A Look at Neurofeedback Therapy and the Brain

Treatments and strategies to boost cognitive performance

The brain is a phenomenal organ and is arguably the most complex thing that humans have discovered in the universe. This is because the brain contains over 100 billion neurons, each neuron connecting to another vast network that is responsible for our thoughts, feelings, actions, speech, and on and on and on…

In this month’s newsletter, we review neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback that focuses on self-control of brain functions and has been shown to improve a variety of brain-based challenges for many individuals. We also provide tips on how to improve brain function every day through natural methods, including diet, exercise and nutrition. Let’s March on!


Genius Foods

This New York Times best-selling book by health and science journalist Max Lugavere is all about how to take care of our brains for health longevity.

Product: Brain Games app

This app consists of 12 educational games that challenge the brain in fun ways that don’t seem like work! With three levels of difficulty, children from 3 years up to adults can reap the benefits of this educational tool.

For other product ideas that target improved sensory processing, oral motor and language skills, please ask to “shop” at CTC’s very own product table, located within our clinic!

Neurofeedback: The 411

An overview of this therapy approach

Continuously emerging research in the field of neuroscience indicates that the brain has the ability to change and adapt; the term for this phenomenon is neuroplasticity, and it may be a concept that you have read or have heard increasingly more about. Yet another term that you may have been exposed to is neurofeedback, which is often linked with neuroplasticity. But what exactly is it and how are the two concepts linked?

Neurofeedback, also known as electroencephalography (EEG), is a type of biofeedback that measures brain waves and provides feedback signals to teach self-control of brain functions. It has been gaining increasing attention and interest among the general population, especially considering its non-invasive approach to treating ADHD/ADD, anxiety, and sleep disorders, among other conditions. Neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize neural pathways (i.e., synaptic connections), is thought to be expedited through the process of neurofeedback.

Brain waves are electrical impulses in our brains. The faster these waves, the more focused and aware an individual is; the slower these waves, the more relaxed or detached we are. Brain wave patterns can become disrupted in mental health disorders. Anxiety disorders, for instance, are characterized by chronically fast brain waves, which can cause hyper-arousal and panic. ADHD/ADD is generally characterized by consistently slower brain waves, resulting in brain fog and difficulties with focus. Neurofeedback is intended to modulate dysregulated brain wave patterns to help individuals themselves feel more regulated.

During a neurofeedback therapy session, electrodes are placed on the patient’s scalp in order to measure their brain waves. When the EEG detects that a client’s brain waves are becoming more regulated based on their individual goals (e.g., a client with anxiety exhibits slower brain waves and a client with ADHD/ADD exhibits faster brain waves), the client is “rewarded” with a stimulus that the brain finds rewarding via audio-visual input. For example, when a client manifests the target brain waves, the screen they are watching may get bigger or brighter, or the music they are listening to may become more harmonious.

The purpose of this reinforcement is to get the patient to try to repeat their behavior in order to earn the reward. The brain naturally seeks rewards, so when it is continuously rewarded with positive feedback in response to generating the appropriate electrical signals, it is being trained to follow the neural pathway that will earn them the reward. This is where neuroplasticity comes in; with repeated exposure of stimuli in neurofeedback sessions, it is theorized that the brain will create new neural pathways that in this case, would benefit the individuals receiving treatment and relieve ailments of their condition.

Neurofeedback has been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of diagnoses, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Learning disabilities
  • Addictive behaviors
  • Epilepsy

Still unsure if neurofeedback is something you’re interested in pursuing? Talk to you or your child’s doctor about qualified professionals in your area, or seek further information from your CTC therapy provider.

St. Patrick’s Day Activities

Fun ways to participate in the luckiest holiday of the year!

Fruit Loops Rainbow

This easy to prepare and easy to make craft helps target fine motor skills and can be helpful in encouraging counting and sorting skills. Don’t be surprised at some sneaky snacking along the way!

Rainbow Finger Painting

Finger painting is great for tactile exposure. Talk about rainbows while engaging in this activity depending on your child’s learning level (i.e., naming colors, talking about how rainbows form, etc.).

Get Your Jig On!

Search YouTube for videos of Irish dancing and share them with your kids. It helps teach cultural customs and is a great excuse to get up and try dancing together!

Tips for Tip-Top Brain Health

Take care of your brain, and it will take care of you!

Tone down TV

The only leisure activity shown to reduce cognitive function is watching TV. Log a typical day of tv watching (it may surprise you!) and set limits on the amount of screen time that you and your child watch throughout the day – your brains are begging you!

Get your heart rate up

It should be no surprise that exercise is good for your brain. Cardiovascular exercise in particular has shown to be the most beneficial for brain function, but any form of exercise that increases heart rate will be beneficial.

Curb stress

Prolonged stress is toxic to the body and the brain; improve overall health by incorporating stress relievers into your daily routines. Deep breathing, meditation, warm baths and use of essential oils are just some methods to encourage a more peaceful state of mind.

Don’t undermine nutrition

Eating a diet based mostly on whole foods provides the brain with optimal nourishment. Research has pointed to the Mediterranean diet (i.e., olive oil, nuts, fish) as one that is particularly beneficial to brain health.

Get those Zzzzzzzs…

Good sleep is vital to brain plasticity. Create a bedtime routine that includes removing sleep disruptors and promotes a restful night.

Change up your routine

Routine activities do not challenge the brain, so change things up! Research new activities in your community that you and your family can participate in that will bring on some novel learning opportunities.

Stop blaming your genes

Neuroplasticity is to thank for allowing our brains to change and grow all life long, so do not underestimate the importance of lifestyle changes to improve the capacity of your noggin’!