top of page

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, is a non-invasive, medication-free treatment that uses real-time monitoring of brainwave activity to train and enhance your ability to control certain aspects of your brain function. Because of neuroplasticity—your brain’s ability to change—neurofeedback therapy can help you retrain your brain to reduce mental health symptoms, improve performance, optimize brain performance, address conditions such as ADHD, trauma, anxiety, sleep disorders, and achieve a more balanced brain.

What is a brainwave?

A brainwave is the electrical activity generated by the brain. It can be measured using an electroencephalogram (EEG) and is categorized into different frequencies such as delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma. Each frequency band is associated with specific mental states - relaxation, focus, or deep sleep. Faster brain waves are associated with focus, thinking, and awareness, while slower brain waves are associated with relaxation, meditation, and deep sleep.

How does neurofeedback work?

A typical neurofeedback session begins with setting goals for the treatment based on the patient's condition and goals. Then brainwave activity is measured by electrodes that are placed on the patient's scalp with real-time measurement of their EEG. During this time, the patient may watch a movie or video. Once the EEG detects the patient's brain wave activity, the brain is rewarded with positive feedback. This training loop gives the brain thousands of opportunities to self-correct and be rewarded in one session. Training the brain with positive feedback is based on the principles of learning theory, or operant conditioning. Our brains are wired to seek out rewards, as this promotes survival and success.

What are the different types of neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is an umbrella term that refers to several different types of EEG biofeedback systems, which are based on the type of brain waves being trained, goals of therapy, and number of targeted sites in the brain.

The most common types of neurofeedback are:

  • Amplitude training: This is the original and still most popular approach in the field. It focuses on increasing or decreasing the size of certain brain waves.

  • Slow cortical training (ILF, ISF, and SCP): This approach trains the slowest brain waves, which can help with emotional regulation and brain stabilization.

  • Z-score training: The goal of this approach is to encourage a patient’s brain wave activity to move towards the norm or average of healthy people.

Are there any side effects?

Because neurofeedback is a non-invasive treatment as well as a form of exercise for the brain, it is generally considered safe without significant side effects.

If side-effects do occur, they are typically short-lived and usually resolve within 24 – 48 hours. The most common side-effects include sleepiness, lack of focus, mild headaches, and anxiety. It’s important that patients report side-effects to their clinician so they can modify the treatment. As long as the proper adjustments are made and you are working with a qualified and licensed mental health practitioner, there shouldn’t be any long-term symptoms or consequences.

What should I expect from neurofeedback?

Changes to the brain typically happen slowly and over time. It is recommended to have 1 to 2  neurofeedback training sessions per week. 

Every individual's response to training is different, but typically most patients require between 10 – 12 sessions before noticeable benefits emerge.  We encourage perseverance and patience during this time, as over 80% of people experience significant benefit from neurofeedback if they complete their training. Slow-wave training systems (i.e. ILF, ISF, and SCP) may take 1- 5 sessions.

To consolidate long-term benefits: 30-40 sessions are typically recommended for all systems. For more complex conditions such as autism, brain injury, and significant trauma, more sessions may be needed.

Why choose neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a powerful tool for enhancing brain function and addressing various conditions because it is non-invasive, drug-free and has shown promising results. By providing real-time feedback on brainwave activity, Pacific Neurofeedback offers a personalized approach targeting specific brain areas and frequencies, offering a personalized approach to long-term optimal brain health.

Request a consultation

We are here to help you begin your journey to optimal mental health and brain performance. 

Thank you! We look forward to connecting with you.

bottom of page