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Neurotherapy or Neurofeedback (NFB)

What is Neurotherapy

Neurofeedback (NFB), also called Neurotherapy, is a type of biofeedback that presents real-time feedback from brain activity in order to reinforce healthy brain function through operant conditioning. It is commonly used for mental health treatment.

Typically, electrical activity from the brain is collected via sensors placed on the scalp using electroencephalography (EEG), with feedback presented using video displays or sound. There is significant evidence supporting Neurotherapy for generalized treatment of mental disorders, and it has been practiced over four decades, although never gaining prominence in the medical mainstream. NFB is relatively non-invasive and is administered as a long-term treatment option, typically taking a month to complete.

Types of Neurotherapy

There are seven types of Neurotherapy for the treatment of various conditions:

  • Frequency/power neurofeedback
  • Slow cortical potential neurofeedback (SCP-NF) 
  • Low-energy neurofeedback system (LENS)
  • Hemoencephalography (HEG) neurofeedback
  • Live Z-score neurofeedback
  • Low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (LORETA)
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

The type of Neurotherapy recommended depends on the condition or symptoms you are trying to address.

During a typical Neurotherapy session, you’ll sit in a chair with electrodes on your scalp. This is completely painless. It’s similar to the doctor using a stethoscope to listen to your heartbeat.

Neurotherapy
Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, interact with each other, earn a living, and enjoy life.

Your therapist will guide you through some simple activities while the EEG records the electrical impulses in your brain. Depending on your treatment plan, you may be asked to watch images on a screen, play a video game, or listen to music. 

The electrodes provide instant audio and visual feedback about your brain activity. If you’re watching images on a screen, for example, the screen will become brighter when your brain produces favorable brainwave patterns. When it produces less harmonious brainwave patterns, the screen dims.

This instant feedback helps your brain learn what it needs to do to make the screen brighter. Over time, your brain figures out how to develop and sustain the desired brainwave patterns (and minimize the production of undesired ones) that keep the screen bright. [1]

How Does Neurotherapy Work?

Since the first reports of neurofeedback treatment in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 1976, many studies have investigated the effects of neurofeedback on different symptoms of ADHD such as inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. A recent investigation into the effectiveness of neurofeedback for ADHD has found neurofeedback to have durable effects following treatment, although prior work has contradicted this conclusion. Standard neurofeedback protocols for ADHD include theta/beta, SMR, and slow cortical potentials are well investigated and have demonstrated specificity.

Depressive and Anxiety Disorders

Neurofeedback training, particularly localized neurofeedback training, has been found to be therapeutic for patients with depression and self-regulation. Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also have been found to benefit from neurofeedback, including children with developmental trauma.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke

Neurofeedback has been used to treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) in military and civilian populations. Neurofeedback has been also found to be generally positive for stroke recovery, with improvements found in motor function and behavior comparable with conventional occupational therapy.

Epilepsy

Neurofeedback has been found to be a viable alternative for patients who did not find benefit from other medical treatment. The most common protocol for seizure control was sensorimotor rhythm (SMR), which was found to significantly reduce weekly seizures.

Performance Enhancement

The applications of neurofeedback to enhance performance extend to the arts in fields such as music, dance, and acting. A study with conservatoire musicians found that alpha-theta training benefitted the three music domains of musicality, communication, and technique.  Historically, alpha-theta training, a form of neurofeedback, was created to assist creativity by inducing hypnagogia, a “borderline waking state associated with creative insights”, through facilitation of neural connectivity.

Alpha-theta training has also been shown to improve novice singing in children. Alpha-theta neurofeedback, in conjunction with heart rate variability training, a form of biofeedback, has also produced benefits in dance by enhancing performance in competitive ballroom dancing and increasing cognitive creativity in contemporary dancers. Additionally, neurofeedback has also been shown to instill a superior flow state in actors, possibly due to greater immersion while performing.

However, randomized control trials have found that neurofeedback training (using either sensorimotor rhythm or theta/beta ratio training) did not enhance performance on attention-related tasks or creative tasks. It has been suggested that claims made by proponents of alpha wave neurofeedback training techniques have yet to be validated by randomized, double-blind, controlled studies, a view which even some supporters of alpha neurofeedback training have also expressed.

