“Neurons that fire together wire together”
(a phrase coined in 1949 by Donald Hebb, Neuropsychologist)
Keeping the above phrase in mind, neurons that fire together wire together, the neuronal activity in our brain is much like an orchestra. Imagine a beautiful piece of music is being conducted, very pleasing to the ear, then someone in the drum section coughs, a pianist’s timing is off, someone in the choir sings off key and the conductor tries to get everyone back on track. Quite like an orchestra, our environments, our social/emotional interactions, our DNA all play roles in the regulation or dysregulation of our electroencephalogram (EEG, a record of the culmination of neuronal activity in our brain). For example, a person can have an anxiety disorder that is either inherited and/or reinforced by a parent’s display of anxiety. This may create a dysregulated EEG, reflecting that the person is constantly worried or preoccupied, fighting against those feelings and yearning for relaxation – the dysregulated EEG, in turn, is distracting to the harmony of the whole! The good news is that neurofeedback training takes advantage of our brains’ plasticity to correct a myriad of dysregulation - by encouraging the dysregulated neurons to fire in a more regulated pattern - neurons that fire together wire together!
Neurofeedback is the process of regulating that dysregulated EEG activity. The process trains brainwaves (EEG activity) to become more efficient and ultimately, normalized. It is not invasive and no medication is needed. Research has shown that many conditions, including ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety, brain injury, attention, concentration, sleep disorders, addiction and depression have been favorably influenced by neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback is actually the training process – prior to neurofeedback a quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG) is gathered through a recording of your EEG to inform the training process.
Discover the Stages of Neurofeedback:
You meet with Lea for a bio-psychosocial assessment in which your clinical symptoms and appropriate treatment are explored.
EEG Recording: Neurons are like microscopic batteries that charge up and discharge electricity. They secrete chemicals that influence other neurons to charge and discharge.
Your recorded EEG is downloaded into a normative database (this FDA registered database is comprised of people who have been screened for normality and range from 2 months to 82 years) where it will be compared against people your age, gender, and handedness. A report is rendered that illustrates areas that are within normal ranges and areas that are not, referred to as a qEEG (Brain Map). In addition, data from the EEG is transposed to z scores (standard deviations above and/or below the norm), and images that help to understand both “areas” of interest, and the connections between those areas.
Neuronavigator (Neuroguide) can help to pinpoint areas in the brain where the abnormal Z scores originate. This information is utilized to build a customized protocol for your neurofeedback training sessions. It is also used to compare pre and post data.
Protocol development and Neurofeedback sessions
Once a qEEG is produced, analyzed and a training protocol developed, neurofeedback is employed to take full advantage of the brains’ plasticity utilizing the brains’ reward system through operant conditioning. This is accomplished in a variety of ways, utilizing DVDs, games, audio, etc. The EEG is connected to a feedback modality, for example if using a DVD, when the neuronal pattern is moving toward a regulated pattern approximating normal, then the user sees the DVD in color and hears the sound, but if the neuronal pattern is moving away from the norm or regulated pattern then the DVD loses it’s color and the sound fades away. The brain’s reward system then works to regulate the activity in order for the client to see the DVD and hear the sound. Over time the brain appears to begin to enjoy the new regulated pattern of behavior, and in many cases continues to stay there.
Many clients notice a shift toward regulation in as few as 5 sessions and a more permanent change in up to 20 sessions.
Listen to the Neurofeedback Podcast
In this episode we talk with Lea Leonard and delve deep into how neurofeedback can help you train, and retrain your brain to heal and grow.