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What is Neurofeedback?

So, what is neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a specific form of biofeedback that is based on the brains electrical activity (EEG) (1, 2). Biofeedback is a broad term used to describe a group of non-invasive therapeutic procedures that have been applied by physicians, psychologists, and physiologists for many years to improve the symptoms of anxiety, headache, TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder), hypertension, urinary incontinence, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, ADHD, epilepsy and more (3). During a biofeedback session, non-invasive sensors are attached to the body (often the hands, face, head, or ears) to monitor and feedback information about bodily processes that normally occur automatically and without conscious thought (4, 5). These may include measurements of muscle tension (EMG), heart rate, heart rate variability, temperature, brain wave activity (EEG), skin conductance, etc. The purpose of the feedback is to allow biofeedback trainees to gain some conscious control over one or more of these normally automatic bodily processes so they can improve the way they feel and function. Biofeedback can be a powerful tool for increasing self-regulation skills.

Neurofeedback  has been used for many years by psychologists, researchers, physicians, and clinicians to assist people in learning to change their mental states (1, 7). Some of he areas that Neurofeedback training has been applied are as follows; (3, 7, 9);

It uses sensors attached to the scalp (and often to the ears) along with electronic amplifiers and computer software to record a client’s brain wave activity (EEG) and then feedback specific aspects of this activity to them, usually on a computer screen. With repeated practice clients can learn to alter their brainwave activity and actually recondition their brain wave patterns (1).

As with other forms of biofeedback, the brain wave activity that is monitored and fed back to the client during neurofeedback training is information that is normally outside of their awareness and not generally under their conscious control. For example, when people who struggle with ADHD get distracted they really don’t know what is happening in their brain that makes it difficult to focus. They may not even be aware when they lose focus and they don’t have much conscious ability to regulate their attention. Neurofeedback training helps them become aware of what happens to their brain waves when they lose focus and rewards them for maintaining a more focused state. With sufficient practice they can stay more focused automatically. They can build a new level of skill and awareness that tends to have lasting effects (5, 8). So, neurofeedback is a specialized form of biofeedback that provides clients with information about their brain wave activity and rewards them for learning to change this activity with the goal of improving how they feel and function.

1. D. Corydon Hammond PhD (2007): What Is Neurofeedback?, Journal of Neurotherapy: Investigations in
Neuromodulation, Neurofeedback and Applied Neuroscience, 10:4, 25-36
2. Lubar, J.F. (2003) Neurofeedback for the Management of Attention Deficit Disorders. In Schwartz, N., & Olson, R.P. (2003) A Historical Perspective on the Field of Biofeedback and Applied Psychophysiology
3. Yucha, C. & Montgomery, D (2008): Evidence-Based Practice in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback. Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback response to a Request for Information for the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.
4. Sherlin, L, Arns, M, Lubar, J, Heinrich, H, Kerson, C, Strehl, U, Sterman, MB, (2011). Neurofeedback and Basic Learning Theory: Implications for Research and Practice. Journal of Neurotherapy 15, p. 292-304
5. Sherlin, L; Arns, M, Lubar, J, Sokhadze, E (2010). A Position Paper on Neurofeedback for the Treatment of ADHD. Journal of Neurotherapy 14, p.66-78
6. Schwartz, N., & Olson, R.P. (2003) A Historical Perspective on the Field of Biofeedback and Applied Psychophysiology
7. Thatcher, R.W. (2013): Handbook of Quantitative Electroencephalography and EEG Biofeedback: Scientific Foundations and Practical Applications: Science of Quantitative EEG and Biofeedback with Exercises and Tutorials. eBook Edition 1.0.8. ANIPublishing Co.
8. Arns, M (2010). QEEG and Neurofeedback in ADHD: From Diagnostics to Treatment – Historical Context, Current State and Future Directions. Presentation at the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research.
9. Thorton, K & Carmody, D (2009). Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation: QEEG Biofeedback Treatment Protocols, Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 2009, (34) 1, 59-68.


Our Director

Robert Gurnee, MSW, DCSW, Director

Past president of the International Society of Neurofeedback & Research

Past president of the Neurofeedback Division of the Association of Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback

Our Location

Scottsdale Neurofeedback Institute
8114 E. Cactus Road - Suite 200
Scottsdale, Arizona, 85260

Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday 8.30am to 6pm

Phone: (480) 625-4123
Fax: (480) 424-7800