by Susan Denny
Are you wanting to help your child concentrate better before the next school year begins? Or, are you having trouble sleeping due to what I call “busy brain?” Maybe you know someone who is struggling with impulsive anger or irritability. These are all descriptors of behaviors that occur due to maladaptive brainwave patterns.
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive brain-wave training that has been used for more than 40 years to help people improve daily functioning and overcome debilitating struggles. Through neurofeedback, brain waves are measured using an electroencephalography (EEG), and you can watch your brain waves on a computer screen. It is possible, with practice, to change your brain waves. It sounds simple, but the brain is a complicated organ, which is why an experienced professional neurotherapist can help you get the best results.
What Are Brain Waves?
Brain waves are the electrical current that sends information telling your mind and body what to do and how to do it. Reading this article takes an amazing amount of collaboration between the brain waves to allow you to see the page, read, comprehend and notice the distractions going on while you read.
Brain waves are grouped according to the speed of each wave. They include Delta (0-3Hz), Theta (4-7Hz), Alpha (8-12Hz), Beta low (12-18Hz) and Beta high (22-36Hz). All brain waves are present all the time, and the amount (or power) of brain waves is measured in amplitudes. Once a neurotherapist determines the maladaptive brain-wave pattern causing the unwanted symptoms, the isolated pattern can be changed.
Changing Brain Waves
Changing brain waves involves giving your brain rewards for making changes. For example, a common brain-wave pattern that produces symptoms of ADHD includes excessive theta (4-7Hz). This excessive theta creates fogginess, and the person has trouble with concentration, distractibility and memory. The brain does not know that it could function more effectively by changing until we tell it to do so.
Neurofeedback retrains your brain through rewards. A common method is to play a video game; during the game, your brain is rewarded when it meets parameters set by the neurotherapist. For example, for a client with excessive theta, the video game character will eat pebbles and move successfully through a maze when the brain produces less theta amplitude. If the brain waves do not change, the game does not continue. Through practice, the brain changes to the new more effective and efficient brain-wave pattern. Since there is no benefit to the old pattern, the brain holds on to the new pattern, and the client is able to concentrate better.
“It sounds simple, but the brain is a complicated organ, which is why an experienced professional neurotherapist can help you get the best results.”
Brain-wave patterns can be associated with multiple symptoms and diagnoses. I often see clients diagnosed with ADHD who have a brain-wave pattern for anxiety. This is common because ADHD can cause forgetfulness, which causes anxiety. For example, “How am I going to pay attention during this work meeting?” Or, “How am I going to remember to bring home all my homework assignments?” It is often a relief for clients when they realize that there is something in the brain that isn’t allowing them to concentrate, and that there is something that can be done to help.
Neurofeedback is also used to treat symptoms associated with anxiety (including panic attacks, post traumatic syndrome, obsessivecompulsive), autism spectrum disorder, depression (major depression and bipolar), addictions, traumatic brain injuries, learning disorders, strokes, seizures, insomnia, menopause and premenstrual syndrome, chronic pain and more.
Susan Denny, is BCIA certified in neurofeedback (BCN). She currently runs The Neurofeedback Center as part of Integrative Counseling and Neurofeedback Solutions (iCNS) in San Antonio. She is passionate about helping people find stability in their lives. She is available for consultation to determine if neurofeedback could help you, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 210-627-3529. For more information, visit www.icnssa.com and theneurofeedbackcenter.com.