Neurofeedback / EEG Biofeedback

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback, also known as ‘brain biofeedback’ or ‘EEG biofeedback’, is a therapy that is non-invasive and gentle, yet can have profound results. Simply put, it is a mirror, or feedback, for your brain. Our brain develops and changes over time based on personal experience. This is why it’s important to give our children as many positive and enriching experiences as we can. The broader their experiences and education, the broader their thinking can be later in life. If children train and focus in one area, they become adept and comfortable in that area. However the brain gets comfortable and stuck in thinking and feeling okay in just one way. How do we change this? There are numerous methods, such as psychotherapy, or Cognitive/Behavioral therapy or meditation. Neurofeedback is yet another way.

How does Neurofeedback work?

Electrical sensors are placed on a patients head and ears. These are much like the sensors one gets on their chest when getting an EKG. The sensors pick up the electrical activity of the brain and show it on a computer screen. In addition, during a session with Dr. Litov, you will be listening to music and viewing images on a screen. Different brain waves (see below) show different intensities depending upon the moment and relative activity of the person. For instance, we know that “delta” waves are high during sleep and therefore should not be high during waking hours. A brain gets feedback when it is in a rut, or stuck, and it wakes up and responds differently. By the brain “seeing” what is going on, it can then respond, rather than react. This is often referred to as “neuroplasiticity” – the ability of the brain to add or remove connections through new experiences.

We assist the brain in doing this by reading the electrical impulses of the brain, then creating pauses (or skips) in the music being heard. The pauses allow the brain to wake up on a subconscious level and choose a different pattern. This allows the energy that is stuck in a rut to be released to allow the brain to learn or respond differently….more optimally. The goal of neurofeedback is the same. This is also why neurofeedback is being used for peak performance enhancement by athletes. It is also used by some who are looking for cognitive, spiritual and emotional growth.

Brain waves are the visual representation of the electrical activity of the brain (EEG). Brainwaves are distinguished by their frequency (cycles per second) and amplitude (power). Brain waves generate various brain states for accomplishing any task from sleeping to intense concentration. Below are typical descriptions of some brain waves and states associated with those brain waves.

  • Delta (0-4 Hz) is associated with detached awareness, healing, and sleep.
  • Theta (4-7 Hz) is associated with meditation, intuition and memory.
  • Alpha (7-12Hz) is associated with relaxation, visualization, and creativity.
  • Beta (12-30 Hz) is associated with alertness, concentration, and cognition.

What conditions can Neurofeedback help?

Neurofeedback was originally used for seizure disorders and then expanded as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) to improve attention, focus and concentration. As the field has grown, it is being used for a growing list of conditions that affect both children and adults.

The following is a partial list of conditions neurofeedback has been shown to effectively treat:

  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Asperger’s/Spectrum
  • Spectrum Disorder
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Chronic Pain
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Learning Disabilities
  • OCD- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Disorders
  • PTSD-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Social Anxiety
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Tics
  • Trauma
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries

Dr. Litov’s philosophy of practice for Neurofeedback:

It is important to remember neurofeedback is not meant as a substitute for medication or psychotherapy or other valuable treatments, but as an adjunctive therapy.

I use neurofeedback in my practice as an adjunct therapy for some patients. Sometimes people come in with a specific interest in neurofeedback, but more often, neurofeedback becomes a natural choice for treatment. I do not use neurofeedback as a stand alone therapy. As is consistent with my philosophy of healthcare, I believe in a “whole person” approach to healthcare. Brain care is only one area. This is why I use a whole systems form of neurofeedback known as Neuroptimal. I also believe that our mind/brain affects our body and spirit so there is an interconnectedness of this treatment with our health mind, body and spirit.

More reading on neurofeedback: