6 Myths About Neurofeedback Debunked
Updated: Feb 25, 2021
Neurofeedback is a foreign concept to the majority of people who hear about it. Despite the growing volume of evidence supporting its impact on focus and relaxation, it hasn't broken into the mainstream yet and as a result, there can be a few misconceptions out there, and we'll try to tackle them here.
Let's start with the basics: What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a type of brain training that uses electrodes (EEG) to measure brain activity in real-time and translate that into visual/auditory feedback that can help in re-training certain areas of the brain.
The way it's done is by hooking EEG wires/sensors on the scalp, and sitting down for 20-40 minutes in front of a computer game that reacts to your changing brain activity. Kind of like controlling a game with your brain, but not really.
Myth #1: Neurofeedback lets you control a game with your mind
While it is true that you are hooked to sensors that can measure your brain activity, it doesn't mean you've become a mind-controlling Jedi.
The game will react to the ups and downs of a specific set of brain frequencies that are associated with the function you'd like to train.
You could be training your frontal alpha which is associated with relaxation and the game will present rewards whenever that specific frequency is above a set threshold (for more about EEG brain frequencies click here), or alternatively, you could be down-training your hi-beta frequencies and that reward will be presented only when it's below the threshold.
This still doesn't mean total mind control. While you can influence the movement of these frequencies voluntarily, they are highly variable and cyclical and therefore, we recommend that you just relax during your training, and don't try too hard to influence what's happening.
Just let your brain learn at its own pace.
Myth #2: Neurofeedback helps after just one session
This couldn't be further than the truth.
The essence of neurofeedback is the conditioning mechanism. You get a visual/auditory reward whenever your brain patterns meet certain criteria, the same mechanism used when training your dog to sit on demand! Alright, it's a bit more complex than that since EEG tends to be affected by multiple factors, but you get the analogy and why you shouldn't see magic happen after only 1 session.
It takes practice and consistency to condition your brain to meet certain criteria and achieve certain outcomes. With neurofeedback, it's usually 12-40 sessions.
Myth #3: Neurofeedback sends signals to my brain
While there are some variant forms of neurofeedback that do send low-energy signals to the brain (called LENS neurofeedback), the majority of clinicians administer the traditional form, which only uses the EEG sensors on the scalp to measure brain activity, without interfering with it.
Myth #4: Neurofeedback can only help people with a clinical diagnosis
Well, a bit of brain training can help anyone looking to improve their performance, but the advantage of neurofeedback is that it can be personalized for each user separately (depending on their needs and current brain map) to target a specific set of brainwave frequencies that will help in reaching optimal performance.
Myth #5: Neurofeedback helps overcome any brain disorder
No. Not at all.
While over 800 research papers have shown that neurofeedback could help in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety, ADHD, and PTSD, this is still not enough to say that it can help with ANY brain disorder. Therefore, if you're considering starting neurofeedback, please make sure to read the research and consult with a professional to make sure it can help with what you're looking for.
Myth #6: Neurofeedback can only be done at a clinic
Thanks to Myndlift's technology, that is no longer true. We have partnered with hundreds of neurofeedback clinicians worldwide to help them provide at-home neurofeedback in the easiest way possible, thus making it accessible for many individuals who couldn't afford this training otherwise. Learn more about training with Myndlift here.