Neurofeedback is a revolutionary new treatment for ADHD, using cutting-edge medical technology that we utilize at ATTN Center. The process is non-invasive and avoids the need for medication. It does this by helping the brain rewire itself in the places where it needs regulation. Many patients report improved ADHD symptoms within weeks, and the entire process only takes a few months. Compare that to a lifetime of having to take medication, especially when addictive stimulant medication is used to treat ADHD. You can avoid the side effects of ADHD medication thanks to Neurofeedback Training provided by our specially trained clinicians.
What is Neurofeedback?
This remarkable technology was originally developed by NASA to monitor the brainwaves of astronauts in space. Today, we can apply Neurofeedback clinically, using advanced computers and special electrodes placed on the scalp, in order to help regulate the brain’s electrical activity. Neurofeedback involves the training of brain wave function to create a more efficient, stable brainwave and nervous system state.
The International Society for Neurofeedback & Research (ISNR) defines NFB as using “monitoring devices to provide moment-to-moment information to an individual on the state of their physiological functioning”. Neurofeedback is guided by a Qualitative Electroencephalogram or qEEG. A qEEG is an assessment tool that allows clinicians to see a physical representation of your brainwave activity as reported by the brain’s electrical activity. After completing treatment, patients report increased feelings of well-being and mental clarity.
Who can benefit from Neurofeedback Training?
At the ATTN Center, we primarily focus on using neurofeedback to treat ADHD. However, Neurofeedback can also be used on individuals with sleep irregularities, anxiety, depression, trauma (PTSD), and more. Neurofeedback training is a way to proactively and directly train brainwave activity. This training allows brainwaves to change their activity so that they are more reflective of a brainwave pattern free of unwanted symptoms. Anything that is controlled by the brain can theoretically be regulated by Neurofeedback. And basically, everything in the body is controlled by the brain. So, essentially Neurofeedback could be used to treat nearly all mental, emotional, and physical issues. Ranging from Autism Spectrum Disorder to Arthritis.
How does Neurofeedback work?
Through repetition, over the course of multiple sessions, Neurofeedback for ADHD facilitates the brain to train itself on how to tell the problem areas how to regulate themselves. Through a phenomenon called Neuroplasticity, where scientific research has taught us that the brain can change itself, new, healthier brain activity patterns are created over time, repairing and replacing the imbalanced or damaged areas of the brain. Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback. But generally speaking, when people refer to biofeedback, they are referring to work on the muscles/physical body below the neck, and not the head/brain.
Neurofeedback and the Brain
With Neurofeedback, EEG brain waves are monitored by a silver-silver/chloride electrode cap. Each of the electrode sensors gives a different EEG reading. Forty areas of the brain have been mapped and labeled for the most general description of brain regions within Neurofeedback. These 40 areas are known as Broadmann Areas. Within the Broadmann Areas, we use the 10-20 Site model, in conjunction with the Electro-Cap. The brain map is a graphical representation of brainwave activity. This graphical representation of a qEEG reading is a more useful way for clinicians to share your specific data with you. As well as to develop an NFB training protocol specific to your brain.
After this, a protocol file is created on the computer by the clinician based on the patient’s brain map, individually tailored to the patient’s unique brain activity. This protocol is run on computers to train the patient’s brain waves through conditioning. Similar to the classic Pavlov’s Dogs example, for 20 sessions per protocol. Most patients complete 40-60 sessions of Neurofeedback during the course of their treatment. Audio and visual stimuli serve as the feedback with which to condition the brain. The brain automatically recognizes the sound, flashing screen, or game as a reward and like a magnet learns to obtain more and more rewards as time goes on. Eventually, the brain learns how to regulate itself and with time and enough sessions no longer needs the reward/stimulus to function in an optimal state.
Is Neurofeedback effective?
Neurofeedback is a learning process for the brain. But do the results of Neurofeedback remain long after the process has ended? The research tells us that the answer is: Yes. A study by Dr. Cory Hammond in 2011 followed up with ADHD clients 10 years after being trained with Neurofeedback. He found that 80% of clients trained reported lasting improvements in ADHD symptoms. And in 2014, The Board of Pediatrics concluded that Neurofeedback is as effective a treatment for ADHD as medication.
So why isn’t Neurofeedback more prevalent in the medical community like medication as a treatment option for ADHD? One reason is that in order to practice Neurofeedback, the clinician has to be both a licensed therapist and certified in Neurofeedback. Both certification processes take many years to complete, and there aren’t many therapists who are also experts in neuroscience and computers/technology. Both of these are required skills in order to perform Neurofeedback for ADHD appropriately and effectively. Another reason Neurofeedback for ADHD is not as well-known as the medication is because it is in direct competition with the pharm.
Neurofeedback vs Biofeedback
A common misinterpretation is that Neurofeedback and Biofeedback are the same exact thing. While both have shared similarities and are effective in their own way, there are many differences between the two. Neurofeedback is a form of Biofeedback and is sometimes referred to as Neuro-Biofeedback. Biofeedback is defined by the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA) as “a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance.”
Biofeedback uses a similar mechanism for reward as Neurofeedback. Instead of rewarding brainwave balance like Biofeedback, Neurofeedback rewards improvements in a desired physiological function. Biofeedback is commonly used to improve the heart rate/BPM (beats per minute), muscle tension, skin temperature, etc. The client is rewarded when they are able to
achieve the desired reduction in heart rate/beats per minute, reduced muscle tension, increase in hand temperature, etc. With Neurofeedback, improvements are achieved with operant conditioning, where the patient is rewarded for either decreasing or increasing a brain wave frequency that is out of balance until the balance is achieved. This is done by providing the brain with auditory and visual feedback, either a sound or flashing screen, while watching relaxing visuals or some type of relaxing game for the brain to follow on screen.
