Neurofeedback, commonly known as EEG Biofeedback, harnesses the brain’s capacity to change in order to reshape weaknesses in networks or power. We can train the brain to function in healthier and more optimal ways. Many cognitive, emotional, social, and behavioral challenges stem from brain function. While medications can be an effective tool, they do not always get at the source of the problem. Research has demonstrated that Neurofeedback is effective at improving attention, reducing anxiety, enhancing learning, relieving mood, and helping behavior, all without the use of medication.
Feedback Guided Learning
Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic is committed to helping you use your brain in healthier ways, not just mask the symptoms. Through a non-invasive quantitative EEG brain map, we can identify target areas that would benefit from training. From there, it is just learning – feedback and practice. Through weekly individualized sessions, you are guided with an instantaneous signal of changes in your brain’s electrical activity. You get a reward (auditory, visual, or both) when you meet a certain goal. No reward when you do not.
American Academy of Pediatrics reviewed scientific evidence about non-medical treatments for ADHD and placed neurofeedback in the top tier has having "Best Support" in treatment of ADHD without medication.
- Explore Neurofeedback -
Everything we do, process, and experience is the result of electrical firing of neurons. EEG technology has traditionally been used by neurologists, and other medical professionals, but it is increasingly used in the behavioral and mental health fields to guide the brain towards healthier patters.
With a 19-channel EEG, we can see whether there is too much or too little activity in certain cortical regions, but we can also see whether areas of the brain are coordinating activity appropriately. Through complex computer analyses, we can “see” your brain more clearly, even deeper structures like the limbic system (i.e., emotional regulation centers).
During individual training sessions, EEG sensors collect your brain’s electrical activity patterns. Through complex technology, your brain activity is compared to a unique target or goal. From there, it is feedback and practice. You get notified immediately (through sounds and/or images on the screen) if your brain reaches your target. All you have to do is pay attention. Like all learning, it takes time and practice. It is important to be patient.
In 20 sessions, you get over 70,000 chances to learn. The latest research in neuroscience and psychology demonstrates that repetition yields changes in brain behavior. This is neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is what allows us to reshape our brain to meet (and overcome) challenges we face. Everyone’s brain is constantly evolving through experience and environment. Repetition of these experiences strengthens existing connections and increases the development of new neuronal connections.
Neurofeedback is non-invasive and painless. Through the numerous studies done evaluating Neurofeedback, no lasting adverse effects were reported. Similar to most treatments, however, there might be short-lived effects of neurofeedback: irritability, restlessness, headaches, and tiredness have been reported. These symptoms typically clear within 24 hours. We work with you to make adjustments to your training plan in order to minimize these effects or prevent their occurrence.
Remember – neurofeedback is simply feedback and practice. You are simply getting a reward when your own brain activity is moving towards healthier functioning.
Practicing good brain health outside of your sessions is critical. Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Eat a balanced diet, with minimal processed food. Engage in regular aerobic exercise. Reduce screen time. Perform activities that stimulate the mind.
Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic is committed to working in a holistic and multi-modal approach. At times, this means combining brain training with other skill-based interventions (i.e., psychotherapy, educational therapy, mindfulness exercises, neurovisual training) in order to achieve maximum benefits.
We want you to feel comfortable and stable and be safe. Often, this means staying on medication, at least for the short term. A number of our clients make changes to medication after an initial period of neurofeedback. This is a decision that should be made with the medical professional prescribing your medication, but we are happy to speak with them to factor in progress made from neurofeedback. It is not uncommon for us to see that brain training makes clients more sensitive to medication effects.
Numerous follow-up studies have been conducted (specifically for ADHD, autism, and PTSD) to answer this very question. Post-training follow-up was conducted anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. All showed lasting gains, with several studies showing continued improvement 3-6 months after training ended.
Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic has observed similar patterns, in practice. However, it is important to note that, like most results, this is referencing the average. Some individuals have seen benefits that have lasted years, others need booster sessions. We work with you to make sure goals are being met. At times, this includes various at home training devices that can help maintain improvement. More sever cases or individuals with chronic problems typically require more sessions and more follow-up.
Until recently, neurofeedback has been published in specialized journals, and it is not taught in advanced professional training programs. In the last few years, there has been more, and better research published. Still, neurofeedback research, at times, is more expansive than what exists for various medical (e.g., medication) and psychological practices.
