Neurofeedback Frequency Asked Questions
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, is a non-invasive, medication-free approach for treating a variety of different conditions. Neurofeedback encourages the brain to develop healthier patterns of activity. The goal of treatment is not only to change how you think and feel, but also to change your brain on a biological level for better functioning. Think of it no differently like an update for your computer; we are simply aiding in updating the individual's operating system- the brain.
Neurofeedback works by placing electrodes on the individual's scalp. It is a pleasant and relaxing experience, with most individuals commenting that at the end of each session, they feel more relaxed and less stressed.
Recent research has shown that when given the proper support, the brain has the ability to change and adapt, a property known as neuroplasticity. Neurofeedback can encourage and speed up this process of neuroplasticity. Words alone are often not enough. Simply telling someone to calm down or focus doesn’t solve the underlying issues of conditions like anxiety or ADHD. Neurofeedback allows us to speak to the brain with its own language: brain waves.
An individual’s brain can be mapped by the use of non-invasive electrodes. From here, it provides the practitioner a roadmap to how and why the brain is functioning and a treatment protocol can be assessed and implemented.
Tell Me More About the Brainwaves:
Different brain waves are associated with different states. Brain waves are measured in Hertz (Hz) (cycles per second) and can change across a wide range of variables. Brainwaves are associated with positive functions as well as negative symptoms. For example, when slower brain waves are dominant we can feel sluggish, inattentive and scattered, and can feel depressed or develop insomnia. When higher frequencies abound, we are engaged in critical thinking, hyper-alertness or anxiety, but can also result in nightmares, hyper-vigilance and impulsive behavior.
Brainwaves operate like an orchestra. If a specific brainwave is too prominent in the brain, it can cause disruption and inefficiency. Likewise, if a specific brainwave isn't active enough, we aren't able to access the benefits it can provide to us. Imbalances of brainwaves can be caused by a variety of different domains. Genetics, trauma, stress, lifestyle and behavioral habits can all play a role in how our brainwaves communicate.
The different types of brainwaves include: delta, theta, alpha, lobeta, beta, hibeta and gamma (gamma is currently of limited clinical value, as it is argued that it cannot be effectively measured using current EEG technology). Below are the brainwaves individually explained more in depth:
Delta (1-3 Hz)
Positive Function- Deep and dreamless sleep, cellular repair, healing the body, the cellular ‘cleaning crew’, unconsciousness, a trance state.
Negative Symptoms- Traumatic brain injury (TBI), trauma, toxicity, neuropathy, lethargy, some types of ADHD, learning disorders.
Theta (4-7 Hz)
Positive Function- Experience just before sleep or upon waking, allows the mind to move from a waking state to sleep, a creative state, healing, integration of mind and body, internalized thoughts, disassociation (protective during danger), deep meditative states, memory formation and consolidation, intuitive states, imagination and imagery, a dream-like state experience.
Negative Symptoms- Concentration problems, disassociation, fogginess, lack of clarity, inattention, impulsivity, learning disorders, emotional dysregulation, PTSD symptoms, ADHD symptoms, distractibility, cognitive decline, depression, and anxiety.
Alpha (8-12 Hz)
Positive Function- Allows brain flexibility and the ability to shift into an optimal performance state or flight or fight, but also to downshift into a relaxed and self-soothing state that is healing. Allows relaxation, meditative states, healing, inner calm, peacefulness, joy, open focus, and gratitude.
Negative Symptoms- Depression, fogginess, drowsy, a ‘heady’ anxiety, anxiety, ADHD symptoms, distractibility, an inability to be alone without noise, migraines, learning disorders, frequent worry, or a feeling of stuckness.
Low Beta (12-15 Hz SMR)
Positive Function- Relaxed and attentive state, physically still, focused, integrated, present, clarity, relaxed thinking, calmness, and alert.
Negative Symptoms- Poor sleep, lack of clarity, ADHD symptoms, OCD symptoms, anxiety, hyperactivity, and depression.
Beta (15-20 Hz)
Positive Function- Alert and awake, thinking, awareness of environment, performance, analytical, math, planning, and externally oriented.
Negative Symptoms- Anxiety, stressed, bruxism, muscle tension, hyperactive, impulsivity, irritability, sensitivities, light or poor sleep, and distracted.
High Beta (20-35 Hz)
Positive Function- Peak performance, cognitive processing, alertness, the ability to fight or flee, and hyperfocus.
