Neurofeedback and Psychology

About Us

 

 


The NFB & Psychology Interest Group aims to:

  • To promote theoretical developments, research and practice related to Neurofeedback therapy.
  • To enhance the professional identity of Neurofeedback practitioners with the Society and establish and maintain a linking mechanism for researchers and practitioners in this field throughout Australia.
  • To provide a network within the Society for members with an interest in Neurofeedback from theoretical, clinical, and research perspectives.
  • To provide a forum for discussion, peer contact, and review, and for information sharing between people (Society Members and others) interested in Neurofeedback and its relationship with the general body of psychology theory and practice.

Why NFB & Psychology?

Neurofeedback is a treatment modality of particular relevance to psychologists: the brain is the primary organ contributing to the emotions, somatic symptoms, thoughts and behaviours, for which people seek psychological support. 

Neurofeedback employs learning principles to moderate the systemic levels of brain rhythms associated with arousal, affect and attention. Scientific research has shown that atypical brain rhythms contribute to lack of wellness, and there is an increasing level of evidence relating such dysfunctional rhythms to a variety of conditions, principally, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and sleep difficulties. Promising research exists in the use of Neurofeedback for Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety and other areas.

Frank Duffy, a noted Harvard Neurologist, reviewed the literature and wrote an editorial for Clinical EEG and Neuroscience Journal (2000):

"The literature, which lacks any negative study of substance, suggests that (EEG biofeedback) should play a major therapeutic role in many difficult areas ... if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy, it would be universally accepted and widely used."

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History of Neurofeedback

By Moshe Perl, PhD, MAPS, member APS College of Clinical Psychologists and APS College of Forensic Psychologists

Neurofeedback, variously known as EEG Biofeedback, or Neurotherapy, is a form of biofeedback.  Biofeedback is a straightforward procedure:  For example, if you want to raise the temperature in your finger, all you need is a thermometer that is sensitive enough to show temperature fluctuations, in this case, 0.1 degrees.  Almost all people will be able to raise the temperature in their finger by several degrees within 15 minutes.  With practice a person can become proficient in this ability, which can be very useful for people who tend to have cold extremities.  Neurofeedback is an extension of biofeedback to the training of the Electroencephalogram (EEG) or brainwaves.

The first experiments in neurofeedback were actually done on cats, in a neurophysiology lab1.  Barry Sterman (UCLA) demonstrated that the EEG of cats can be conditioned .  Using the operant conditioning paradigm, he rewarded the cats for producing a 14hz EEG rhythm across their motor strip, and the amplitude of the EEG increased; he then rewarded the cats for producing less EEG at the same spot, and they did; and lastly, he rewarded the cats for producing more EEG at the same spot, and they did.

This was an interesting result, but did not launch the field until Sterman serendipitously discovered that these same cats, trained to produce a 14hz rhythm across their sensory-motor strip, resisted seizures.  Sterman investigated this phenomenon and concluded that the EEG training reduced seizure activity significantly2,3.

Over the next ten years4,5,6,7,8,9,10, Professor Sterman researched the effects of neurofeedback on humans with intractible seizures, most of whom were waiting for split brain surgery.  He trained them to produce a 14hz rhythm on their motor strip in the dominant hemisphere.  The seizure sufferers received  large numbers of training sessions (in the hundreds).  The results summarised in a later paper3 indicated that 82% demonstrated significant (>30%) seizure reduction, with an average reduction exceeding 50%; studies reported reduction in seizure severity, with about 5% of subjects showing complete control of seizures for up to one year, even when anticonvulsants were reduced or entirely withdrawn.

Following this very significant success with one of the most severe disturbances in brain function, researchers began to notice that various other symptoms changed for the better as a result of neurofeedback training11,12.  They noted improvements in hyperactivity, sleep and mood.  Also, many of the seizure patients had developed seizures as a result of traumatic brain injury, and their condition improved nevertheless.

Professor Joel Lubar, University of Tennessee, began treating children with ADHD and found that Neurofeedback was effective in reducing their symptoms11,12,13,14,15,16 .  His work has been developed and expanded by many other researchers.  To date at least 89 papers have been published in this area.  A comprehensive Neurofeedback bibliography of professional papers on Neurofeedback and ADHD, as well as other disorders, can be found on the website of the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research - isnr.org, the professional organization of neurofeedback practitioners17.  Of these, 11 involve comparisons with control groups, 39 involve group outcome studies, 16 are single case studies and 23 are review and theoretical articles.  The dependent variables in the group studies are quite diverse, and include parent report18,19,20, continuous performance tests20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29, changes in IQ scores16,23,30,31, EEG and event related potential changes32,33,34, and fMRI changes35,36, to name some.  Meta-analyses of the outcome studies indicate that improvement rates for Neurofeedback treatment of ADHD are in the 70-80%  range37

Today, Neurofeedback is being used successfully to treat a wide variety of disorders, including PTSD, anxiety, addictions, Autistic Spectrum disorders, depression, ADHD, and epilepsy, as well as being used in Peak Performance training.  For a full listing, please see the Neurofeedback bibliography, mentioned above17.

