But what is neurofeedback?
In short, neurofeedback therapy is a non-invasive and drug-free treatment that teaches patients how to “shift” their brains into a functioning pattern that’s healthier and more stable.
This act of self-regulation helps patients regain control over their lives and can lead to long-term symptom improvement without the unwanted and unpleasant side effects associated with prescription medications.
For over forty years, the Drake Institute has leveraged neurofeedback training to help thousands of patients learn self-correction techniques that improve focus and help them reach their cognitive potential.
For more information regarding our neurofeedback treatment protocols, please give us a call at 800-700-4233 for a free consultation.
Neurofeedback, also called EEG-Biofeedback, falls under the broader umbrella of biofeedback.
Biofeedback monitors and measures certain bodily processes, like hand temperature, muscle tension, and heart rate, whereas neurofeedback focuses on the brain.
Treatment sessions focus on teaching patients how their brains work and how they can actually alter their own brainwave patterns in order to achieve optimal functioning or reduce symptoms.
Neurofeedback allows patients to take a more active role in determining the way that their brain functions, helping them to generate the proper brainwaves at the right time, which can result in the reduction of a variety of negative symptoms.
Once neurofeedback treatment ends, patients can continue to practice the techniques and skills they developed during the therapy to self-generate long-term improvements, which is what makes neurofeedback good for treating various disorders over the long run.
As mentioned, neurofeedback works by helping patients regulate their brain activity, which is measured as brainwaves.
There are four primary types of brainwaves that serve different purposes in the brain. While they are all necessary for proper functioning, disruptions can occur when one brainwave becomes dominant at an inopportune time, resulting in poor cognitive functioning, stress, anxiety, and more.
Below is a breakdown of the 4 primary types of brainwaves and when they occur:
Beta waves are the highest (i.e., fastest) frequency waves. They occur when the brain is actively engaged in a task, like taking an exam, giving a presentation, solving a problem, or having an interesting conversation. You’ll feel alert and “at the ready” when these waves are dominant.
These are the next fastest frequency brainwaves. They are present when the brain is in a more relaxed state and can make you feel satisfied or at ease. When you close your eyes to relax or meditate, your brain produces more alpha brainwaves.
Slower than alpha waves, theta brainwaves are present when we are sleepy or daydreaming. These waves help us get ready to “shut down” at the end of a long day. Still, they can also disrupt our thought patterns if they occur at the wrong time – like when you’re studying for a test or taking an online class. Excess theta waves are frequently the cause of poor focus and attention, as is often the case with individuals with ADD/ADHD.
The slowest frequency brainwave, delta waves, become predominant primarily when we are in a state of deep, dreamless sleep.
Brains that produce too many slow-frequency waves and not enough high-frequency waves (or vice versa) won’t function at an optimal level.
If your brain is stuck in an unhealthy functioning pattern, you may feel an overwhelming sense of fatigue or like you’re living in a fog or feel agitation or restlessness.
Moreover, it may become difficult to focus on even the most trivial and mundane tasks, which can seriously reduce your quality of life.
During neurofeedback training, sensors are placed on the scalp to monitor and record the patient’s brainwaves.
These findings are then compared to what’s typically expected for same-age individuals, which allows us to identify the regions and the types of dysregulation that may be causing the patient’s symptoms.
Our medical director then creates a neurofeedback training program that’s custom-tailored to the patient’s individual needs.
This program displays the patient’s brainwaves as an animation on a screen, and with the help of experienced staff, patients learn how to alter and modify their brainwaves into a healthier functioning pattern required for focus, organization, and follow-through.
Neurofeedback therapy is used to treat a variety of disorders that have their roots in abnormal functioning in the brain.
Here’s what neurofeedback is good for treating.
When a person has ADD or ADHD, concentration and focus are a challenge.
This is because the regions of the brain responsible for focus are experiencing some level of dysregulation, making tasks like studying for an exam or paying attention in class much more difficult.
Neurofeedback helps patients self-regulate their brainwave patterns, which in turn reduces, and in some cases, eliminates the negative symptoms associated with ADD and ADHD.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder resulting in repetitive behaviors and impaired communication and socialization, among other symptoms.
There is no cure for autism, but neurofeedback therapy has proven to help patients improve their level of functioning and teach them to self-regulate and adapt more effectively to new situations.
When a person is depressed, there is dysregulation in the brain which can cause a sort of misinterpretation of reality.
As a result, patients can become transfixed on what’s wrong in their lives and get caught in negative thought loops.
Neurofeedback shows patients how to work through these ruminations, not just by thinking “happy thoughts,” but by directly modifying the brainwaves to a more desirable functional pattern and improving connections that are problematic.
Stress is a normal part of life. In fact, most of us experience some level of stress every day; however, when stress increases and begins to dominate your daily life, you may be suffering from a stress disorder.
At the Drake Institute, patients suffering from stress disorders learn how to enter a deep state of relaxation that’s very difficult to achieve on their own.
