the following:

− Anxiety (Hammond, 2005)
− Depression (Putman, 2002)
− Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Peniston and Kulkosky, 1991)
− Sleep Disorders (Bell, 1979; Cortoos et al., 2010)
− Addiction (Saxby and Peniston, 1995; Masterpasqua and Healey, 2003; Scott et al.,2005; Sokhadze et al., 2008)
− Learning Disabilities ( Fernández et al., 2003)
− ADHD (Fuchs et al., 2003; Fox et al., 2005; Monastra et al., 2005; Lofthouse et al.,2012)
− Autistic Spectrum Disorders (Coben et al.,2010)
− Epilepsy (Sterman et al., 1974; Kotchoubey et al., 2001)
− Strengthening of cognitive functions such as memory, concentration, attention (Kaiser and Othmer, 2000; Egner and Gruzelier, 2001; Vernon et al.,2003)
− Peak performance training for professionals and athletes (Gruzelier, 2009, 2014a, 2014b, 2014c)

The success of neurofeedback is based on multiple factors:

1) Neurofeedback is based on brain plasticity, its ability to change both functionally and structurally.

2) It constitutes a non-intrusive and non-pharmacological training method.

3) Neurofeedback is a safe alternative training technique, since it uses electrodes just to record the brain’s activity.

4) Neurofeedback is a cost-effective solution in a long-run, since a limited number of sessions could be sufficient in order to improve or even optimize the individual’s functionality.

References

Demos JN (2005) Getting Started with Neurofeedback. W.W. Norton & Co. Available at: http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=citeulike09-20&path=AS...

Hammond DC (2011) What is Neurofeedback: An Update. J Neurother 15:305–336 Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10874208.2011.623090 [Accessed November 25, 2014].