Frank H. Duffy, M.D., Professor and Pediatric Neurologist at Harvard Medical School, stated in an editorial in the January, 2000 issue of the journal Clinical Electroencephalography that the professional literature suggests that neurofeedback should play a major therapeutic role in many difficult areas. "In my opinion, if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy it would be universally accepted and widely used" (p. v). "It is a field to be taken seriously by all" (p. vii).

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References

  1. Roth, S. R., Sterman, M. B., & Clemente, C. D. (1967). Comparison of EEG correlates of reinforcement, internal inhibition and sleep. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 23, 509-520.
  2. Sterman, M. B. (1972). Studies of EEG biofeedback training in man and cats. In: Highlights of 17th Annual Conference: VA Cooperative Studies in Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, 50-60.
  3. Sterman, M. B. (2000). Basic concepts and clinical findings in the treatment of seizure disorders with EEG operant conditioning. Clinical Electroencephalography, 31(1), 45-55.
  4. Sterman, M. B., & Friar, L. (1972). Suppression of seizures in epileptics following sensorimotor EEG feedback training. Electroencephalography & Clinical Neurophysiology, 33, 89-95.
  5. Sterman, M. B. (1973a). Neurophysiological and clinical studies of sensorimotor EEG biofeedback training: Some effects on epilepsy. Seminars in Psychiatry, 5(4), 507-525.
  6. Sterman, M. B. (1973b). Neurophysiological and clinical studies of sensorimotor EEG biofeedback training: Some effects on epilepsy. Chapter in L. Birk (Ed.), Biofeedback: Behavioral Medicine. New York: Grune & Stratton, pp. 147-165.
  7. Sterman, M. B., Macdonald, L. R., & Stone, R. K. (1974). Biofeedback training of the sensorimotor electroencephalogram rhythm in man: Effects on epilepsy. Epilepsia, 15(3), 395-416.
  8. Sterman, M. B. (1977). Sensorimotor EEG operant conditioning: Experimental and clinical effects. Pavlovian Journal of Biological Sciences, 12(2), 63-92.
  9. Sterman, M. B., & Macdonald, L. R. (1978). Effects of central cortical EEG feedback training on incidence of poorly controlled seizures. Epilepsia, 19(3), 207-222.
  10. Sterman, M. B., & Shouse, M. N. (1980). Quantitative analysis of training, sleep EEG and clinical response to EEG operant conditioning in epileptics. Electroencephalography & Clinical Neurophysiology, 49, 558-576.
  11. Lubar, J. F., & Shouse, M. N. (1976). EEG and behavioral changes in a hyperactive child concurrent with training of the sensorimotor rhythm (SMR): A preliminary report. Biofeedback & Self-Regulation, 1(3), 293-306.
  12. Lubar, J. F., & Shouse, M. N. (1977).Use of biofeedback in the treatment of seizure disorders and hyperactivity. Advances in Clinical Child Psychology, 1, 204-251.
  13. Shouse, M. N., & Lubar, J. F. (1979). Operant conditioning of EEG rhythms and Ritalin in the treatment of hyperkinesis. Biofeedback & Self-Regulation, 4(4), 299-311.
  14. Rasey, H. W., Lubar, J. E., McIntyre, A., Zoffuto, A. C., & Abbott, P. L. (1996). EEG biofeedback for the enhancement of attentional processing in normal college students. Journal of Neurotherapy, 1(3), 15-21.
  15. Lubar, J. O., & Lubar, J. F. (1984). Electroencephalographic biofeedback of SMR and beta for treatment of attention deficit disorders in a clinical setting. Biofeedback & Self-Regulation, 9, 1-23.
  16. Lubar, J. F., Swartwood, M. O., Swartwood, J. N., & O'Donnell, P. H. (1995). Evaluation of the effectiveness of EEG neurofeedback training for ADHD in a clinical setting as measured by changes in T.O.V.A., scores, behavioral ratings, and WISC-R performance. Biofeedback & Self-Regulation, 20(1), 83-99.
  17. Hammond, Corydon. (2009) Comprehensive Neurofeedback Bibliography in isnr.org Website of the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research.
  18. Linden, M., Habib, T., & Radojevic, V. (1996). A controlled study of the effects of EEG biofeedback on cognition and behavior of children with attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities. Biofeedback & Self-Regulation, 21(1), 35-49.
  19. Monastra, V. J., Monastra, D. M., & George, S. (2002). The effects of stimulant therapy, EEG biofeedback, and parenting style on the primary symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 27(4), 231-249.