With the help of neurofeedback training, patients receive real-time and ongoing feedback as they relax, helping them understand how their brain is shifting into a calmer state and learn to control their own process.
Often, the patient is completely relearning what “relaxed” feels like since their brain has been in a state of stress for an extended period.
Once they learn what it feels like and how to achieve it, the patient can continue to practice this ability long after treatment has ended.
Like stress disorders, anxiety is a widespread condition that millions of people deal with. It can result in overwhelming fear, insomnia, appetite changes, excessive sweating, and more.
While anxiety can actually be adaptive in small amounts, anxiety disorders can reach a level of severity that can become debilitating.
Neurofeedback can treat anxiety exceptionally well in order to reduce or even eliminate the symptoms. During neurofeedback treatment for anxiety, patients receive immediate feedback on what is happening in their brain in moments of anxiety.
Training sessions will help them recognize and reduce anxiety, subsequently improving their quality of life.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect anyone who has experienced a traumatic event that the brain interprets as a persistent threat.
Any reminders of this event can trigger anxiety, nightmares, and impulsive behavior. Mood stabilizers are a common medication for treating PTSD, along with cognitive-behavioral therapy.
By utilizing the mind-body connection, neurofeedback offers patients a reliable way to improve their brain’s ability to accurately interpret reality and remain appropriately calm.
The inability to fall and stay asleep – insomnia – is a debilitating disorder that can affect concentration, memory, and overall quality of life.
Typical treatments usually include medication, change of diet, and reducing alcohol intake, but none of these are a permanent cure for the disorder.
The Drake Institute offers customized treatment for patients suffering from insomnia that increases relaxation, reduces tension, and regulates more normal neural activity for sleep, allowing them to again experience a good night’s sleep.
Panic attacks generally result from severe and untreated, or undertreated anxiety disorders, and they can be one of the most traumatic experiences a person can go through.
Neurofeedback provides patients with a real-time look at how their brain responds to stressors.
Neurofeedback training enables a patient to relax and to stop their brain from triggering the “fight or flight” response that causes a panic attack. This allows patients to regain control of their mind-body interaction and improve their quality of life.
Epilepsy, a seizure disorder, was one of the first disorders treated with neurofeedback.
The treatment can make the brain more resistant to seizures, especially those that aren’t successfully treated with medication.
Furthermore, patients receiving treatment can also experience better memory, processing speed, and concentration.
When a person suffers an injury to the brain, their brainwaves can be thrown off, resulting in a disruption of the connections in the brain, as well as creating an imbalance in the brainwaves causing too many or not enough high or low-frequency waves.
When the ratio is off, the person can experience changes in personality and mood, difficulty concentrating, poor impulse control, and more.
Neurofeedback takes advantage of the brain’s natural neuroplasticity and helps patients heal the disrupted connections and dysregulation that is occurring in their brains.
As with the other disorders mentioned here, developmental delays can result from some abnormality or dysregulation in the brain.
If a child’s brain isn’t growing and adapting successfully, the child may experience learning difficulties, speech problems, behavioral issues, and more.
Neurofeedback training works with the child’s natural neuroplasticity to support positive neural conditioning.
Because young brains are naturally more “flexible”, neurofeedback is an exceptional treatment for producing long-term results in children.
Many of the issues listed above are also commonly treated with medications or other invasive procedures.
However, drugs can be unpredictable or even dangerous for some individuals. Sometimes they aren’t effective at dealing with the condition; other times, side effects can be worse than the disorder itself.
Additionally, drug-based treatments typically only provide temporary relief for these conditions, and once the patient discontinues the medication, the problems will often return.
Not only can neurofeedback be used to treat many of the same disorders that we use drugs for, but it is much safer and can produce a long-term benefit.
Neurofeedback treatment is more like a training session that teaches patients how to develop more direct control over their brain's functioning patterns.
Neurofeedback therapy also physically strengthens the brain’s synaptic connections to reinforce better mental health.
The Drake Institute has successfully treated thousands of patients with neurofeedback, and extensive research supports its use as a safe and effective alternative to drug-based interventions.
What makes neurofeedback so safe? It doesn’t require medications (which come with their own side effects), and it’s entirely non-invasive, self-generated, and controlled by the patient, which significantly reduces the likelihood of unwanted side effects.
It is important to note that to make neurofeedback as safe as possible, these types of procedures should be overseen by an experienced and appropriately licensed clinician.
For the last 40 years, the Drake Institute has been a pioneer in neurofeedback therapy.
We’ve helped thousands of patients achieve symptom relief from anxiety, stress, depression, ADD, autism, and more.
If you are ready to start on a path to better mental and physical health or would just like to know more about what can be treated with neurofeedback, fill out our consultation form or give us a call today at 800-700-4233 for a free consultation to see if neurofeedback therapy is right for you.
If you or a family member need help, please fill out our confidential online form
Interview with Dr. David Velkoff
Interview with Dr. David Velkoff
Spanish News Feature
“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”