Healthy skepticism is an important part of taking a cautious approach to health care. However, not too long ago, neuroplasticity was also thought to be a myth. Research has shown that our brains are capable of change, which has opened the door to new solutions for many existing conditions. We closely follow research and evaluate the effectiveness of various therapeutic methods. We also recognize that it takes decades to organize conclusive scientific evidence. Some clients do not want to wait that long.
There are multiple neurofeedback providers all around The Bay. Some may be more conveniently located, and some may have lower fees. Below are a few reasons you should choose us:
- Our program is directed by Richard D. Abbey, Ph.D. and Rachael Little, MSc. Dr. Abbey is a Neuropsychologist formerly at Stanford and Board Certified in Neurofeedback (BCIA). Dr. Richard Abbey and Rachael Little have been doing Neurofeedback for nearly a decade, and they have led classes and given lectures at conferences all across the U.S.
- Our collaborative approach does not stop at assessments. We consult with other experts in the field and train many other neurofeedback treatment providers. We take a multi-modal approach to all cases.
- The brain is a complex organism Our EEG records your brain’s electrical activity at 19-sites and is reviewed by a board-certified neuropsychologist. We compare your EEG to a normative database matched for age and gender. This allows us to make a treatment plan unique to you.
- We take pride in understanding your difficulties. We take a comprehensive history, do pre and post measures if warranted, take a 19-channel EEG that is run through quantitative analysis, and most importantly, we factor in your observation to make sure you are receiving the most effecting training.
- We ask you what is considered a successful outcome, and we refer to these goals throughout your training sessions to make sure progress is being made.
- We will tell you if we can or cannot help. We will be upfront if there are other traditional or innovative therapies that might be a better fit. We acknowledge when neurofeedback is not effective.
- What does the research say? -
We want you to feel comfortable and informed when making the decision on whether neurofeedback is right for you. While there are general summaries of the latest research below for a few of the conditions we work with, we are happy to send prospective clients articles in electronic form. Let us know what you would like to learn about.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is associated with dysregulation within the frontal lobes, primary home of attention networks. Specifically, studies have shown that individuals with ADHD show decreased activity. (This is why stimulants are often prescribed to treat ADHD from a pharmaceutical route – to speed up these networks.) Research has demonstrated that neurofeedback improves attention, reduces impulsivity, and minimizes hyperactivity. This is consistent with treatment outcomes observed with our neurofeedback client population. Many clients with ADHD come see us because: medications are not helping (or helping enough), clients prefer not to use medication, clients would like to taper off medication, and/or clients are experiencing related neuropsychological weaknesses that often accompany ADHD (anxiety, low mood, frustration, and irritability).
The research on neurofeedback and anxiety and depression is still new. However, small studies have demonstrated reduction in anxious distress and healthier thought patterns through the use of EEG biofeedback. Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic recommends neurofeedback for anxiety and depression when traditional methods of treatment have not been fruitful (i.e., cognitive behavioral therapy) or clients are looking for alternatives beyond medication. It is important to note that neurofeedback does not take the place of individual or family therapy, as it is important to develop those skills. However, many clients have reported that through neurofeedback, anxiety and depression networks have been quieted, allowing from more effective psychotherapy sessions.
Preliminary studies show some improvement in social, emotional, and behavioral functioning with neurofeedback for Autism, Asperger’s, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Several studies showed changes in the brain that persisted 12-18 months post-training. Most treatment for ASD is long-term, but a majority of studies showed noticeable improvement within 3-5 months.
While we believe neurofeedback should be considered as a viable intervention for Autism, it is important to supplement with other skill-based training (depending on need and level of functioning), such as: behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, or speech and language therapy.
The research for neurofeedback and traumatic brain injury (TBI) is still very new. A handful of case studies have reported the effectiveness of neurofeedback in managing symptoms post-injury. However preliminary, results show that neurofeedback has potential to minimize impairments of executive function deficits, memory, and attention.
Abbey Neurosychology Clinic also offers other therapies (educational, physical, neurovisual) that can supplement rehabilitation post-TBI or concussion. Click here for more information.
Numerous studies suggest neurofeedback is a promising treatment option for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A recently completed randomized controlled study show very large benefits from 24 half hour neurofeedback sessions. Two studies have been completed with children. Existing interventions for PTSD have demonstrated limited effectiveness. While neurofeedback has shown to be helpful, psychotherapy should still be implemented in conjunction.