  20. Monastra, V. J., Monastra, D. M., & George, S. (2002). The effects of stimulant therapy, EEG biofeedback, and parenting style on the primary symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 27(4), 231-249.
  21. Egner, T., & Gruzelier, J. H. (2004).EEG biofeedback of low beta band components: Frequency-specific effects on variables of attention and event-related brain potentials. Clinical Neurophysiology, 115(1), 131-139.
  22. Kaiser, D. A., & Othmer, S. (2000). Effect of Neurofeedback on variables of attention in a large multi-center trial. Journal of Neurotherapy, 4(1), 5-15.
  23. Lubar, J. F., Swartwood, M. O., Swartwood, J. N., & O'Donnell, P. H. (1995). Evaluation of the effectiveness of EEG neurofeedback training for ADHD in a clinical setting as measured by changes in T.O.V.A. scores, behavioral ratings, and WISC-R performance. Biofeedback & Self-Regulation, 20(1), 83-99.
  24. Monastra, V. J., Lynn, S., Linden, M., Lubar, J. F., Gruzelier, J., & LaVaque, T. J. (2005). Electroencephalographic biofeedback in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 30(2), 95-114.
  25. Putnam, J. A., Othmer, S. F., Othmer, S., & Pollock, V. E. (2005). TOVA results following interhemispheric bipolar EEG training. Journal of Neurotherapy, 9(1), 37-52.
  26. Scheinbaum, S., Zecker, S., Newton, C. J., & Rosenfeld, P. (1995 ). A controlled study of EEG biofeedback as a treatment for attention-deficit disorders. In "Proceedings of the 26th Annual Meeting of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback" pp. 131-134.
  27. Rossiter, T. R., & La Vaque, T. J. (1995). A comparison of EEG biofeedback and psychostimulants in treating attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders. Journal of Neurotherapy, 1, 48-59.
  28. Rossiter, T. R. (2004). The effectiveness of neurofeedback and stimulant drugs in treating AD/HD: Part I. Review of methodological issues. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 29(2), 135-140.
  29. Rossiter, T. R. (2005). The effectiveness of neurofeedback and stimulant drugs in treating AD/HD: Part II.Replication. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 29(4), 233-243.
  30. Tansey, M. A. (1991). Wechsler (WISC-R) changes following treatment of learning disabilities via EEG biofeedback in a private practice setting. Australian Journal of Psychology, 43, 147-153.
  31. Carter, J. L., & Russell, H. L. (1991). Changes in verbal performance IQ discrepancy scores after left hemisphere frequency control training: A pilot report. American Journal of Clinical Biofeedback, 4(1), 66-67.
  32. Egner, T., & Gruzelier, J. H. (2001). Learned self-regulation of EEG frequency components affects attention and event-related brain potentials in humans. NeuroReport, 12, 4155-4159.
  33. Kropotov, J. D., Grin-Yatsenko, V. A., Ponomarev, V. A., Chutko, L. S., Yakovenko, E. A., & Nikishena, I. S. (2007). Changes in EEG spectograms, event-related potentials and event-related desynchronization induced by relative beta training in ADHD children. Journal of Neurotherapy, 11(2), 3-11.
  34. Kropotov, J. D., Grin-Yatsenko, V. A., Ponomarev, V. A., Chutko, L. S., Yakovenko, E. A., Nildshena, I. S. (2005). ERPs correlates of EEG relative beta training in ADHD children. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 55(1), 23-34.
  35. Levesque, J., Beauregard, M., & Mensour, B. (2006). Effect of neurofeedback training on the neural substrates of selective attention in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Neuroscience Letters, 394(3), 216-221.
  36. Beauregard, M & Levesque, J (2006). Functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation of the effects of neurfeedback training on the neural bases of selective attention and response inhibition in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 31(1) 3-20.
  37. Nash, J. K. (2000). Treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder with neurotherapy. Clinical Electroencephalography , 31(1), 30-37.

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What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback or EEG Biofeedback, is a specialised field of biofeedback with more than 30 years of research and clinical applications. Neurofeedback is based on a simple concept: if you can sense it, the brain can learn from it ...

