Neurofeedback therapy, also known as EEG (Electroencephalogram) biofeedback or neurotherapy, is a non-invasive therapeutic technique that aims to help individuals gain better regulation over their brain activity. It has been steadily growing in popularity as a promising approach to addressing various neurological and psychological conditions.
At its core, neurofeedback therapy involves monitoring a person's brainwave patterns in real time and providing them with immediate feedback. This feedback is typically delivered through visual or auditory cues, such as a TV show or sound, which change in response to the individual's brain activity. The goal is to teach the brain to regulate its functioning, helping individuals achieve more desirable brainwave patterns associated with improved mental health and cognitive performance.
Neurofeedback therapy has gained traction for its potential to improve a wide range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, it has been used to enhance cognitive functioning, optimize peak performance in athletes and professionals, and aid in stress management.
One key reason for its growing popularity is its non-invasive nature, as it does not involve medication or invasive procedures. Many individuals prefer neurofeedback therapy as an alternative or complement to traditional treatments, especially when they seek drug-free options or wish to minimize side effects.
Advancements in technology have also contributed to the increased accessibility and effectiveness of neurofeedback therapy. Portable EEG devices and software applications allow for at-home or remote sessions, making it more convenient for individuals to incorporate neurofeedback into their treatment plans.
In this blog, we will be sharing a client’s experience and insights from their Neurofeedback sessions, and the anonymous client has given their approval to talk about their qEEG review and session progress.
A neurofeedback session involves the use of specialized equipment and sensors to monitor and provide feedback on an individual's brainwave activity. Here's a detailed setup of a typical neurofeedback session, including the equipment and sensors used:
EEG Equipment: The core of a neurofeedback session is the electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment. It typically consists of:
Electrodes: Electrodes are sensors placed on the scalp to detect electrical signals generated by the brain. These electrodes are usually small, flat metal discs or sensors that are attached to specific locations on the head using conductive gel or paste.
Amplifier: The EEG signals detected by the electrodes are extremely small, so they need to be amplified. An EEG amplifier amplifies these signals for processing and analysis.
Computer: The EEG data is sent to a computer for real-time processing, analysis, and presentation of feedback to the client and therapist.
Software: Neurofeedback software is used to process and display the EEG data. This software provides various feedback mechanisms, such as visual or auditory cues, which allow the individual to observe and interact with their own brainwave activity.
Feedback Display: The feedback display is integral to the session setup. It can take various forms, including:
Visual Feedback: This might involve a computer screen displaying graphics, videos, or games that change in response to the client's brainwave activity. For example, the size of the screen of a visual display might increase or decrease based on certain brainwave patterns.
Auditory Feedback: In some cases, the client might listen to music or tones that are modulated by their brainwave activity. Changes in the music's tempo, volume, or pitch can serve as feedback.
Recording and Analysis: The EEG data is continuously recorded during the session and analyzed in real-time by the software. The therapist monitors the data and adjusts the neurofeedback parameters based on the individual's progress and treatment goals.
Client Comfort: Ensuring the client's comfort is essential. They are typically seated in a comfortable chair during the session. Efforts are made to create a calming and relaxing environment within the session room.
Progress is tracked over time through repeated sessions, and adjustments to the neurofeedback protocol are made as needed to address specific symptoms or achieve desired outcomes.
Role of NFB technician
The role of a neurofeedback provider is crucial in ensuring the safe and effective implementation of neurofeedback therapy. Neurofeedback technicians play a significant role in facilitating sessions and supporting both clients and clinicians. Here are the key responsibilities and roles of a neurofeedback technician:
Client Preparation: Technicians prepare clients for neurofeedback sessions by explaining the procedure, addressing any questions or concerns, and ensuring the client feels comfortable and informed.
Sensor Placement: They attach and properly position the EEG electrodes or sensors on the client's scalp. This requires precision to ensure accurate data collection.
Session Monitoring: During the neurofeedback session, technicians continuously monitor the EEG data and the client's comfort. They are responsible for ensuring the client is relaxed and not experiencing any discomfort.
Training Adjustment: Under the guidance of the supervising clinician, technicians may adjust the neurofeedback parameters based on the client's progress and needs. This could involve modifying the feedback threshold, changing the feedback modality (visual, auditory, or tactile), or altering the neurofeedback protocol.
qEEG review and findings
This section will provide a detailed description of a client’s experience with their NFB training. An anonymous client has given consent to using their qEEG and session progress.
The client reported symptoms of anxiety, restless sleep, and always feeling on edge. The client had been taking anti-anxiety medication but did not find it effective at managing their symptoms. After a consultation, we recommended NFB to the client to help them with their concerns.
The EEG was recorded continuously in the “awake” state for 12 minutes with the eyes closed “EC” and 12 minutes with the eyes open “EO”. Two different recordings were done because different networks in the brain became active based on eyes open or eyes closed. The absolute and normalized spectral analysis was computed for each task. The client's data was compared to their own age group from the Neuroguide Database. The output is displayed in tables and topographical maps.
Maps on the left are the initial EEG, and Maps on the right are the second EEG after 10 sessions.
Finding for initial qEEG:
The initial qEEG indicates most notable a 2 and 2.5 standard deviation above the norm in Beta and High Beta. This can be observed globally (all over the brain) but most significantly near the dorsal regions (top of the brain.) The second row, relative power metrics, measures the distribution of the brain resources, and it indicates an anterior (front of the head) deficit of Theta and Alpha and an excess of Beta and High Beta that are most significant near the dorsal region. Hypocoherence is indicated for the slower frequencies, meaning too little information is transferred across different regions of the brain. Hypercoherence is most significant for High Beta globally, meaning too much information is transferred across different regions of the brain. Low phase lag can be observed across all frequencies.
Interpretation of initial qEEG:
Deficit of Theta in the anterior is correlated with problem-solving issues. The alpha deficit in the anterior-most commonly is associated with symptoms of anxiety, difficulty with feeling grounded, and some emotional regulation issues. The alpha deficit in the anterior-most common. Excess of Beta and High Beta is common in individuals who experience rumination, racing thoughts, difficulty slowing down, and finding limited enjoyment in daily activities. The low phase indicates a brain that is communicating quickly and has exceptional cognitive potential which could also be contributing to feelings of racing thoughts or difficulty with making decisions. These EEG signatures can also be consistent with difficulty engaging socially, feeling sad or blue more often, anxiety, low-stress management, and reduced awareness of emotional identification and expression of the self and of others.
Finding for second EEG:
The picture on the right shows the second qEEG after 10 NFB sessions. The excess of Beta and High Beta have shown significant improvement. The alpha deficit has shown slight improvement. Hypocoherence in the lower frequencies has almost completely resolved, and hypercoherence in the higher frequencies is completely resolved.
Client’s symptom report after second EEG:
Clients reported improved emotional awareness, reduced number of outbursts, better management of emotions, and significantly less anxiety, especially in social settings. The client also disclosed that their sleep quality has also improved as they do not wake up in the middle of the night anymore; where they had been waking up at least 3~4 times every night.
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive and safe therapeutic approach and offers a range of potential benefits for individuals seeking to enhance their mental well-being and cognitive functioning. Its individualized approach, tailored to specific needs and goals, often leads to long-lasting benefits, empowering individuals to take an active role in their mental health and overall quality of life.
If you are interested in learning more about Neurofeedback therapy, please reach out to Heritage Counseling at 214-363-2345. We offer Neurofeedback at our Dallas, Plano, and Austin offices, and our administrative team will be happy to help connect you with the right Neurofeedback technician.