In the past few years revolutionary advances in technology have enabled ever-finer windows into how the brain works. We can now measure in detail the underlying electrical and chemical mechanisms the brain uses to get its job done.
Advanced brain imaging techniques such as fMRI, PET, and SPECT scans, show us where in the brain different types of activity take place. As a result, we now have good maps of what happens where in the brain.
In the course of exploring where brain activity takes place, we’ve realized that experience changes brain structure. It is in fact continuously adapting – creating new neurons and new pathways in response to change – new experiences. Neuroscientists call the brain’s ability to change in response to experience “plasticity”, or more formally, “neuroplasticity”.
This discovery has transformed how we think about the brain. It is no longer thought of as a fixed set of unchangeable neurons, but rather as a dynamic, ever-changing, ever-adapting network.
As researchers advance their understanding of where activity takes place, other neuroscientists have sought the answer to a related question: What is the underlying principle of brain activity?
They are discovering that the essential mechanism of brain activity is feedback. Its very architecture is geared to provide feedback – the brain is really a giant feedback machine.
The most remarkable discovery has been that most of this feedback is generated internally. In many brain systems, neural networks devoted to internal feedback outnumber those devoted to external sensory input by 10 to 1. The brain spends the vast majority of its resources not on gathering external information but rather on interpreting its meaning.
Determining meaning is accomplished through patterns. Patterns are the language of the brain – it speaks to itself in the language of patterns. The brain is built to rapidly recognize patterns and then instantly pass along that recognition. This is the fundamental activity of our neural networks.
Because pattern-based feedback is the essential mechanism of brain activity, changes to your feedback patterns can have profound effects. Neurofeedback changes those patterns. More specifically, it disrupts dysfunctional patterns. It has been shown to be effective in treating:
- Spectrum Disorder
- Chronic Fatigue
- Learning Disabilities
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Panic Disorders
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Anxiety
- Sleep Disorders
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Neurofeedback is complementary to both pharmaceutical drugs and psychotherapy