The term Neurofeedback is a general term for brain-based (EEG) biofeedback. However, there are many different types of neurofeedback, each with it’s own method of assessment, targeted brain states, treatment and sets of outcomes. Click here to learn about the specific conditions we treat.
Below are some descriptions of the various types of neurofeedback interventions offered at Neurofeedback Services of New York.
Infraslow Fluctuation or ISF neurofeedback is a unique brain training method that targets the infraslow frequencies (meaning below 0.1 Hertz) occurring throughout the brain. Clinical research shows that these slow oscillations determine the overall excitability of the cortex. In addition, these slow frequencies coordinate processes in the body with processes in the central nervous system. From a neurofeedback perspective, this means that they offer a highly valuable target for reinforcement. In fact, shifts (or fluctuations) in these infraslow frequencies directly affect the brain’s internal regulation of the autonomic nervous system, including our fight-flight-freeze stress response as well as our rest-and-digest state. By providing real-time auditory feedback regarding small shifts in infraslow frequencies, the brain learns to optimize its ability to self-regulate, readjusting baseline levels of activity in various regions. Given that the root cause for dysregulated brain states and mental illness is often hyper- or hypo-excitability, ISF neurofeedback offers an unparalleled form of neurotherapy for many suffering from anxiety, trauma, depression, and much more.
Z-Score training is a specific type of neurofeedback therapy that utilizes the brain activity collected from your QEEG (reference brain mapping above). Once a sample of your brain’s electrical activity is quantified it is then compared to an age-normed database. By comparing your QEEG to an age-normed baseline (a z-score) we can begin to assess whether your baseline levels of brain function are in any way out of balance (hyper- or hypoactive, under or over connected). The clinician then uses this comparison to establish specific Z-score training protocols. In this type of neurofeedback, the brain is provided with a “reward” when a normative range of brain function is produced. When the brain produces activity that falls outside of this normative range, no “reward” is provided. These rewards can involve a number of different cues including auditory tones, or visual cues of the dimming/brightening of a movie screen or video game. . Over time, the brain learns to produce activity within the rewarded target range. Z-score training can involve anywhere from 2 to 20 sensors (full head) depending on the comparative results and protocols created by the clinician.
Standardized Low Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography, referred to simply as sLORETA, is a method of neurofeedback that gives a real-time 3-dimensional image of your brain in action. After a clinician strategically places 20 sensors on the scalp, sLORETA imaging allows the practitioner to read the electrical activity of structures deep within the brain. This imaging also provides information regarding specific neuronal networks, connectivity between these networks (coherence), and the speed of information processed amongst them (phase). All of these parameters are immensely important factors when it comes to optimal brain functioning. Using the information gathered from your QEEG, sLORETA training is capable of precisely pinpointing neuronal generators deep in the brain that may be contributing to dysregulated activity. The brain is provided with a “reward” when a normative range of brain function is produced, and no “reward” when activity falls outside of set range. As training progresses, the brain uses these cues to adjust its baseline level of functionality, connectivity, and overall processing.
Traditional neurofeedback, although simpler than other methods, is a straightforward and effective form of treatment. Traditional neurofeedback utilizes the raw data of an EEG detected from 2-4 sensors strategically placed on the scalp. Some examples of traditional neurofeedback include SMR or Sensorimotor Rhythm training, Inhibit/enhance training, and Alpha/Theta training.
SMR training is a linear activity where the client is asked to increase the amplitude of sensorimotor rhythms on the motor strip of the brain. When the client produces SMR amplitudes that rise above a threshold designated by the clinician an audio tone sounds or visual cues brighten. When the amplitudes fall below a threshold the tone gets softer or the visuals dim. This type of neurofeedback has also been adapted to videogame modules for younger aged clients. Over several sessions self-defeating behaviors such as restlessness or inattention begin to remediate. This same process is true for Inhibit/enhance training.
The goal of Alpha/Theta neurofeedback specifically aims to produce Theta waves that are greater in amplitude than Alpha waves. This alpha/theta amplitude ratio has the effect of moving the client into a deeply relaxed state that is an internal experience close to that of the beginning stages of falling asleep. Alpha/Theta training has been an effective therapy for traumatic stress as well as addiction, and typically uses audio feedback tones while the client sits in a comfortable recliner with their eyes closed.
Hemoencephalography is a different type of brain-regulation therapy used to monitor and regulate blood flow within the brain. Set apart from most neurofeedback approaches, this method uses blood flow (hemo- meaning blood) as the feedback mechanism rather than brainwave activity. Proper blood flow throughout the brain is extremely important. Blood flow, or oxygenation, provides oxygen, nutrients and glucose (used for energy) to various parts of the brain. The more active a given region is, the more metabolic activity within that region, and hence, the more oxygenated blood flow is needed for proper functioning. Hemoencephalography training allows for the increase of voluntary control over cerebral blood flow. Over time, one learns to increase blood flow to a specified *region of the brain* (less redundant sounding?) leading to increased brain activity and performance on tasks involving that region. HEG activation training of the pre-frontal cortex has been a useful and effective treatment for various conditions including ADHD, migraine, and depression.