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Why Use Neurofeedback Therapy?

The Drake Institute of Behavioral Medicine, a medical clinic, is a major pioneer of neurofeedback treatment in clinical medicine, and has been successfully using neurofeedback to improve quality of life for patients with a variety of disorders since 1980.

Neurofeedback treatment is a non-invasive training process that produces long-term improvement without the side effects common to drug-based treatments. The Drake Institute has refined the use of this extraordinarily effective, non-invasive treatment for ADD/ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Insomnia and other stress-related disorders for over 35 years.

Completing the process of neurofeedback therapy for the above named disorders is like learning to balance on a bicycle. When learning to ride a bike, you rely on visual and sensory feedback to develop your sense of balance.

Before receiving neurofeedback, you are not aware of the way that your brain works; neurofeedback provides a view into how your brain functions, allowing you to self-correct non-optimal brain functioning and achieve self-regulating optimal function.

When using your brain, you normally don’t have access to any of this information, so you aren’t aware of the times that your brain misfires (losing focus, acting impulsively, emotionally overreacting, etc.). By taking part in neurofeedback, you will learn to spot misfires so that you can self-heal and learn to use your brain properly.

What is Neurofeedback (Biofeedback) Therapy?

During neurofeedback treatment, nothing is done to you – your brain is not stimulated, drugs are not administered, etc. – neurofeedback training only requires wearing a sensor on your head that records and displays your brain functioning on a computer screen.

Like a thermometer which doesn’t give you a fever, but only records your temperature, neurofeedback simply records how your brain is working (optimally or improperly), displaying that function to you so that you can make changes in the way that your brain operates.

In this way, neurofeedback training allows you to self-reinforce optimal brain functioning, retraining your brain to operate at optimal levels of efficiency. You can think of neurofeedback techniques as being like physical therapy for your brain; it’s a self-generated process that leads to long-term improvement because you are in complete control of the entire process.

Since you are in control of the neurofeedback process, you will be able to retrain your brain to function at optimal levels of efficiency and your self-generated work will lead to long-term improvement, healing the source of your problems rather than just masking negative systems.

Because the improvements resulting from neurofeedback therapy are built upon a self-generated, learned response, they become wired into your nervous system and are likely to last as long-term results, unlike the temporary effects resulting from drug-based treatments.

How Does Neurofeedback Work?

Your brain weighs about 2 pounds, yet it utilizes almost 50% of all of your body’s blood glucose. It utilizes all of this glucose to create electrochemical energy, or simply electricity, to enable your brain to carry out all of its functions, including learning and emotional regulation.

This electrical activity can be recorded in the form of brainwaves by placing passive non-invasive electrodes (sensors) on the head. Brainwaves occur at different frequencies, from the slow brainwaves, Delta and Theta to the fast brainwaves, Beta, as measured in cycles per second.

Slow brainwaves (Delta) reflect the brain is under-aroused or functioning at reduced capacity for mental efficiency. This occurs during sleep and daydreaming. When your brain is producing predominantly fast brainwaves (Beta), it is more fully aroused; you are alert, focused, and networks of neurons in the brain are engaged to fully process information.

The faster brainwaves (Beta) need to be dominant for controlling attention, behavior, emotions, and learning. If you are producing too much of the slow brainwaves (Delta or Theta) or too few of the fast brainwaves (Beta), then your brain will be operating at reduced capacity.

Neurofeedback training/treatment is simply brainwave biofeedback. With neurofeedback training, you can learn to improve and strengthen your brainwave patterns to the more dominant faster brainwaves essential for focus, organization, follow through, and basic learning functions.

At the beginning of your treatment process, we will first conduct a QEEG, which records brainwave patterns from all over your head to detect if any regions are malfunctioning. Next, we’ll place 1 or 2 electrodes (sensors) on your scalp over the abnormal area and record your brainwaves, displaying them on a computer screen in the form of a game.

Normally, we cannot accurately influence our brainwave patterns because they are beyond our level of awareness. But when you see your brainwaves on a computer screen in front of you, almost instantaneously as they occur, you will be able to influence them in a positive direction.

For example, one of our neurofeedback treatments converts your brainwaves into a computer game of a car driving down the highway. The moment you cause your brainwaves to shift to a faster, healthier frequency, the car begins to speed up on the computer screen and an auditory tone goes off. The auditory tone is triggered every half second you sustain this improved “response”.

Long-Term Results

As you learn to improve your performance, a new awareness emerges and you will become better able to control your brain functioning, almost like learning “the feeling of balance” on a bicycle.

Though the disorder may be biological or neurological in nature, you can retrain your brain to normal or improved functioning, decreasing or completely resolving negative symptoms.

Unlike temporary treatments, neurofeedback can lead to long-term improvement. What you learn in the clinic during treatment sessions you will be able to practice and integrate into everyday life situations, until it becomes your natural state.

Compared to Drug-Based Treaments

Drugs can be harmful and sometimes even dangerous, but they almost always provide only temporary improvement for conditions such as ADD/ADHD.

Compared to drugs, neurofeedback is incredibly safer, but it can also lead to long term improvement, because neurofeedback uses a learning process that strengthens and develops the synaptic connections in the brain.

As we mentioned earlier, neurofeedback therapy can be thought of as akin to learning to balance on your bicycle. Once you learn how to use your brain properly, you are highly unlikely to forget it.

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