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Neurofeedback- An Evidence-Based Approach to Mental Health
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Neurofeedback- An Evidence-Based Scientific Approach to Mental Health

neurofeedback cranium outline with colored areas of brain

Neurofeedback- An Evidence-Based Scientific Approach to Mental Health

neurofeedback cranium outline with colored areas of brainNeurofeedback is a non-invasive, evidence- based psychotherapy that allows patients to train their own brains to improve various conditions. Evidence- based psychotherapy or medicine is defined by the NIH (National Institute of Health) as follows:

“Evidence based medicine (EBM) is the conscientious, explicit, judicious and reasonable use of modern, best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. EBM integrates clinical experience and patient values with the best available research information.” (1)

Neurofeedback uses qEEG technology (brain mapping) to measure a patient’s brain waves in different areas of the brain, and then engages them in dynamic brain training to normalize these levels. As levels of brainwaves (alpha, beta, delta, etc) become balanced, improvements in function are noted in corresponding areas of the brain or body .

Ongoing research with neurofeedback on individual neurological disorders such as ADD or traumatic brain injury (TBI) has helped specialists identify with great accuracy patterns of brain dysfunction, and researchers have used this much larger pool of data to develop specific neurofeedback protocols to treat each individual neurological condition.

During a neurofeedback session, patients play simple games that allow them to track changes in their own brain wave patterns through visual feedback. Using this newly learned skill, neurofeedback patients can learn to adjust brain wave patterns to optimal levels.

It is a skill the patient learns intuitively through trial and error, using the visual feedback as a guide. As patients improve their ability to self- regulate,  neurological disorders can be corrected or at least greatly improved.

An EEG readout used for neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is an Evidence- Based Therapy

Neurofeedback has received a lot of attention recently due in part to an increase in the volume of scientific studies in the last few years. We have also seen a rise in the reporting of neurological disorders, depression, ADD, and chronic anxiety, all brain-based disorders. Soldiers returning from war zones with conditions like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury) have increased the case load of mental health care workers and made them look for more efficient treatments. Neurofeedback is coming up a lot as a topic of discussion and study.

Many rigorous studies have been competed with neurofeedback, so popular media is stepping forward into now safer territory. Mainstream publications like Time magazineNewsweek, and Forbes have started publishing more articles on neurofeedback. Even mainstream psychiatrists and psychotherapists are becoming interested in neurofeedback as a powerful brain- based psychotherapeutic intervention. We have the research done so far to thank for this.

Below you will find some recent studies on the efficacy of neurofeedback in the treatment of some common disorders.

ADD/ ADHD

Neurofeedback for Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder- A Review of Current Evidence

EEG spectral analysis of attention in ADHD: implications for neurofeedback training?

       Neurofeedback is Shown to Have Sustained Effects on ADHD

       Study clarifies the benefits of neurofeedback for children with ADHD

Cognitive Impairment/ Dementia

EEG neurofeedback: a brief overview and an example of peak alpha frequency training for cognitive enhancement in the elderly 

Neurofeedback training improves attention and working memory performance

Increasing Individual Upper Alpha Power by Neurofeedback Improves Cognitive Performance in Human Subjects

Stroke recovery

Specific effects of EEG based neurofeedback training on memory functions in post-stroke victims

Upper Alpha Based Neurofeedback Training in Chronic Stroke: Brain Plasticity Processes and Cognitive Effects

Effect of Neurofeedback and Electromyographic-Biofeedback Therapy on Improving Hand Function in Stroke Patients

Performance Enhancement

A Review of Neurofeedback Training for Improving Sport Performance From the Perspective of User Experience

Validating the efficacy of neurofeedback for optimising performance

Golf Performance Enhancement and Real-Life Neurofeedback Training Using Personalized Event-Locked EEG Profiles

Neurofeedback shows great promise as an evidence based scientific approach to psychiatry. In order to further its legitimacy in the medical world, it also needs to be studied more. Funding has been a problem in the past- out hope is this non invasive therapy with no known side effects will receive the attention from the mental health community and the general population that it deserves.

 

(1) Evidence Based Medicine – New Approaches and Challenges. Izet Masic, Milan Miokovic, Belma Muhamedagic. Acta Inform Med. 2008; 16(4): 219–225. Published online 2008 Dec. doi: 10.5455/aim.2008.16.219-225. PMCID: PMC3789163

Updated April 2021

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