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Neurofeedback Therapy Explained: How Does Neurofeedback Work?

Updated: Mar 20

  • Neurofeedback, based on EEG, is non-invasive brain training using visuals and sounds to regulate brainwave activity.

  • Neurofeedback works by placing sensors on your head to measure brainwave patterns, linked to different mental states. A tailored training plan is created based on brainwave measurements, guiding you through games or videos that respond to your brain's activity. With practice, you learn to produce desired brainwave patterns, resulting in real-life benefits like improved focus and relaxation.

  • In the past, neurofeedback was rare and required clinic visits. Now, technology enables therapist-guided sessions from home, eliminating the need for frequent travel and resource investment.

Neurofeedback has come a long way since its invention in the 1960s, with advancements in technology and research. However, the fundamental principle behind how it works has remained unchanged.

EEG-based neurofeedback, typically referred to as simply neurofeedback, is a non-invasive type of brain training that measures your brainwave activity and trains your brain using visual and auditory cues.

But what exactly does this mean? Let's break it down.

What happens during neurofeedback training?

Imagine your brain is like a musical instrument, and its different parts play different tunes. Neurofeedback is like a teacher helping you learn to play better melodies.

Here's how neurofeedback works:

  1. Listening to Your Brain: First, special sensors are placed on your head, like a headband with a wire. These sensors can "listen" to patterns of electrical activity in your brain, also referred to as brainwaves. Brainwaves are associated with your different levels of consciousness, including anxiety, alertness, sleep, or focus, and they can provide insights about your current mental state. Think of them as musical instruments: there are low-frequency brainwaves that are similar to sound waves created by the deep sound of a tuba and higher-frequency waves that are more like a subtle, high-pitched flute. When “played” together correctly, they create a coherent symphony. However, when they are not in tune, they can cause emotional and neurobehavioral health concerns.

  2. Getting a brain map and a tailored training plan: qEEG, is a method that measures your brainwaves, compares these measurements to normative values, and creates a visual topographic map. So just like the countries and continents are represented on a geographic map, with qEEG, areas of your brain are spatially defined, and their functionality is measured so that it can be compared to normative values. Based on this insight and your goals, your neurofeedback expert creates a customized brain training plan.

  3. Playing a Game: You get to play a special game, watch a movie, or stream a show while your brain activity is being measured. But the interesting part is that the game or movie is responding to your brainwave activity! So when your brain is doing something you want, like being calm and focused, the game or movie goes smoothly. And when your brainwave activity is dysregulated, the screen might dim, or the volume might lower.

  4. Training Your Brain: Just like learning to ride a bike, you practice to get better. As you play the game or watch the movie, you learn how to make your brain play the music you want – like being more relaxed or paying better attention.

  5. Getting Rewards: When your brain activity starts making "the good music," you earn rewards. These rewards could be that the player in your game is moving faster or the screen gets brighter. Your brain likes rewards, so it might start making more of the "good music" to get even more rewards.

  6. Real-Life Benefits: As you keep practicing, your brain gets better at playing the tunes you want. And you may notice that in real life, you can feel calmer, focus better, or even sleep well – depending on the kind of training you did.

So, in simple words, neurofeedback is like a fun brain training game that helps you learn to make your brain work in a way that makes you feel good and helps you do things better.

How to Do Neurofeedback?

In the past, neurofeedback was only available in specialized clinics, and, more often than not, those clinics offering neurofeedback were hard to come by. When you would find a clinic that offers neurofeedback in your area, you'd have to visit the doctor's office multiple times a week and invest even more resources to get the results you're after.

Luckily, technology has advanced, and you don't have to commute to the doctor's office for a session; nowadays, you can effectively do therapist-guided neurofeedback from the comfort of your home.

While wearing an EEG headband that measures your brain activity, you can train with the Myndlift app that's able to link to the headband through Bluetooth. The app delivers visual and auditory feedback via online videos or specialized games while your neurofeedback therapist monitors your progress remotely.

You can even do it from your car, just like Kirk Cousins, the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. In the fourth episode of the Netflix series Quarterback, you can see Kirk Cousins in his car streaming a show on his phone while the video reacts solely based on the activity coming from his brain.

But this technology is not limited to athletes only; it's on the cutting edge of mental health care, and it's more accessible and affordable than ever. It has the potential to help change how your brain functions and improve the quality of your life. One fun game session at a time!

Myndlift provides a personalized expert-guided brain training program that can help you elevate your wellbeing by improving your sleep quality, focus, calm, and self-control over mood. Take this 10-second quiz to check if you’re eligible to kick-start your journey for better brain health.


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