Frequently Asked Questions
General Information about Neurofeedback
- What is neurofeedback?
- What conditions respond well to neurofeedback?
- How can playing a game or watching a movie improve my brain?
- Is all neurofeedback the same?
- How does neurofeedback work?
- Are you putting anything into my brain?
- What are the risks of neurofeedback?
- What is a neurofeedback session like?
- How quickly can I expect to see results and do the benefits stick?
- When does neurofeedback not work?
- What is the success rate of neurofeedback?
- Are neurofeedback improvements permanent?
- How many neurofeedback sessions do I need to get better?
Neurofeedback and Medication/Drugs
- Can I use neurofeedback if I’m taking medication?
- Can training impact the response to psychiatric or neurological medications?
- Can neurofeedback lead to reduction of medication?
- Can neurofeedback help with substance abuse treatment?
- Can I train with neurofeedback if I’m using marijuana, alcohol or other drugs?
Neurofeedback at Home
Who Can/Can’t Do Neurofeedback
- What ages can benefit from neurofeedback?
- If I have a medical, genetic, or neurological problem, can neurofeedback help?
- Can I do neurofeedback if I’m also undergoing mental health counseling?
- Who can benefit from neurofeedback/biofeedback?
- Why don’t more doctors recommend neurofeedback?
- Is there solid research on neurofeedback?
- How is neurofeedback different from Lumosity, brain games or mindfulness?
- Why should the Center for Brain Training be your first choice for biofeedback services?
- Are there environmental factors that can impact training success?
- Could neurofeedback make me worse?
Services/Fees at the Center for Brain Training
Are you putting anything into my brain when I do neurofeedback?
Nothing is going into your brain. Neurofeedback is simply measuring your brain activity. For example, you put sensors on your head and the computer measures the activity coming from your brain, such as your brainwaves. That information is sent to a computer, which in turn provides auditory or visual feedback, such as hearing a sound or having a movie fade in and out as you make more or less brain activity. It’s simply measuring it. Your brain responds instantly to the feedback.
Can I do Neurofeedback if I am on medication?
Many clients, both children and adults, are on medications when they start neurofeedback. It’s generally not a problem.
Neurofeedback is learning. Your brain still learns when you’re on medications. There are medications that can slow down the progress. For example, drugs such as Xanax or Valium or Ativan, also called benzodiazepines, can interfere with learning. Since neurofeedback depends on learning, this class of drug can interfere with or slow down neurofeedback training.
There are other medications that can interfere with your quality of sleep. They can also slow down progress with neurofeedback training.
For many people, as they train with neurofeedback, their brain can get better at managing itself and may require less medication to function well over time. Testing any changes in medication, though, is a gradual process that involves working directly with your doctor.
If you want a more detailed discussion of this question, you can find it on Amazon in my book, Neurofeedback 101.
How many neurofeedback sessions do I need to get better?
There’s no typical number of sessions for any person. Every person is unique and responds at a different pace, as they would doing workouts in the gym. A better question is: how long do you have to wait to see if neurofeedback is working for you? Most people will notice some change in 5 to 10 sessions. It’s not uncommon to see small changes within 2 or 3 sessions. Some people complete their training in 10 sessions, others in 20 sessions, and those with really complex problems can take 50 to 100 sessions.
Progress can be affected by diet and nutrition, metabolic health, medications, and lifestyle.
With the gym, you have to go on forever to stay in shape. Neurofeedback is learning. Once neurofeedback learning has taken hold, many people don’t have to do it anymore or may need occasional tune-ups. Just like riding a bike, once you’ve learned, you really don’t forget.
What conditions respond to neurofeedback?
What conditions respond well to neurofeedback? The ones we see very consistently are anxiety, panic attacks, depression, ADHD. There are neurological issues such as migraines and concussion that can do really well, kids and adults with learning and processing issues, developmental delays, and anyone that has poor sleep or insomnia, adult or child. This is a very good tool, but it’s not that neurofeedback trains anxiety or sleep or ADHD or migraines. What you’re doing is using neurofeedback as a way to exercise your brain, to help you balance how your neurons fire, so that they do a better job of helping your brain control anxiety, control attention, to manage your attention better, to manage your headaches so that your headaches don’t take you over, to be able to process information or better handle too much information coming at you. How do you do that?