Neurofeedback has been used to improve athletic psychomotor and self-regulation ability. Sensorimotor rhythm neurofeedback training of accuracy has been used in top-level sports, especially in target-based sports (e.g. golf).

Neurotherapy
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Side Effects

Neurotherapy produces no side effects. Medications have the potential to cause side effects that can contribute to the already existing challenge. Neurotherapy, however, produces no known side effects.

Benefits

Neurotherapy addresses brain dysregulation. A variety of conditions and symptoms are related to brain dysregulation, so there are many applications for Neurotherapy. Some of the most common conditions treated with Neurotherapy include:

Neurotherapy can also provide a clearer mindset, which is helpful for making more positive decisions, such as choosing to abstain from an addictive substance or behavior.

The benefits you can experience from Neurotherapy depend on your treatment protocol. Commonly cited benefits include enhanced memory and focus, decreased impulsivity and anxiety, better mental clarity, and more restful sleep. Neurotherapy may even reduce the desire for addictive substances and provide relief from withdrawal cravings.

Possible Neurotherapy Cons

The effectiveness of the medical treatment of psychiatric disorders using EEG neurofeedback was called into question by Thibault et al (2015, 2017). However, the validity of the research by Thibault et al (2017) was later called into question (Pigott et al, 2018).

A double-blinded, sham-controlled study of neurofeedback as a treatment for insomnia (Schabus et al, 2017) found that neurofeedback did not beat placebo.

Over 3,000 scientific articles have been published on EEG neurofeedback since 1968, and in 2019, the FDA permitted the marketing of the first neurofeedback medical device for the treatment of ADHD.

Who Uses Neurotherapy?

Because common conditions like depression, ADHD, anxiety, concussions, and more occur when your brain waves aren’t working together in perfect balance. Neurofeedback training allows you to retrain specific areas of your brain to bring it back to its functional best.

Because neurofeedback is a non-invasive treatment as well as a form of exercise for the brain, it is generally considered safe without significant side effects. When side-effects do occur, they are typically short-lived and usually resolve within 24 – 48 hours.

Neurotherapy Near Me

Your doctor may be able to refer you to a local neurotherapist. It is also helpful to check with your health insurance company to see if your policy will cover any or all of the treatment. If so, you may have to use a specific Neurotherapy provider.

Get Help. Get Better. Get Your Life Back. We Level Up Florida Mental Health Center Can Help now.

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For some primary behavioral health treatment clients, medical detox and or addiction rehab may be required first.  If you have a co-occurring severe substance abuse diagnosis, please contact us prior to beginning inpatient mental health therapy. Primary medical detox unit and primary addiction rehab are available at other affiliate facilities.

We Level Up FL can help with primary inpatient mental health programs. Depending on the extent of secondary disorders, we can first help assess your condition and thereafter guide you to suitable treatment options. We do not offer PHP, IOP, or outpatient level of care at this time. Programs, services, and treatments vary. Get a free assessment and find out what treatment options are most suitable for you. Call to learn more.

You got here because your mental health problems are spinning out of control. Have you spent months or even years trying to convince everyone including yourself that your problem isn’t “that bad?” Stop the denials. End your mental health pain. Mental health problems and secondary disorders do not go away on their own. Get help before things get out of control and consume your life.

Neurotherapy
There are many paths to addressing psychiatric disorders because treatments now are being personalized.  Contact us today to get help.

Clearly, the sooner you get help, the faster you can get better. Do not worry about missing time out on your job, family, or school. Because your illness already robs you of precious time. When you are preoccupied with your next fix or too sick or way too high to even show up. And no worries, your job is guaranteed by law.

When you feel ready or just want someone to speak to about Neurotherapy alternatives to change your life call us. Even if we cannot assist you, we will lead you to wherever you can get support. There is no obligation. Simply call our help hotline today.

Sources:

[a] Chapin TJ, Russell-Chapin LA. Neurotherapy and Neurofeedback: Brain-Based Treatment for Psychological and Behavioral problems. Routledge; 2013.

[b] We Level Up – Mental Health Services » Mental Health Program