Unlike other types of biofeedback, Neurofeedback targets your Central Nervous System, specifically cortical brain waves. Neurofeedback provides your brain with spontaneous feedback. This feedback targets brain waves that are likely too strong or too weak, which can be the source of unwanted symptoms.
Types of Neurofeedback
At the ATTN Center, we offer several different types of Neurofeedback Training. The type that best suits a patient’s needs is decided upon by the Neurofeedback clinician, after reviewing the patient’s brain maps and discussing the patient’s symptoms. The most popular types of Neurofeedback are 1) Frequency Neurofeedback, 2) LORETA Neurofeedback, and3) Z-Score Neurofeedback.
The most commonly used form of neurofeedback is frequency/power neurofeedback. Two to four electrodes are hooked up to a specific site on the head that has been shown to be problematic on the patient’s brain maps. At the sites, specific brainwaves/frequencies are chosen to be uptrained or down trained. This is dependent on whether the patient is producing too little or too much of a specific brainwave. Once these frequencies have been regulated after Neurofeedback training, most clients report reduced symptoms of why they sought out treatment in the first place. Such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, sleep, etc.
A more intense version of neurofeedback is LORETA neurofeedback. LORETA incorporates frequency/power neurofeedback into it and includes a few more elements. Traditional frequency/power neurofeedback reads brainwaves being emitted at the surface of the scalp/cortex and bases treatment on this. LORETA (low-resolution electromagnetic tomography) uses an algorithm to convert raw surface EEG signals into 3D LORETA images. This creates a 3D depiction of the brain, allowing treatment to go beyond surface training and target areas not discovered by surface-level treatment. The brain is more accurately defined into 3D regions, such as the amygdala, thalamus, hippocampus, and cerebellum. On top of training the frequency/power of these brain regions, LORETA neurofeedback also helps train something called coherence and phase.
Rather than focusing on the activation/inhibition of brain waves like frequency/power training does, coherence focuses on the amount of communication happening between different regions of the brain. All the different regions of the brain (amygdala, thalamus, etc.) communicate with each other. Sometimes they are communicating too much or too little with each other. LORETA neurofeedback can detect problem areas of coherence and help train them towards balanced communication and synchronicity.
Phase refers to the ability and speed of energy in one part of the brain to move and arrive at another part of the brain in a timely manner to complete a specific task. Someone who has OCD experiences phase issues. They get stuck on a task and are unable to complete it in a timely matter because the phase is out of sync. By regulating phase through LORETA neurofeedback, the brain can learn to function in a more efficient manner reducing symptoms related to phase dysfunction.
The combination of frequency/power training, coherence training, and phase training make LORETA neurofeedback a very powerful intervention.
Brainwaves are compared to a normative database of brainwaves (a group of people of the same gender and age as the client who doesn’t suffer from any form of ADHD, OCD, Depression, Sleep disorders, etc.) and trained towards this normative database. The training happens through operant conditioning. You sit and relax while watching a movie or TV show during the sessions. Then your brain is rewarded every time your brain functioning is closer to the norm. The reward is the screen staying bright.
When your brain is not doing what we’re conditioning it to do, it deviates from the norm. So there is no reward, and the screen goes dim. This is visual feedback. There is also auditory feedback playing in the background, sending signals to your brain when you are achieving the desired criteria, and changes in tone when your brain is not meeting the protocol criteria. Over time and with enough sessions, the brain learns how to regulate and obtain more rewards- making the screen become brighter and brighter. In most cases, once brain regulation is learned, the brain no longer needs the screen and sessions to function optimally.
Sample Brain Maps
The sample brain maps below show the changes in brainwave activity after 20 sessions. Optimal functioning is when there isn’t any color on the brain map. So a reduction in symptoms means the brain would be completely blank. No one has a perfectly regulated brainwave pattern. However, Neurofeedback Training helps reduce severe symptoms wherever they are located in the brain. Such as those represented in orange on the brain maps.
As you can see on Map 2, the Alpha brainwave activity, which we associate with regulating symptoms of Depression, is reduced to yellow. Which is a shift from 3 standard deviations away from the goal (represented by orange), to 2 standard deviations away (represented by yellow). With another round of treatment in those same areas, we would expect to see improvements to 1 standard deviation away from the goal. Or possibly even having reached the goal by the end of 40 sessions total. Most ADHD patients do 40-60 sessions by the end of their treatment.
Sample Brain Maps, before and after 20 sessions:
Begin Neurofeedback Therapy in New York
If you are struggling with managing your ADHD symptoms and are feeling stuck, neurofeedback therapy in NYC may be the perfect answer! Retrain your brain using the latest cutting-edge technology with the guidance of our trained therapists at ATTN Center!
We are here to guide you through the process, to help mitigate the negative aspects of ADHD symptoms, and to help you tap into the strengths and benefits of ADHD in order to use it as your superpower! Below is a list of simple steps to follow to get started on this journey:
- Learn more about our team and the services offered here!
- Reach out to us through our convenient online therapy contact page here!
- Begin the journey to understanding your diagnosis and living your best life!
Other ADHD Services Offered by The ATTN Center in NYC
We not only offer neurofeedback therapy, but also other services related to the treatment of ADHD and its side effects. This includes therapy for ADHD-related anxiety and depression, group therapy, and ADHD testing options. At ATTN Center of NYC, we do everything in our power to treat ADHD without the use of medication through our ADHD-focused therapy services. But we understand in some severe cases additional measures may be needed. As a result, we also maintain close relationships with many of NYC’s best psychiatrists.