Neurofeedback: what is and how is this therapeutic tool used?
In recent times we are witnessing an authentic revolution in the development of diagnostic and therapeutic tools that allow us to evaluate brain function and influence it. And among all of them, Biofeedback stands out and more specifically Neurofeedback, a form of Biofeedback that acts through the registration and regulation of brain electrical activity (electroencephalogram).
Neurofeedback, therefore, is a type of neurotherapy, that is, a treatment that seeks to modify brain function by acting directly on it.
Unlike psychotherapy, which influences, through the relationship between therapist and patient, on different psychological processes, neurotherapy arises from the brain-machine relationship , and does not address the psychological processes themselves, but the underlying neurobiological state. Let's see then what are the keys of Neurofeedback.
- Related article: "Biofeedback: what is it and what is it for?"
A form of neurotherapy
Obviously, all psychotherapy will produce, if effective, changes at the neurobiological level, because the mind is based on neurochemical and neurophysiological processes of the nervous system. And vice versa, in any type of neurotherapy the therapist-patient relationship will have its role and will condition its effectiveness.
However, to simplify, we will say that psychotherapy works on psychological processes, and has as one of its central elements the therapeutic relationship, and neurotherapy works by seeking the direct modification of the function of the nervous system , through specifically designed devices. That is, neurotherapy is a therapy centered on the neurobiological level, and through its influence at that level, it will also modify psychological processes underlying them.
What is Neurofeedback?
Technically, therefore, Neurofeedback is a treatment that acts on brain waves to allow the person to be aware of their brain activity and modify it . Starting from an electroencephalographic record (EEG), the Neurofeedback devices extract a series of parameters that will be used to evaluate the bioelectrical function, transforming the analog signal (the classic EEG that we all know) into data whose modification we can program.
In any case, the Neurofeedback is a non-invasive method that influences brain function passively , through the reinforcement or inhibition of certain brain waves by means of images or sounds. In other words, Neurofeedback devices do not emit any type of wave or energy.
According to the International Alliance for Certification in Biofeedback (BCIA), Neurofeedback is used to modify the electrical activity of the CNS including the EEG, evoked potentials, slow cortical potentials and other electrical activity either cortical or subcortical . Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that works with brain wave measurements through a paradigm of operant conditioning.
Its use in mental health
Biofeedback in general, and Neurofeedback in particular, they have a clinical aspect, and another aimed at improving performance . Regarding its clinical applications, the most recognized is the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), having been included in several clinical guidelines of this table and endorsed by scientific groups such as the American Pediatric Association. Apart from ADHD, favorable results have been published with disorders as diverse as brain damage, epilepsy, anxiety, OCD, headache, etc.
Regarding its use in improving performance, has been applied in the preparation of elite athletes , artists and in the improvement of cognitive function in healthy subjects.
The bet of Vitaliza for the use of Neurofeedback as a therapeutic tool, either as a final choice therapy or complementary to other forms of intervention, is final. The experience of the last twenty years has been very encouraging and this has encouraged us to promote, together with other health professionals, the creation of the Spanish Society of Bio and Neurofeedback (SEBINE), authentic regulator and engine of the sector in our country.