You strengthen your brain, you exercise it. zit’s not that neurofeedback is treatment. It’s not. It’s training. It’s helping your brain function more efficiently do it does a better job of what it’s supposed to be doing—managing attention, sleep, learning, remembering, doing math, not having headaches. If your brain can be really good at giving you a headache, it can be good at not having a headache, so what neurofeedback really does is help your brain perform better. And all these conditions that we discussed, it’s not really training those. It’s just training the different.
Is there solid research on neurofeedback?
Yes…much of it spanning 40+ years. It includes newer fMRI brain scan research (for example by Harvard-trained psychiatrist Ruth Lanius, M.D.) which identifies changes in connectivity across the brain as a result of neurofeedback.
At a conference in 2019, Australian psychologist and neurofeedback practitioner Moshe Perl, Ph.D. presented an in-depth review of the published studies in the field of neurofeedback and neuromodulation. The review found 314 studies that met their stringent criteria for inclusion as solid studies. Two hundred ninety-eight of those had positive outcomes, covering a variety of conditions. This review showed that there is a strong evidence base supporting neurofeedback.
You can find research on the NIH PubMed site (search “neurofeedback”) or look on www.ISNR.org under resources (or go to this link for a comprehensive bibliography of neurofeedback research. ISNR is a professional membership organization for neurofeedback. I’ve also provided a condensed list of some of the most readable research at www.CenterForBrain.com along with links. Click on Learn, then click Research Papers.
How is neurofeedback different from Lumosity, brain games or mindfulness?
Video games, brain games like Sudoku, software training like Lumosity and BrainHq and mindfulness training can be powerful. However, they do not directly measure specific brain activity and give instant (real-time) feedback like neurofeedback does. When exposed to neurofeedback, the brain responds to the instant information it receives and changes or adapts its behavior as a result.
Neurofeedback technology helps measure and provide feedback about “brain circuit activity” that correlates to learning, expressing what you think, doing math, controlling emotions, paying attention, quieting your mind and far more. Powerful learning or adapting typically occurs when your brain gets instant feedback about specific brain patterns.
How can playing a game or watching a movie improve my brain?
Generally, when you’re training with neurofeedback, you may play a video game or you may watch a movie that fades in and out based on measuring your brain pattern at any given moment. When your brain activity changes, the video feedback changes instantly.
The changes depend upon whether your brain is increasing or decreasing the targeted patterns. With practice your brain gets used to making more of the targeted patterns and your symptoms tend to start improving. On the other hand, watching a normal movie or playing a normal video game never involves feedback from your brain. That’s a huge difference. The neurofeedback tells your brain instantly when it’s making better patterns. That’s a powerful and unique way to change your brain.
Can neurofeedback help with substance abuse treatment?
Yes. Neurofeedback is increasingly used in clinicians’ offices and addiction rehab centers. Studies and clinical experience show that neurofeedback is helpful for improving outcomes and reducing relapse.
People struggling with substance abuse issues typically have underlying issues like depression, anxiety and sleep. Neurofeedback provides a non-medication approach to gaining self-control, calming, emotions, executive function, sleep and anxiety. Training gives those in treatment a much better shot at “getting their act together.” Research shows that neurofeedback training helps substance abuse clients stay in treatment longer, which increases the chances they will succeed.
If I have a medical, genetic or neurological problem, can neurofeedback help?
Often, yes. Neurofeedback doesn’t treat any specific diagnosis or condition. It helps the brain increase efficiency and reorganize function. Therefore, no matter what caused your problem—brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or genetics—training can be helpful.
Neurofeedback doesn’t typically reverse a chronic degenerative neurological condition. What’s more commonly reported are small improvements in function, with a slower decline. It can be as simple as more “good days” and fewer “bad days.” It may require ongoing neurofeedback or maintenance sessions. Neurofeedback works better as part of a comprehensive treatment approach, including an anti-inflammatory diet and supplements.
