Neurofeedback (NFB), also known as EEG biofeedback, or neurobiofeedback is a type of biofeedback that uses real time displays of electroencephalography to illustrate brain activity, often with a goal of controlling central nervous system activity. This type of study looks at the connection between neurobiology and psychology.
A common professional neurofeedback therapy session today goes as follows:
- An initial EEG intake takes about 90 minutes. The patient will get a questionnaire and a first EEG reading. The questionnaire specifies the complaints and also helps to indicate if the referral to a specialist might be called for. In some cases but not all a full EEG will be recorded.
- If a full EEG is called for, the EEG recording is typically done on 19 – 21 sites on the scalp. It results in a brain map (“quantitative EEG”). This is a series of maps (for each frequency one) where for each measured spot the average level of activity is shown. The brain map is compared to a database to determine spots of over- and under activity compared to the average people of the patient’s age and sex. There are several commercial providers of such databases.
- The actual session itself involves placing sensors on the head. The feedback may involve, for example, a simple light or tone or game that will move and play when certain brain activity is detected by the system. For other brain activity the rewarding tone, or light or game is taken away.
- At the beginning of each session the patient reports the course of his complaints and also mentions other mental effects. On the basis of this report the therapy may be adjusted. In some cases a patient is allowed to take a feedback machine home.