There are several kinds of neurofeedback. The form I have been trained in is ILF HD neurofeedback, which means “infra-low, high-definition” neurofeedback. This method is the most mature form of neurofeedback and has 30 years of clinical support for effectiveness.
What happens with this kind of neurofeedback is this: 4 or 5 sensors are placed on the scalp, which read the electrical activity of the brain at those locations. It is important to understand that no electricity is being put into the brain. It is completely non-invasive. The sensors are only sensing the electrical activity that is occurring. They listen for brain waves, which are then amplified and fed into a computer. From all this electrical activity, very sophisticated software pulls out a small slice of this information of our choosing. This small piece of the total activity is embedded in both a pleasant video and music. People typically find this a very enjoyable experience. This is the feedback. Because you are watching and hearing this, your brain gets to see what it is doing. It is like holding a mirror up to your brain, and the brain is very interested in what it is doing. If it does not like what it sees itself doing, it will change. With these changes comes improved functioning.
With this particular method, what we are targeting are the regulatory centers of the brain. We know that the low frequency waves of the brain are involved in regulating the communication between various areas of the brain. If the speed of the communication is not right, the brain will not be operating in an optimal way, and the person would experience impaired function of some sort. These slow waves act like the conductor of an orchestra, who regulates the timing of the players, making sure they are all playing in good time. This is critical because without the conductor, the musicians would not be playing exactly together and the music would be very unpleasant to listen to. But with good timing, with a good conductor, the music is wonderful.
The same kind of thing happens within the brain. The slow waves are the time keepers for the rest of the brain. If the slow wave activity is not good, then communication within the brain will be too fast or too slow, and the brain will not work efficiently. Information will arrive a little too late or a little too early, and this creates problems.
Neurofeedback allows your brain to see how the slow waves are operating, and if it senses that they are not good, it will correct them. With this correction, the communication between the various parts of the brain will now be precise and good. This translates to improved functioning of the person.
Many studies have shown that the brain is fully capable of changing itself. It is very plastic and with every new experience you have, it changes. Neurofeedback capitalizes on the fact that the brain can change the way it operates. Neurofeedback helps guide the brain to make changes that improve functioning. Thirty years of clinical success have consistently proven this to be true.