What is neurofeedback?

Throughout the day, your brain activity changes as you focus on a task, daydream and even sleep. If you have a condition like anxiety, depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), your brain activity can jump around, making it difficult to stay focused. This can make working, sleeping and other activities extremely challenging.

Neurofeedback, sometimes called neurobiofeedback or neurotherapy, is a type of therapy that lets you watch your own brain waves in real time and teaches you to control your symptoms and stay focused.

Using videogames to heal

During neurofeedback, you will wear special headgear that attaches to a machine that reads the brain's electrical impulses. Certain types of brain activity, like intense focus (or lack of focus), cause the brain to make very specific wave patterns. The machine will also be connected to a screen that shows the waves of activity.

First, you'll watch the patterns your brain is making. Then, the screen will switch to show a series of simple games that require focused brain activity. Playing these games helps you train your brain to focus.

You may still need medicine to help manage some conditions, but studies suggest that using neurofeedback can help.

Training your brain to relieve symptoms

Neurofeedback can help you train your thoughts and emotions, which can help treat many different conditions that make it hard to focus. These might include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Insomnia
  • Asperger's or mild autism

Some people feel like their thoughts are fuzzy or foggy when undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. Neurofeedback can help maintain focus during treatment. It can also help you stay focused if you're dealing with chronic physical pain from conditions like fibromyalgia or migraines.

Neurofeedback can also help recover brain function after a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Talk to your doctor to see if neurofeedback is an option for you.


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