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What to Expect When Doing Neurofeedback

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

Let’s start with the basics: normally, neurofeedback is done in specialized clinics and requires multiple clinical visits, in addition to the supervision of a specialist. Similar to physical training, it requires a lot of commitment, but it’s worth it. You can check out the science behind it here.

If you’re considering neurofeedback, or are already training but feel like you need a bit more information about the way this whole process works, you’ve come to the right place.

What happens before you begin training?

Just like with any type of training, there’s a need to measure your baseline, otherwise known as the starting point which you will progress from with every session.

When doing a serious physical fitness program, for example, you measure a variety of parameters, including your BMI (body mass index), weight, blood pressure, waist circumference, in addition to other things. The first measurement is called the baseline, and the same parameters will be measured again periodically as an indicator of your progress.

Pretty simple, right? So how does this translate when doing a mental fitness program like neurofeedback? To answer that, we need to understand the difference between subjective and objective measures.

Subjective measures can be affected by personal opinions or biases, like a behavioral questionnaire. Although behavioral questionnaires have been used for decades by professionals to assess the severity of a certain brain disorder, they are known for being biased and not entirely accurate.

Objective measures, on the other hand, are measurements that cannot be affected by personal biases. For example, one’s reflex time, when measured accurately, is an objective measure.

Compared to physical fitness, subjective measures are used more frequently when doing a mental fitness program due to the complexity of accurately measuring brain performance.

When it comes to neurofeedback, a lot of clinics use a combination of the following tools to establish your baseline and be able to devise a personalized protocol for your training:

  • Standard behavioral questionnaires (like DSM IV, PHQ-9, etc.) to quantify the severity of your symptoms.

  • Continuous performance task (CPT) to measure your attention, impulsivity, and inhibition. Think of this as a not-very-engaging computer game that asks you to push a button whenever a specific image shows up on the screen and goes on for a prolon