Understanding Neurofeedback

Understanding Neurofeedback

Living with trauma, addiction, anxiety, depression, or any other problem that affects your mental health can leave you feeling like you’re not fully in command of your own perceptions, emotions, thoughts, habits, and behaviors. 

Indeed, many people who are affected by mental health conditions do experience varying degrees of brain activity dysfunction or imbalance. And when your brainwave patterns are out of sync, you’re much less likely to feel clear, centered, and in control. 

If this sounds all too familiar, our team at EXIS Recovery in West Los Angeles can help.

Let’s explore how a noninvasive “brain training” therapy called neurofeedback can teach you to replace dysfunctional brainwave patterns with more balanced patterns — and how doing so can help you gain the upper hand over adverse thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  

What is neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a mind-based (cognitive) therapy that teaches your brain how to recognize negative or counterproductive brainwave patterns so it can learn how to actively replace them with more balanced brain activity patterns. 

Neurofeedback has three interconnected goals:

By teaching your brain how to self-regulate more efficiently and effectively, neurofeedback shifts the balance of power from your mental health condition back to you. Simply put, it gives you increased autonomy over your perceptions and reactions in virtually any situation.  

How does neurofeedback work?

To comprehend how neurofeedback trains your brain, it’s important to understand how your brainwave activity patterns influence your thoughts, mood, and behaviors. It’s also important to understand how negative or counterproductive patterns can be changed for the better.

Your brainwave “orchestra”

Communicating brain cells (neurons) produce a linked series of synchronized electrical pulses called brainwaves. There are various types of brainwaves; some are slow and rhythmic, while others are fast and energetic. 

It can be helpful to think of brainwaves as musical instruments and the cohesive patterns they create as a brainwave “orchestra.” Low-frequency brainwaves provide a deep and consistent drumbeat, while mid-to-high-frequency brainwaves drive the melody with light, flexible notes. 

When your brain is functioning normally, low-frequency, mid-range, and high-frequency brainwaves blend to form a continuous, harmonic “symphony,” which is the continuous spectrum of consciousness that guides you through life.

Neuroplasticity potential

The brainwaves that drive your continuous stream of brain activity play a major role in your thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and behaviors. In other words, your brainwave patterns help shape how you experience your daily life and the world around you.

When your brainwave patterns become off balance or out of sync, the cascading effects can contribute to mood problems, behavioral issues, and functional challenges.

Luckily, your brain has an extraordinary capacity to reorganize itself and create new neural pathways in response to your experiences and environment. 

Known as neuroplasticity, this amazing “muscle building” feature of your brain also allows it to strengthen desired neural pathways — and gradually restore balanced brainwave patterns — in response to repeated thoughts and actions. 

Practicing mind over matter

Neurofeedback is the practice of reinforcing the positive brainwave patterns that give rise to healthier thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Essentially, it’s neuroplasticity in action. 

During a session, you sit comfortably in a chair with electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors on your scalp. These sensors read your brain’s electrical signals (brainwaves) and transmit them to a computer; they don’t transmit any signals to your brain.

Next, you may be asked to watch images on a screen, listen to music, or play a video game. As you engage in the chosen activity, your doctor watches a visual representation of the ebb and flow of your brainwave patterns on a monitor. Mapped with specialized software, this data is used to set targeted brain-training parameters. 

The activity you participate in during neurofeedback elicits a brainwave response, while the training parameters actively reinforce balanced patterns or nudge unbalanced patterns in the right direction. 

If you’re interacting with a mind-controlled video game, for example, you can only continue advancing when your brainwave patterns are balanced. Every time your brainwave patterns become dissonant or off kilter, the game pauses. 

This immediate feedback helps your brain learn what it needs to do to keep the game going. Eventually, your brain figures out how to sustain the helpful brainwave patterns that keep the game active — which happen to be the very same patterns that promote healthier thoughts and behaviors. 

Can neurofeedback help me?

Neurofeedback can be a valuable component of a comprehensive mental health care plan. Whether you’re dealing with ADHD, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, or something else, this targeted brain-training approach can help you take control of your mind and your life. 

Call 424-244-3513 to learn more about neurofeedback therapy at EXIS Recovery in West Los Angeles, or click online to book an appointment with one of our trusted mental health experts any time. 

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