Neurotherapy is focused on changing the structure and activity of the brain. It has several similarities with conventional psychotherapy (for example, it usually requires a therapist), but it also has significant differences. It can mean different things to different people. The most crucial point is realizing that neurotherapy encompasses more than neurofeedback.
The definition of neurotherapy is comprehensive, with the two significant interpretations being “any form of therapy affecting the nervous system” and “any form of treatment of disease involving nerve tissue.”
What Is Neurotherapy?
Neurotherapy, also known as neurofeedback or EEG (electroencephalography) biofeedback, is a non-invasive technique that uses electromagnetic fields, pulses, and time-varying magnetic fields to alter brain function by stimulating nerve fibers or exciting specific regions or patterns of cerebral activity.
Brain stimulation can be used in three general ways:
- To improve an abnormal pattern of brain activity;
- For cognitive training; and
- To create new neural pathways between areas of the brain.
It comprises the evaluation component, where the brain’s electrical activity is recorded, and the training component, which is a method for helping brain activity reach the desired state.
What Are the Types of Neurotherapy?
Neurotherapy is based on the fact that our brains constantly send signals about their functions. There are many different types, but these seven methods have helped thousands of people alleviate symptoms and treat various disorders:
Frequency neurofeedback, also known as surface neurofeedback, is a technique that uses real-time visual and audio feedback to regulate brain activity by allowing a person to see and hear their brainwaves.
It is used to train specific brainwave patterns and is based on how cortical activity can be controlled by giving feedback from changes in electrical brain activity. Frequency neurofeedback has been used to help with various conditions, including anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and insomnia.
Slow cortical potential neurofeedback
Slow cortical potential neurofeedback (SCPNF) is a form of neurotherapy that trains subjects to control the large-scale electrical activity of the brain. These slow changes in electrical potential are not directly under voluntary control but are related to underlying neural networks associated with cognition, emotion, and behavior.
Because of this relationship, it is hypothesized that SCPNF can be used to treat disorders such as ADHD, epilepsy, and migraines.
Low-energy neurofeedback system (LENS)
Low-energy neurofeedback system (LENS) is a technique in which brain activity is modified by directly applying small amounts of electromagnetic energy to the scalp. It is a type of biofeedback that utilizes low-frequency electromagnetic signals to train the brain to improve its functional performance.
LENS treatment is based on the concept that an individual’s unique pattern of neurological activity can be used to identify and treat underlying brain function problems linked to specific disorders. It is a gentle, non-invasive treatment for depression, anxiety, chronic pain, learning difficulties, trauma, fibromyalgia, insomnia, and many other physical and psychological issues.
Hemoencephalography (HEG) neurofeedback
Hemoencephalography (HEG) neurofeedback is a feedback training method that measures changes in cerebral blood flow associated with brain activity.
The technique was developed to increase activity in the prefrontal cortex and has been used successfully to treat migraine headaches.
Live Z-score neurofeedback
Comparing individual test scores with those of a healthy population, Z-score neurofeedback provides valuable information about whether an individual’s performance is within normal limits or falls outside this range. It is used to treat insomnia.
Low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (LORE-TA)
Low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (LORE-TA) is a technique that reconstructs the current density within the head. Like EEG, it is non-invasive, although it does require a subject to wear a cap with 19 electrodes attached.
Unlike EEG, which measures the summed electrical activity within a region of the cortex, LORE-TA can measure the direction of current flow within the brain. This information about functional connectivity can be obtained and helps treat depression, addictions, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is an imaging method that uses magnetic fields to measure the blood flow in the brain. By analyzing changes in blood flow, therapists can determine which parts of the brain are active during a particular task.
How Does Neurotherapy Work?
There are essentially two broad groups that make up Neurotherapy. The first is feedback technology, which helps learn how to control brainwaves. The second is a simulation technology, which directly stimulates the brain with weak electrical currents.
A therapist or trained health care provider will attach electrodes to your scalp using a mild electrode paste. These electrodes are linked to an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine, which records the electrical activity in your brain.
The equipment shows you when your brainwaves are at a frequency associated with being relaxed, alert, and focused. During neurotherapy, electrical activity in your brain is measured and displayed on a computer monitor by sensors attached to your scalp with a paste. You can see the changes in your brain waves as they happen.