Negative Symptoms- Overwhelm, anxiety, panic, OCD, ruminations, overthinking, worry, migraine, agitation, irritable, anger, hyperactivity, hypervigilance, poor sleep, emotional fatigue, physical fatigue, and stress.
Gamma (35-45 Hz)
Positive Function- Thinking, integrating thoughts, high level information processing, integration of new material, ability to problem solve.
Negative Symptoms- Gamma is not commonly trained.
What to Expect During the Process:
All new clients start with a private consultation which includes a preliminary discussion about your needs and what we can offer. This time together is extremely valuable, to learn as much as possible what it means to be you. During this time, a detailed description of the Neurotherapy process will be explained and full extent of your expectations will be discussed in order to fully meet them.
The next step is scheduling an appointment for a Quantitative Electroencephalogram (qEEG). This appointment sets the tone for your treatment strategy, allowing us to visualize the baseline activity of your brain, and to evaluate the appropriate treatment protocols based on the results. The duration of this appointment is ~60 minutes.
Once the QEEG has been processed, a follow up appointment is scheduled to go over the results and to discuss treatment strategies.
Neurofeedback training is similar to the process of becoming physically fit. It takes many repetitions for behavioral change to become conditioned behavior. Just as a muscle builds new fibers to support heavier lifting, the brain builds new, functional neural connections through neurofeedback therapy sessions to support brain based behavioral change.
The client has the option of participating in either 45 minutes sessions or 60 minute sessions, depending on their goals and if the individual would like to incorporate psychotherapy. During each session, the client will have electrodes placed on their scalp and relax while the form of biofeedback occurs (visual, audio, tactical and/or sometimes both). Each session is conducted in the comfort of a private, quiet and therapeutic space.
In order to ensure that these neuroplastic changes steadily occur, a once to twice-per-week schedule initially is the standard mandatory minimum for neurofeedback therapy. This frequency of training keeps the brain in an active state of learning and growth, allowing each session to progressively build on the last. We highly encourage a minimum commitment of 30 sessions.
Regardless of training frequency, all clients are consistently evaluated throughout their training in order to track shifts in symptom presentations and overall client experience.
What is a QEEG?
QEEG is short for quantitative electroencephalograms. It maps, records and indicates where brain activity has higher or lower amplitude levels. Using this data, it becomes easier to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses and help bring the amplitude levels back to normal.
The qEEG machine simply records your brain activity with a cap that looks very similar to a swim cap, with 20 electrode points. Each electrode point corresponds to regions of the brain. These electrode points record the brain activity to help identify areas of the brain that are above or below the normal amplitude levels, ranging from 1-30 Hz.
The qEEG is the initial test and takes about 14 minutes to complete. The testing is divided into two 7 minute tests. One test is completed with the individual's eye's open, while the other test is completed with the individual's eye's closed.
In order to help your brain heal, you need to know what areas of the brain are affected the most, which is conducted by mapping the brain, also known as the qEEG.
Brain Training Explained:
Biofeedback is the technique used to help you gain more awareness over the physiological and neurochemical responses in your body. The goal is to train the individual to have control over some of the functions and responses in their own body that they previously didn’t have control over or were unaware of. Sometimes the previously adaptive functionings of brainwaves can become maladaptive. The goal is to help bring the brainwaves back to an optimal state for that specific individual's needs and goals.
When doing neurofeedback training, you are hooked up to various types of amplifiers that receive information from your brain, which allows the brain to see itself so that it can begin to operate more effectively. These might measure brainwaves, heart rate, muscle tension, or other functions. That information is then translated back to you and presented in a way that you can understand, such as visual, auditory, or tactile feedback. For example, you might receive the feedback on what is happening in your body via clarity of images on a television screen or through sounds in headphones.
By watching or listening to the feedback, the individual begins to train themselves to control the responses within your body. A biofeedback therapist will help you through this process. They might teach you how to use relaxation techniques or visualization to change your heart rate or muscle activity.
What Neurofeedback Treats:
Research suggests that neurofeedback can be effective for conditions such as, but not limited to:
Bruxism or Teeth Grinding
Increased quality of life
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Other mental health disorders
More and more individuals and practitioners are increasingly becoming aware to the practice of neurofeedback. Studies have been conducted to explore the ability of an EEG biofeedback to treat certain conditions, which have shown positive results.
Our culture aims at helping individuals take ownership of their lives and their bodies back and aid in individuals stepping into the best version of themselves. Neurofeedback and biofeedback therapy may be the avenue that will help address the root cause. Have questions or concerns? We are all ears.