Neurofeedback and Anxiety

Neurofeedback has shown to be effective in reducing anxiety in children – not only in adults. It retrains the brain in a passive, non-invasive way and calms the nervous system. It teaches the brain to remain in an optimal zone. The American Pediatric Association recognizes neurofeedback as effective for children on the Autism Spectrum for the same reason that it is effective for dealing with anxiety; it keeps the brain working in an optimal zone. Neurofeedback training helps the brain create new neuropathways, bypassing those that no longer work.

Let me take you through an example. Sally, an eight year old was brought in to see me because she had a lot of trouble separating from her mother. She couldn’t go off to school without a lot of crying and clinging to mom nor could she be left at a friend’s birthday party and sleepovers at friend’s house; impossible. This behaviour is not typical of an eight year old and this anxiety was causing Sally distress and was interfering with many areas of her life.

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In he diagram above, the green wave shows brain activity that it is in the “optimal” zone. The waves lie within a certain range. The mauve wave has large fluctuations and shows the brain that is outside of the optimal range. In the case of Sally the mauve wave would indicate her “anxious” brain. What happens during neurofeedback, is that whenever Sally’s brainwaves go beyond the optimal level, the brain receives a signal (a slight interruption in the music that Sally is listening too) that tells the brain to return to the optimal range. This is creating a new neuropathway, letting the brain know that it needs to remain in the optimal zone. Each time that the brain is signaled to return to the optimal zone, the neuropathway is strengthened so that it learns to stay in this optimal zone on its own.

Imagine standing in a field of freshly fallen snow. The first time you make a path in snow, it is slow going and the path is just defined. You can see your footprints but the snow between each footprint is still in tact. Each time you pass over this same path, the snow gets more and more compact and the individual footprints eventually disappear. All that you see is a compact path through the snow. This is a similar to what happens in neurofeedback training.

During the neurofeedback sessions, each lasting 33 1/2 minutes, the child can read a book, or play a game on the computer while listening to music. The child can even watch a movie. The neurofeedback program does the rest. The child has 2 sensors attached to the head, which are used to read the signals on the surface of the brain. This information is processed through the neurofeedback system and the system sends signals back as it needs to. At no time are there any electrical impulses or any other signals going into the brain through the sensors. The only signal that the brain receives is in the interruption of the music or audio that the child is listening to.

I know that is sounds almost to good to be true but I have seen the results for myself. Neurofeedback works!

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