When using Neurofeedback training, the person has electrodes placed on his head and ears. The electrodes are simply reading the brain waves as is done with any EEG test, relaying to the computer the level of the brainwaves: Delta, theta, beta waves, and SMR (sensory motor rhythms). After having the electrodes placed on his head, the subject plays computer games.
The difference between Neurofeedback training and the usual playing of computer games is that, in the Neurofeedback training, the person does not use his hands to control the game. He uses his mind – his ability to focus and/or relax – to make the game function. He is not manipulating the direction of the game. He is controlling the speed at which the game functions.
As the person focuses:
1) The game begins to operate 2) The brain sees the progress 3) This immediate positive feedback tells the brain “This is working!” 4) The brain quickly makes adjustments to the brain wave pattern. As the brain lowers the theta waves and increases the beta waves, the game works even better. A positive feedback cycle begins.
As an example, if a person is playing Pac Man, the Pac Man only moves when the person is able to focus his attention. When a person with a normal brain wave pattern is concentrating on a task, he generally has low theta waves and high beta waves. The brain waves of the person with ADD are reversed. The ADD sufferer has high theta waves and low beta waves making it difficult for him to concentrate or stay focused on a task.
In order to get the Pac Man to move, the brain “learns” that it must lower the theta waves and increase the beta or SMR waves. As the person “attends to the task,” he is rewarded by the Pac Man picking up speed and eating the little balls. The brain receives immediate and positive feedback. On the other hand, if the person’s concentration slacks off, the Pac Man may slow down or stop. The brain instantly knows it must make adjustments to the theta and beta waves to make the Pac Man move. Through Neurofeedback training, the person trains his brain to “attend to” or “focus” on a specific task.
Neurofeedback training is a process of:
- Monitoring brainwave function
- Giving immediate feedback to the brain
- Allowing the brain to learn instantly
The brain then:
- Responds rapidly to needed changes rewarded by the feedback presented
- Controls the lowers or raises its individual brain waves (frequency or amplitude)
- Normalizes the brainwaves
- Achieves greater flexibility and facility in various frequencies and amplitudes
Autism/ADD Resources, Inc. explains, EEG Neurofeedback learning is a strategy that enables a person to alter his or her brain waves. This training helps to facilitate a quiet attention state. EEG Neurofeedback is very much like normal learning. Once the brain learns to regulate itself, it continues to do so.