How Does Neurofeedback Work?

The science behind neurofeedback is relatively simple. By providing feedback in one form or another, brain waves, and thus neural activity, can be trained to increase or decrease, depending on the goal of therapy. This is achieved by “reinforcing” the brain when it is producing the desired patters of activity.

For example, in neurofeedback for ADHD, one of the goals is to reduce theta wave activity, because theta waves are shown to be abnormally high in those suffering from ADHD.   At the same time, another goal is to increase beta waves, which are shown to be less frequent than normal in those with attention problems.

In practice this typically means that the user watches a video matched appropriately for age. The beautiful thing about neurofeedback is that any type of video can be used for training purposes, making the session fun and engaging for people of all ages. So, let’s assume that a 10 year old diagnosed as having ADHD is watching a fun video.

When his brain wave patterns are in the training range, in this case lower theta and higher beta, the video plays. When the child’s brain produces a different brainwave activity, the video stops playing. With repeated practice, brain activity is shaped by this training and achieves the “normal” beta/theta ratios symptomatic of normal brain function.