Neurofeedback is a specialized form of biofeedback using an electroencephalogram (EEG) and a computerized training protocol that engages your brain. Sensors are placed on your scalp and then connected to sensitive electronics and computer software that pick up the electrical signals that your brain is producing. No electricity is sent into your brain, the sensors are just “listening” to what is already going on.
As the EEG is being processed, it connects to a computer video game that rewards you when you are staying in the target frequencies being trained. This is done virtually instantaneously so you get real-time feedback about what your brain is doing at any given moment. Your brain learns how to stay in the target frequencies more often and as a result the brain learns how to regulate itself and stay on track. Improvements in attention, sleep, anxiety and depression, as well as behavior and overall functioning are possible.
The sensors are listening to the rhythms of your brainwaves. The primary bandwidths are:
You need each of these frequencies of electrical activity in your brain at various times, but they need to be regulated, balanced, and in rhythm. Finding the right balance in brainwave activity is like a conductor who keeps each section of the orchestra in time and harmony with each other.
In this analogy, every instrument has its own music to make, but it is also connected to the whole. When the conductor keeps all the musicians in tempo, each playing their own part, the sound is glorious. But when various sections of musicians break off and play at their own pace, not listening or connecting with the whole, it is jarring and dissonant. This is not a concert most people would want to attend twice. So too with the brain!
Dysregulation in electrical activity has been indicated in conditions such as: ADD/ADHD, panic attacks and anxiety, depression, insomnia, PTSD and trauma responses, head injuries and concussions, substance abuse, chronic pain including fibromyalgia, stroke, and others. Neurofeedback targets the brain structure which can at times become dysregulated and helps the brain learn to regulate itself.
Neurofeedback can also be used quite successfully to help optimize brain performance. This is called peak performance training. It can be used for athletes, musicians, artists, or anyone who would like to optimize their functioning.
While some individuals notice changes after the first session, it is more likely to require fifteen or more sessions before you will be aware of significant change. Because of that, we ask that you commit to at least 20 sessions if you are considering Neurofeedback. The average number is between 30-40 sessions, but the more severe the dysregulation, the more training you may need.
Your brain needs to have enough training to permanently and independently maintain these gains, so ending treatment early can jeopardize that. Twenty sessions (about 10 weeks) seems like a long time, but if you started an exercise regimen, would you expect to create well-defined biceps in just two visits? Of course not. It takes time to build muscle. In a similar way, it also takes time to train your brainwaves. Most people find that they enjoy the process and how they are improving, and tend to stay longer than traditional talk-therapy-only clients which helps to solidify gains even more.
Typically Neurofeedback training is done twice a week. Sessions are about 45 minutes each which includes time to discuss symptoms and improvements, set up, and do the training. The actual amount of time for training will vary based on what is most effective for each client. Sessions may be held more frequently should a client be in crisis.
In most cases, insurance does not cover neurofeedback. Please check your benefits to see if your carrier will cover the services (QEEG – 95816, EEG Biofeedback/Neurofeedback Therapy – 90901).
Bloomington Neurofeedback does not bill insurance. We know that paying out of pocket is not easy. That is why each client is provided with a particular kind of invoice called a “superbill”. It contains all the information that your insurance company will need, including the aforementioned CPT codes. You can submit those to your insurance company for potential reimbursement. We can also help you provide more information, should your insurance company request it. We will work with you to help you get your out of network benefits.
The simple answer is – it works. The outcomes have repeatedly been shown to be 70-85% effective with a variety of conditions. The nervous system can be over-aroused, under-aroused, or have general instability. Neurofeedback addresses each of these unhealthy states and can lead to remarkable change.
There are no big lobbying groups for neurofeedback like there are for pharmaceuticals. And unlike medication that you must continue to take over and over, the great news is that once your brain learns to regulate itself, you no longer need neurofeedback.
Most likely your doctor is simply unaware of the abundance of neurofeedback research done in the last 20 years. For example, in 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics listed neurofeedback as being a treatment with “Level 1 – Best Support” for ADHD – meaning that neurofeedback had met the research rigor and efficacy requirements to be a top treatment approach for ADHD. Research/Resources