What if instead of taking a pill to mask your symptoms you could train your brain to be stronger and healthier and not have your symptoms anymore, all while just watching a movie? Sound too good to be true? It is not. It has been proven by science to be effective. Learn how “brain – training” can be the future of ADHD and anxiety treatment.
What is “Brain – Training” for ADHD & Anxiety Treatment
Neurofeedback, also known as “brain-training”, is a drug-free treatment that uses a sophisticated brain-computer interface to “strengthen” or “re-train” the brain. It has been gaining in popularity over the past 10 years. Due to more scientific studies proving its effectiveness and more qualified practitioners. It is recognized by The American Academy of Pediatrics to be Level #1 Best Support treatment for ADHD. Dr. Norman Doidge, a brain expert, wrote about it in the sequel to his international best-selling book. The Brain That Changes Itself called The Brain’s Way of Healing.
Further weight has been added to the growing body of evidence supporting Neurofeedback. With a recent large-scale study published in the medical journal European Child & Adult Psychiatry. This research has confirmed that Neurofeedback can work as well as medication and with lasting results with little or no side-effects.
One of the key authors of the study, Dr. Martin Arns says “This meta-analysis shows that after an average of 6 month follow-up, neurofeedback has a similar efficacy to active treatments including medication, opening the option to use medication more for short-term symptom relief, and using neurofeedback to achieve more longer-term benefit in ADHD, with the added benefit of there being almost no side-effects.”
How Does Neurofeedback Work?
Neurofeedback works through the principles of Operant Conditioning. This is much like the way you train your dog to walk on a leash. You give him positive reinforcement, a treat when he is doing well, and no treatment if he is pulling. If he pulls, you don’t move and if he doesn’t stop pulling, you give him a tug. Those principles have now been directly applied to the brain using a high-tech computer interface. When the brain is performing in its optimal mode of calm-focus. It receives the reward of a bright movie screen and loud volume.
When the brain is running too slow or too fast. These brain patterns have proven to cause ADHD and anxiety. Therefore the movie goes dim and the sound reduces too. If the brain goes far out of the zone of calm-focus and is using an irregular brain pattern, there is a negative sound. A ding that people (and brains) don’t like very much. This combination works to increase the use of regular, optimal, brain patterns, and decrease. The uses of irregular brain patterns that are at the heart of ADHD, anxiety, and other behavioral and cognitive challenges. Over time the brain works, while strengthening itself, to have the movie visual and audio play bright and loud.
How Can We Detect Brain Activity?
Sitting quietly for a few minutes while wearing a special Electroencephalogram (EEG) cap, brain activity can be read and analyzed using specialized computer equipment. EEG is a common method of detecting brain activity via the scalp. Neurons, or brain cells, carry a charge. When many neurons are activated at the same time and same place within the brain. The cumulative effect of that electrical energy can be picked up using an EEG cap. The oscillations of the brain activity can occur from extra slow speed to extra fast speed and can provide information about the use of brain patterns by the individual.
Irregular brain patterns have been identified for different diagnoses or challenges that people deal with. For example, the irregular brain pattern that causes ADHD is seen here. It is characterized by too much slow processing speed of the brain, called Theta. And, not enough faster, focused processing speed called beta. Once the data from the person’s brain has been acquired. Therefore it’s assembled into a colorful qEEG Brain Map that shows all of the areas of the brain that are using irregular brain patterns.
How Does Neurofeedback Heal ADHD and Anxiety?
Once the irregular brain pattern is identified. Neurofeedback is used to help people’s brains to decrease the use of the speeds, in the areas, that are causing their challenges. In the case of ADHD, the kid’s brains are taught to suppress Theta, slow processing speed, usage, while enhancing the use of beta focused processing speed.
Why Isn’t Neurofeedback More Mainstreamed?
Neurofeedback has been growing in popularity due to the increase in science and an increase in the number of people who have been using it telling others. Many doctors and healthcare practitioners do not know about Neurofeedback so don’t know to recommend it. Recently, within the past 7 years, Neurofeedback is being taught in medical and health care university classes. Prior to that, practitioners had to go out of their way to discover it, become trained, and use it. More and more colleges are teaching new doctors and mental health professionals about Neurofeedback. This will help an increase in the awareness and availability of qualified professionals.
Past vs. Present and Future
Historically, stimulant medication has been the first line of defense for children with ADHD. Previous studies show that the effects of the medication decrease after 2 years and significant side effects. Results such as anxiety, loss of appetite, and sleep difficulties. ADHD and anxiety were included in this distinction because they have been proven to be neurological problems with cognitive symptoms. We are in the middle of a shift in society where many people are sick of taking medications and want an alternative, that is healthier. Neurofeedback “Brain-training” has been deemed by a Harvard University Neuroscientist, Dr. Tedi Asher, as the “future of Psychiatric Disorders” due to its effectiveness and low-risk advantages.
Van Doren, J., Arns, M., Heinrich, H., Vollebregt, M. A., Strehl, U., & Loo, S. K. (2018). Sustained effects of neurofeedback in ADHD: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-018-1121-4