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More on neurofeedback therapy (NFB)

NFB helps the individual consciously control brainwaves by measuring localized brainwaves, depending on what is being treated). For example:

  • Alpha waves—associated with peacefulness, readiness, meditation and being deeply-relaxed—are typically targeted to treat conditions like stress and anxiety
  • Beta waves—characterized by focus, sustained attention, tension, alertness and excitement–are targeted to improve characteristics like attention and focus (associated with ADHD or performance enhancement).

NFB monitors brainwave activity and almost immediately provides feedback, often through visual or audio cues. For example:

  • The clinician might measure your beta waves while the individual watches the screen. When the individual manifests beta waves, the screen brightens in response; if they are inhibited, the screen dims. 
  • With enough reinforcement, the individual tries to repeat the behavior that gets the reward (a brighter screen).

It may take one or more months to see desired improvements, but there is no consensus on how many sessions it takes. A 60-minute neurofeedback session is typical. It is also unclear how long the therapy’s effects last without ongoing treatment.

A typical neurofeedback therapy session

  • Set the mood. Helping with relaxation and emotion management in a relaxing and comforting setting.
  • Connect to electrodes. Putting on a helmet, cap or headband with sensors to detect the brain’s electrical signals and transmit them to a computer (no needles or medications are involved).
  • Participate in stimulus activity. Depending on issues being treated, individuals may be lying down or sitting in a chair, watching something on a screen, listening to audio or engaging in activities like playing a video game. At the same time, the clinician is monitoring activity and mapping brainwaves against the ideal state.
  • Receive feedback. Individuals receive cues as to how their brain is performing, with a goal to remain in tune with their reactions to achieve the desired state. 
  • Repeat. Results can take 6-20 sessions, though there is no confirmed number that guarantees lasting results.

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