The goal of neurotherapy is to train you to make positive changes in your brain wave patterns while you’re relaxed and not receiving feedback from the sensors. You may notice positive changes in mood, behavior, and physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, pain, or headaches.
Neurotherapy sessions are usually 30–60 minutes long and are administered by trained health professionals. It is unclear how many sessions are needed, but it generally requires multiple sessions for treatment success — often 20 to 40 sessions over several months.
What Can Neurotherapy Help You With?
Neurotherapy is a non-invasive and drug-free approach to brain health that can help you live your best life. It has been used successfully to help people with the following symptoms:
- Dyslexia and dyscalculia, and other learning disabilities/disorders
- Drug addiction
- Anxiety and depression
- Headaches, migraines, and pain management
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Restless leg syndrome
Neurotherapy can help overcome eating disorders, fibromyalgia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and attention problems.
Benefits of Neurotherapy
The goal of neurotherapy is to help people train their brains to function at a more optimal level using audio and visual feedback. By using auditory tones or visual cues to indicate specific brain patterns, participants can learn how to get back on track when they veer off course. In doing so, people can teach themselves to regulate their own emotions and behaviors better.
It is a well-researched treatment modality with clinical studies over 60 years. It is a painless, non-invasive, drug-free approach to treating cognitive disorders like ADHD, learning disabilities, and depression.
Neurofeedback has been shown to produce long-term improvements in focus, concentration, and impulse control without the side effects associated with medication. In addition, it can help people sleep better at night and has proven beneficial for people suffering from stress.
Combined with counseling therapy, it can be even more effective in treating emotional issues, including depression and anxiety. In a nutshell, the benefits of neurotherapy are immense:
- Neurotherapy is not a treatment for any specific condition. It is a process that can help with all conditions
- It is usually part of a comprehensive treatment plan and works best when combined with other therapies
- Neurotherapy can be beneficial in reducing symptoms of any brain injury or trauma
- There are very few side effects, no drugs involved, and no pain…what’s not to like?
- Neurotherapy can help address the root cause of a problem rather than just the symptoms
- It can help you regain control over your mind and body
- The therapy itself is relaxing, non-invasive, and enjoyable
- It provides long-lasting benefits that continue after you stop seeing your therapist
- You will have more clarity, focus, and creativity in your life
- You can learn more about yourself and how your brain reacts/responds to stimuli
What Are the Things to Consider When Going for Neurotherapy?
If you are considering neurotherapy or neurofeedback treatment, it is essential to know that this treatment is not a standalone treatment from other treatments such as psychotherapy or medication. The best results are achieved if this treatment is used with other forms of treatment for behavioral issues and mental health disorders.
The first step to getting started with neurofeedback is to find a practitioner who can evaluate your symptoms to determine if neurofeedback is an appropriate treatment for you. Below are a few things that you should consider before moving forward with an appointment:
- What kind of problems do you want to solve? Is it an addiction, depression, or anxiety? Or do you want to live better and be happier?
- Which modalities are available in your area? Some modalities might be better than others if you have a specific problem.
- How much money are you able to spend on the therapy? Some modalities cost more than others.
- How long will the therapy take? Some modalities only require one session, while others require multiple sessions over a more extended time.
- Is this your first time doing Neurotherapy? If it is, then what are you expecting? Set realistic expectations, so you’re not disappointed if it’s not as effective as you want it to be on the first try.
Are There Any Side Effects of Neurotherapy?
Most people don’t experience any adverse side effects after neurotherapy treatment. This is because EEG Biofeedback is non-invasive, drug-free, and gentle to the brain. But like any change to your body or mind, it can cause some side effects. The most common side effects include:
- A headache
- Memory problems
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- Muscle cramps and ticks
Most of these side effects are temporary and should go away after a few days. If you’re worried about these symptoms, call your doctor right away.
Neurotherapy is a relatively new addition to the field of psychology. In the past decade, many studies have been undertaken regarding its efficacy and how it can be used to help patients with various forms of mental illness.
While neurotherapy has been widely used for less than a decade, its benefits seem clear and indisputable. As it gains more support, more research will be done, and we’ll learn just how effective this new treatment is.
If you have tried cognitive behavioral therapy and found it lacking, neurotherapy may be a viable alternative. Neurotherapy works to improve one’s mood via the use of neurofeedback technology. You can expect some pleasant surprises along the way regarding physical and mental well-being. The results are worth it, making neurotherapy worth a try.
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