What Does Science Say About Neurofeedback?
Updated: Jul 6
Neurofeedback is a powerful non-invasive strategy to alter brain function, alleviate certain psychological symptoms, and enhance cognitive performance. It has been around for more than 50 years, with hundreds of neurofeedback research studies supporting its efficacy.
Many mental health professionals use it as a stand-alone therapy and as a complementary approach to counseling or medication as a way to provide comprehensive care. According to neurofeedback studies, due to its usability advantages, anyone can benefit from it, including clients with severe symptoms and resistance to other treatments.
We've done the work and looked over hundreds of these neurofeedback studies for you, categorizing them based on different brain use cases including:
One of the main challenges of addictive disorders is regulating temptation and cravings for substances in individuals. Neurofeedback research studies have shown that neurofeedback decreases cravings and improves general mental health.
Specifically, EEG neurofeedback demonstrated positive outcomes in well-controlled intervention studies, good adherence, reduced addiction severity, and psychological benefits.
Certain EEG features have been linked to symptoms such as poor cognitive performance, atrophy of thalamus, hippocampus, and basal ganglia, as well as the formation of amyloid-beta plaques.
According to neurofeedback research studies, there's a demonstrated evidence of improving cognitive function and reducing cognitive decline for conditions such as stroke, and multiple sclerosis, with a focus on Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common form of dementia, and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a pre-dementia condition.
When there is an imbalance in brain wave activity, such as increased left frontal alpha (8-12 Hz), suggesting less activation and inability to regulate the subcortical regions that underlie depression, a physiological predisposition for depression occurs.
According to research, two neurofeedback protocols (alpha asymmetry protocol and enhancing beta and inhibiting theta or alpha at C3) can modify this suboptimal brain state.
For 'peak' or 'optimal' performance, EEG neurofeedback focuses on enhancing brain activity in healthy individuals to attain maximum brain functioning and memory improvement. Peak performance neurofeedback protocols are specifically designed to manage levels of arousal, attention, and motivation while maximizing autonomic control and the ability to shift states.
Specifically, neurofeedback may optimize cognitive processing and learning by altering the white matter and gray matter volumes and speeding up neural network conduction.
Anxiety is frequently associated with decreased alpha waves and increased beta waves. It also alters brain function by weakening the connections between the amygdala and the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.
According to studies, neurofeedback may improve the communication between the amygdala and the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. When the connection is established again, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex is better able to respond appropriately to possible threats, which reduces the impulsive, hyperactive behaviors commonly linked to anxiety. Read our comprehensive summary of neurofeedback for anxiety research
In those with PTSD, the regions of the brain that detect danger are constantly on high alert, and even the smallest hint of a threat can set off an acute stress response. As a result, individuals may experience memory loss, lose control over their impulses, and run the danger of becoming stuck in a protracted state of intense emotional sensitivity.
With alpha-theta neurofeedback training, individuals can reach a state of deep relaxation, where memories can safely resurface and, as a result, be processed. This way, traumatic events may be safely re-experienced, and new associations fostered.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a neurobehavioral condition characterized by a persistent pattern of impulsivity and/or hyperactivity.
In certain studies, neurofeedback has been proven to be as effective as medication in addressing the symptoms of inattention and impulsivity. It may be used with other forms of therapy, such as medication or behavioral therapy.
In the series of articles linked above, apart from presenting scientific evidence of neurofeedback efficacy for different mental health issues, we also explained how this type of therapy could be utilized to alleviate certain symptoms and/or improve cognitive functioning.
A PDF containing the above neurofeedback research summaries and a categorized reference list is embedded here to provide the necessary information for readers to locate and retrieve any source that was cited in this article.
Feel free to view or download the research summaries from here.
If you can't see the slideshow, please use this link.