- Is it called EEG biofeedback or neurofeedback?
- Neurofeedback is used synonymously with EEG biofeedback; however, neurofeedback and neurotherapy are a broader terms. Neurofeedback refers to any type of brain biofeedback including: HEG (blood flow), fMRI and MEG (electromagnetic waves). EEG biofeedback refers just to brainwave biofeedback. EEG (electroencephalography) is the recording of brainwave activity. In addition, insurance companies use EEG biofeedback for their CPT codes. However, colloquially, people use the term neurofeedback or neurotherapy interchangeably with EEG biofeedback.
- Is EEG biofeedback covered by insurance?
- There are insurance codes (CPT codes) for EEG biofeedback (EEG biofeedback is the term insurance companies use for neurofeedback). Unfortunately, there aren’t consistent requirements for reimbursement among states, insurance companies and individual policies. The best thing to do is to call your insurance company and ask whether it is covered. Even if it is not covered, most people feel that the benefits of EEG biofeedback are worth the out-of-pocket investment in their well-being.
- How much does an EEG biofeedback session cost?
- Many practitioners charge the same amount for an EEG neurofeedback session as they would for one of their therapy sessions. Rates vary greatly depending on geographic location and the credentials of the practitioners. Most providers offer reduced rates for committing to series of sessions. The best thing to do is call your local neurotherapist and ask them for their rates.
- Who is a good candidate for EEG biofeedback?
- Are you not getting the full results from medication or don’t like its side effects?
- Can you visualize what you want out of life, but consistently get derailed from negative self-talk, anxiety or fear?
- Do you wake up with negative feelings in the morning?
- Do you or your child have problems with focus or impulsivity?
- Did you ever suffer a concussion?
- Would you like a more restful night of sleep?
- Do you suffer from migraines or headaches?
- Did you ever suffer a trauma that keeps playing over and over in your head?
- Are you willing to commit to at least 2 EEG biofeedback sessions per week for the first 5-10 weeks?
- Can EEG niofeedback replace medication?
While under an MD’s supervision most people can either cut down or stop using their medication after successfully completing the required number of sessions.
- How many neurotherapy sessions will I need?
- Generally people notice improvements within the first 5-8 sessions, but this does not mean that you are finished. To achieve your goals and for longer lasting results 20-30 sessions are recommended.
- How does my brain learn by watching software?
Just as your brain makes sense of information being fed to it from gravity, it makes sense of the information being conveyed to it by the software. The brain is an organ that processes substantially more information than your mind could handle. Your mind can not even see, hear, smell, taste or consciously feel earth’s gravitational pull, yet your brain is constantly sending neural commands to muscles according to feedback it receives from gravity. Even though your mind wants to understand and even participate in your neurofeedback session, it is your brain that we are training.
- Does anything go into my brain?
No. Absolutely nothing goes into the brain. Sensors are put on the scalp to pick up electrical activity coming from your brain.
- How many sessions will I need?
Generally people notice improvements within the first 5-8 sessions, but this does not mean that you are finished. To achieve your goals and for longer lasting results 20-30 sessions are recommended. Children under the age of puberty typically get faster results and need less sessions.
- Can the brain rewire itself?
The answer: Yes.
In the past neuroscience viewed the human brain as a machine; if a function stopped working properly, then that function was permanently gone. It was believed that the human adult brain was incapable of fundamental change, hence, the proverb, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Now there is a growing body of research demonstrating that the brain can indeed rewire itself. Scientists have defined this phenomenon as neuroplasticity, also referred to as brain plasticity or brain malleability. These terms refer to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by building new neural connections. In other words, our brains are constantly changing in structure and function even as as we age.
Brain self-organization takes place with a few biological mechanisms. One of these mechanisms is called axonal sprouting. This is when healthy brain cells grow new nerve endings in order to compensate for damage. These new nerve endings serve to reconnect injured neurons forming new neural pathways to accomplish a needed function. For example, after a brain injury the unscathed parts of the brain may compensate for the functionality lost by the injured parts of the cortex. In order to reconnect, the neurons need to be stimulated and relearn functionality through activity.
Another biological mechanism involved in brain plasticity is called self-regulation. Every organ, including the brain, is wired for homeostasis. Homeostasis is the ability of an organism to self-regulate by adjusting its physiological processes. The purpose of this is to maintain internal equilibrium. The brain is continually sensing and responding to the needs of our bodies. For example, it is constantly monitoring our levels of oxygen and blood sugar levels. If the brain senses that something is wrong, then our stress-response system sounds an alarm to help the body get what it needs. Some of this regulation requires our participation (such as drinking water if we sense we are thirsty), but much of this regulation takes place automatically beyond our awareness.
One way to rewire the brain is with EEG biofeedback. EEG biofeedback, via software, gives the brain a way to see itself in action. The brain then learns how to better self-regulate its states of thoughts, feelings and arousal levels. EEG niofeedback works as if the computer screen is a mirror for the brain; it magnifies areas that are not working as efficiently as they could, and trains the brain to operate more effectively. The brain then reorganizes itself by forming new neural pathways or activating unused ones as it expands functionality. As with all abilities we develop, the gains made with EEG biofeedback are typically permanent.