Brain Therapy Center Brain Injury Therapy



        Benefits of
        EEG Biofeedback / Neurofeedback

        By Harold L. Burke, Ph.D.


        EEG biofeedback (neurofeedback) treatment for ADHD, brain injury, behavioral disorders, stress, mood disorders, and anxiety 

        EEG biofeedback (also known as neurofeedback) is a cutting-edge technology that uses operant conditioning (reinforcement) to alter brain waves. It provides information to clients about their nervous systems so that they can self-regulate more effectively. This is accomplished by attaching electrodes to their scalps so that the electrochemical activity of their brains can be transformed into real-time information and fed back to them. The individual’s brain can then utilize this information to make appropriate changes that often improves brain functioning and relieves symptoms. As the client undergoes repeated sessions of this brain exercise, or brain training, the client achieves greater flexibility and stability.

        What about the logistics of treatment at the Brain Therapy Center?

        Before the actual training begins, Dr. Burke (clinical neuropsychologist and Director of the Brain Therapy Center) will interview the client, and some testing may be performed or recommended. This may include a brain map (i.e., quantitative EEG). Actual training sessions last 60 minutes each and are conducted from one to five times per week. Some improvement is generally seen within ten sessions, but 40 sessions are typically required. Once learning is consolidated, the benefit appears to be permanent in most cases although some “booster” sessions may be required if stressors or significant life events disrupt normal functioning.

        How is EEG biofeedback related to other forms of biofeedback?

        EEG biofeedback is one specific type of the more general treatment modality known as “biofeedback” which has been utilized primarily for relaxation and conditions related to stress and to muscle impairments. All forms of biofeedback “feed back” information to an individual about small changes in her/his biological processes. His/Her physiological systems can then use this information to make adjustments. The individual is usually not consciously aware of such changes, which is why sophisticated equipment is necessary to monitor and display the information. For example, it has been found that paralyzed patients can recover motor function if they can be given information about the movement of their individual muscle fibers so that they can gradually use more and more fibers for movement of entire limbs. Similarly, individuals can increase the blood circulation in their limbs or decrease systemic blood pressure if information is fed back to them.

        For what conditions can EEG biofeedback be used?

        EEG biofeedback is used for many conditions and disabilities in which the brain is not working as well as it might. These include Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), cognitive impairments caused by acquired brain injuries, severe conduct problems, specific learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorders, stress-related syndromes, mood disorders (e.g. depressive and bipolar disorders), anxiety disorders, medically-uncontrolled seizures, cerebral palsy, and related issues (e.g., sleep problems, chronic pain). It also may be used to enhance peak performance (both athletic and artistic).

        Is there research support of the efficacy of EEG biofeedback?

        EEG biofeedback has been utilized for more than 30 years with the first published study of its efficacy appearing in 1970 by Dr. Barry Sterman, a psychologist at the Neuropsychiatric Institute of UCLA. In that study and in subsequent studies, neurofeedback has been shown to be effective in treating seizure disorders as well as such disorders as ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

        The January 2000 issue of Clinical EEG (Vol. 31, No.1), which is the official journal of the EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society, presents review articles demonstrating the efficacy of EEG Biofeedback for traumatic brain injury (TBI), ADHD, anxiety disorders, and depression. In the editorial at the beginning of this volume, which is dedicated entirely to EEG biofeedback, Dr. Frank Duffy, the Associate Editor for Neurology and Director of the Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratory and Developmental Neurophysiology Laboratory at Children’s Hospital, Boston, states, “The literature, which lacks any negative study of substance, suggests that EBT (EEG biofeedback therapy) should play a major therapeutic role in many difficult areas. In my opinion, if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy, it would be universally accepted and widely used.”

        Efficacy studies continue to be published with improved methodological designs, and many well-educated and well-trained clinicians have found this modality to be an effective adjunct to the multi-disciplinary treatment of patients with deficits in attention and other cognitive functions.


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