Ever wondered if it is possible to control your neurofeedback own negative psychological tendencies such as concentration problems, aggressiveness or a lack of motivation? No need for brain supplements in the form of pills if you’re not into that; through the use of EEG it is now possible to take control of the activity of your own nervous system:
This technique, a great example of the interplay between neuroscience and psychology called neurofeedback, allows for the alteration of brain activity through the learning concept operant condition, ultimately enabling you to become ‘conscious’ of your own brain activity in order to improve health and performance.
Overall, the neurofeedback concept looks the like this; the brain activity detected by EEG is projected by fancy software to show game-related stimulation on a computer screen. A good example is a pac-man figure that responds when a subject keeps his brain waves above desired amplitude for a specific frequency.
For each subject, an amplitude threshold is determined to enable the best learning possible. A reward is then provided whenever a subject maintains his brainwave frequency above desired amplitude for a specific percentage of the time. To put it simply; a relatively simple learning mechanism is used to control brain wave activity.
Neurofeedback has been used for quite a while now, being used as a clinical application in treatments for disorders ranging from ADHD and traumatic brain injury to depression.
Regardless, the widespread utilization of neurofeedback is still limited, with critics targeting the scientific criteria and possible placebo effect in particular. Various researchers have pointed out the effectiveness of neurofeedback for ADHD patients using controlled group studies though.
Using PET, it has been exposed that ADHD is related to slower brain activity; it was discovered that ADHD patients suffer from a lower brain metabolism. These findings are connected with EEG measurement indicating higher wave amplitude of slow frequencies (8 – 11 Hz & 4 – 7 Hz) and lower amplitude of higher frequencies (12 – 18 Hz), something which is specifically related to ADHD.
ADHD patients treated with neurofeedback expressed significant improvement on both tests and brain wave activity measures.
Interestingly enough, it also showed to be more active than standard ADHD medicine, as patients showed long-term positive effects and altered EEG pattern even when patients were not treated with neurofeedback anymore.
Still more research is required, but these results already nicely indicate that this brain supplementing technique could be a very useful alternative ADHD treatment.
Similar results have also been gained while studying the use of neurofeedback as a clinical application for depression and various other disorders, but more effective studies need to be performed before decent scientific conclusions can be drawn.
Another very interesting finding from a recent study also shows evidence of actual change in the brain structure through neurofeedback. After just 30 minutes of practice, a lasting change in cortical excitability and synaptic plasticity was discovered, indicating the brain supplementing nature of neurofeedback even more.
Fortunately this practice is not only useful for people with psychological disorders, but actually also used by healthy people who want to improve their lives and optimize their brain.
Using neurofeedback, it seems to be possible to improve your memory, enhance stress management and improve your concentration ability, all without negative side-effects. Sounds like an ultimate brain supplement! Whether or not all these claims are true is to be questioned, but fact is that thousands of people have successfully achieved positive results using neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback obviously shows the potential that can be achieved when various disciplines (psychology and neuroscience in this case) work together to solve problems.
The research out there already proves that neurofeedback has the potential to become a very useful factor in the treatment of various disorders and even the improvement of the lives of mentally healthy people, functioning as a very potent brain supplements. This technique may thus become an important aspect in new non-pharmacological treatments and an interesting tool to enhance brain plasticity in a safe manner in the near future.
With some more calibration and refinement and with the renewed interest in neurofeedback & brain supplements, as well as the neuroimaging techniques of nowadays, this future may be quite near.
Optimize your brain, optimize life!