Chronic stress or trauma can cause the brain to be stuck using faster, stress-related brainwaves and is therefore unable to relax. For efficient brain functioning it is important that your brain is using the right brainwave depending not on what has happened in the past, but what is happening in the outside world right now. When the brain is working inefficiently, symptoms arise that you can feel and notice at a conscious level. You may experience high levels of anxiety, poor focus, trouble sleeping, irritability, chronic pain, depression, or distorted thought patterns.
Neurofeedback uses sensors to detect the electrical activity within your brain by placing these sensors on your head. The electrical activity is read and analyzed (no electrical activity is entering your brain), sending you feedback whenever your brain is not functioning optimally. Over time, this feedback helps re-balance your brainwaves so your brain can function as efficiently as possible. In this way, neurofeedback helps to free up any “stuck” brainwaves.
TYPES OF NEUROFEEDBACK
Sometimes, simply holding up the mirror is all the information your brain needs to heal itself. Other times, your brain needs a little push in the right direction.
NeurOptimal is like a whole-body workout for your brain – it provides feedback about how your brain is functioning as a whole. Whenever your brain is working inefficiently, it provides your brain with feedback in the brain’s language. As you are listening to a soundtrack, you will hear interruptions in the flow of the music – the interruptions are the language your brain can understand. Your brain only hears interruptions when it is functioning inefficiently. Providing the brain with this information allows it to become aware of its inefficient brainwave patterns and allows it the opportunity to choose a different, more efficient pattern of functioning. In this way, the brain learns to be more flexible, resilient to stress, and “unsticks” the brain from its bad habits.
Directed neurofeedback is like spot training for the brain – the clinician can target specific brainwaves in specific areas. Directed neurofeedback works by rewarding the brain when it produces (or stops producing) the brainwaves we want to increase (or decrease). It uses video, games, or sound to provide these rewards. For example, you might be sitting in front of a screen that shows a closed lily and you will be asked to open the lily. The lily will only open when your brain is producing the desired brainwave in the desired area. It is like your brain becomes the joy stick!
PEAK PERFORMANCE USING NEUROFEEDBACK
Neurofeedback has also been shown to help improve peak performance both cognitively and physically. The US military uses it to train their special forces and have adopted it as a new intervention for posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. In fact, 69 military bases in the US are using it as part of their resiliency and rehabilitation training. NASA uses neurofeedback to train astronauts, and professional football players and Olympic athletes are using it to optimize performance.