Neurofeedback is a bottom-up technique in which the subject receives moment-to-moment feedback of EEG rhythms from a range of functioning brain systems, including those associated with arousal, attention and affective state. This process challenges the brain to modify itself via neuroplastic changes, and produce healthier brain patterns consistent with improved flexibility and stability. This leads to positive change in physical, emotional and cognitive states, and can lay the foundation for more effective application of top down interventions such as psychotherapy and CBT.

Neurofeedback has also been used in the field of peak mental performance with, for example, professional athletes and business executives. The purpose, is to realize and enhance mental potential leading to higher achievement and greater satisfaction.

What does Neurofeedback training look like?

Neurofeedback also known as EEG Biofeedback training, is a non-invasive procedure. In this process, one or more sensors are placed on the scalp, and one to each ear. The brain waves are monitored by means of an amplifier and a computer-based instrument that processes the signal providing proper feedback, which is displayed to the trainee by means of a video game or other video display along with audio signals. The trainee is then asked to modify the video game or do an exercise with it via his own brain wave action. This results in activity in a desirable frequency band to increase, by making the video game move faster or change, as visual and auditory rewards are given, while activity in a non-desired band increases, the video game is inhibited. Gradually, the brain responds to the cues that it is being given and a "learning" of new brain wave patterns takes place. This new pattern then assimilates to what is normally observed in individuals without the difficulty, making this process an operant conditioning exercise.

 

 

The operant learning principles of Neurofeedback

The brain is adaptable and learns, so it can learn to improve its performance if given cues about what to change; so by making information available of its functioning and asking it to make adjustments, it can learn to do so. When the brain is able to self-regulate and the person is alert and attentive, the brain waves show a particular pattern and by maintaining this "high-performance" and attentive state, gradually the brain learns this adjustment and like with other learning through neuroplastic changes, the brain also learns to retain the new skill. It is observed that if the EEG is atypical in certain parts of the brain associated with certain cognitive states, like being inattentive for example, there may be adverse impacts on the learning ability, mood and behaviour. With training, these may be gradually modified which is reflected in the adjustments of the EEG and observed as behavioural changes, like in this case, a shift towards improved attention, focusing and sustainability of this focusing.

ACCESS an Introductory Presentation here

Quantitative Electroencephalography (QEEG) and Event Related Potential (ERP) evaluations as tools to assist determine Neurofeedback protocols

Since its inception, some Neurofeedback members have continued to train further through the assistance of our American and European mentors, and a number of our Australian APS members also offer Quantitative Electroencephalography (QEEG), and Event Related Potentials evaluations to drive some Neurofeedback interventions. ”

What is a QEEG evaluation?

‘Quantitative’ EEG (QEEG) is the analysis of the digitized EEG averaged over a time period, and in lay terms this is often called “Brain Mapping”. The QEEG is an extension of the visual raw EEG analysis which assists and increases our understanding of the EEG and brain function.

In practice, a QEEG involves placing a 19 channel electrode “cap” over the client’s head which captures the EEG recording or brainwaves (electrical patterns at the surface of the scalp which reflect cortical activity), and sends it to a computer. Once the cap is fitted and the signal is clear, a 5-10 minute ‘Eyes Open’ condition, followed by a 5-10 minute ‘Eyes Closed’ condition is recorded.  This multi-channel EEG data is then processed with various algorithms for example, “Wavelet” analysis which enables the clinician to see amplitudes of specific frequency bandwidths. The digital data is statistically analysed, comparing values with “normative” database reference values. The processed EEG is then commonly converted into colour maps of brain functioning called topographic “Brain” maps. The EEG and the derived QEEG information can be interpreted and used as a clinical tool to evaluate brain function, and to track its changes due to various interventions such as Neurofeedback therapy or medication.

 

 

  

What is Event-Related Potential (ERP) analysis?

 

Quantitative Electroencephalography (QEEG) processing techniques and the use of modern analytic software to process the EEG/QEEG, also allows to view dynamic changes taking place throughout the brain during cognitive processing tasks.  This approach can be used to determine brain areas engaged in processing information, by comparing the event related potentials (ERPs) of the client to a normative database.

ERP studies are based on similar principle as QEEG studies, however, ERPs challenge the brain to respond to specific environmental challenges, for example, to detect differences between images, sounds, or watch the brain as it solves problems helping clinicians to determine how well the brain performs basic functions. The use of advanced techniques such as Independent Component Analysis (ICA) and neuro-imaging techniques such as Low Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography (LORETA), can map the actual sources of the cortical rhythms, to assist in understanding of the dynamics and function of the human brain, and also to assist to drive intervention protocols.

 

 

 

 

 

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