the science

science behind neurofeedback

Neurofeedback was discovered in 1954. Since then a large amount of research has been done in the field of neuroscience which has refined our understanding of how the brain works.

neuroplasticity

One of the most important discoveries of neuroscience was “neuroplasticity”, a term coined by Polish neuroscientist Dr Jerzy Konorski in 1948 to describe observed changes in neuronal structure, although it wasn’t widely used until the 1960s. Before that, we believed that once the adult brain was mature, it was fixed and if damaged, could not repair itself. Neurofeedback training makes use of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reshape how it works to meet the challenges we face in everyday life.

Although we are all born with some “hard wiring” – networks of neurons and connecting fibres – we now know that our brains are constantly being shaped by experience. A repeated experience results in increased and stronger connections between and among neurons.  These small changes, frequently enough repeated, lead to changes in how our brains function. If the experiences are negative ones, the resulting neural networks will reflect an adaptation which will keep repeating the same response to that stressor with increasing intensity. Neurofeedback is a way of assisting the brain to learn new and better ways of responding to those stressors in the present moment and not repeating habitual reactions of the past.

Neuroptimal® neurofeedback

Recent advances in neuroscience came out of the work of Dr Karl H Pribram (born February 25, 1919 in Vienna, Austria), a professor at Georgetown University and emeritus professor of psychology and psychiatry at Stanford University and Radford University. Board-certified as a neurosurgeon, Pribram did pioneering work on the definition of the limbic system (mammalian brain), the relationship of the frontal cortex to the limbic system, the sensory-specific “association” cortex of the parietal and temporal lobes, and the classical motor cortex of the human brain. To the general public, Pribram is best known for his development of the holonomic brain model of cognitive function and his contribution to ongoing neurological research into memory, emotion, motivation and consciousness (source: Wikipedia)

NeurOptimal® neurofeedback systems are the latest generation of brain training neurofeedback. The system is dynamic and tracks the brain’s electrical activity millisecond-by-millisecond to give precisely-timed feedback through auditory cues.  When we are cued to pay attention at the moment of change, we can, as the brain is designed to do, optimize our performance.  Habitual unhelpful brain patterns need to be interrupted in order for positive change to occur. 

More technically, NeurOptimal® is designed to give feedback at the precise moment change is required, based on mathematical calculations of the brainwaves’ electrical intensity, the duration of that signal and how frequently it occurs.  The software reads 256 data points of electrical output from the scalp per second, the speed of the brain’s internal communication.  When the software detects change, it alerts the brain through interruptions in auditory input, for example, music.  Those interruptions serve as cues that we need to pay attention to a habitual process beginning to occur and if that habitual process has a negative outcome, then the brain can redecide whether to take that pathway or not.

Through this process, we can shift out of negative mental habits such as worrying, flashbacks, anxiety, disrupted sleep, nightmares, insomnia or poor concentration and reset our mental and emotional patterns.