Can training impact the response to psychiatric or neurological medications?
Neurofeedback is compatible with medications, but the impact of medications on someone training with neurofeedback should be carefully observed and monitored.
Clinicians note that after a number of neurofeedback sessions, medications may have a slightly different effect than previously. Some argue that because training has improved the brain’s activation and connectivity, you’re no longer medicating the same brain you started with.
After neurofeedback training, medication may work better for some patients. In other cases, the medication may need to be adjusted by your physician.
Can I train with neurofeedback if I’m using marijuana, alcohol or other drugs?
It’s possible to train with neurofeedback while using substances, but they may interfere with or slow neurofeedback progress. Success depends on many factors, including the type of substance, dosage, frequency, your age and overall clinical history. It’s important to be frank about this with your neurofeedback provider so that you can have the best training experience possible and to be sure that the training you’re doing is appropriate.
When does neurofeedback not work?
Since neurofeedback does not involve a magic wand, there are potential roadblocks to the successful completion of training. These include:
- Diet and nutrition
- “Giving up” due to impatience or inconsistent or slow progress
- Incorrect training protocol(s)
- Certain medications such as benzodiazepines or too many medications
- Alcohol, recreational drug use and other lifestyle factors
- Failure to train regularly
- Environmental issues
- Medical issues
- Family Issues (having poor or no support)
Are there environmental factors that can impact training success?
Yes. Here are some common ones:
- Chronic use of alcohol and drugs, including pot and vaping
- Exposure to mold
- Chronic exposure to paints, chemicals or pesticides, which can impact neurological functioning
- Internet addiction
- Too much cell phone use; sleeping too close to a cell phone. There’s emerging evidence that microwave frequencies from cell phones and Wi-Fi routers may affect your brain, particularly during sleep when your brain is supposed to recover and recharge
- Poor diet/nutrition
Is all neurofeedback the same?
No, but when administered by a competent provider, all types can be helpful.
There’s no clear-cut evidence yet that any one type of feedback is consistently superior to the others. It’s a difficult issue, even for experienced providers, to compare and sort out.
Can I do neurofeedback training at home?
The short answer is “yes,” but the better question is, should you?
If there’s a neurofeedback provider fairly close by, there are advantages to going to someone experienced. In theory, you should get higher quality care from someone knowledgeable and experienced. You also may have to do fewer sessions to see results, as they may offer training that is more sophisticated than what you could do on your own.
On the other hand, there are situations where a home system might be worth considering: you’re far from a provider or you need neurofeedback sessions over a long period of time, or several times per week, because of complex issues.
See our Neurofeedback at Home page for more detail.
What types of biofeedback and neurofeedback are offered at the Center for Brain Training?
The Center for Brain Training offers brain biofeedback, body biofeedback also known as BioRegulation Therapy (BRT), and heart rate variability biofeedback . We’ve learned that combining biofeedback for the brain and biofeedback for the body is a potent combination. Since some people do better with one type of neurofeedback than another, we offer five types.
What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a computer-assisted non-invasive, non-drug way to help your brain become more flexible, stable and functional. Sensors are placed on your head to measure the brainwaves (nothing goes into your head). A computer analyzes those brainwaves in real time. It then “talks back” to the brain using customized sounds and images. These encourage positive brain activity such as relaxation, focus and attention. At the same time, the program discourages the type of brain activity which causes anxiety or depression. With repetition, it becomes easier for your brain to reach whatever the desired state is in order for you to feel better, and all this occurs while you relax!
How does neurofeedback work?
Neurofeedback takes advantage of the brain’s amazing ability to change itself. This ability is known as “neuroplasticity.” It’s the way learning takes place. For example, neuroplasticity is what allows you to become better at a sport with practice or to develop a new habit over time.
Research has shown that throughout life the brain continues to adapt and adjust as it confronts new experiences, fresh knowledge and varying sensory input. The result is that with life experience, different neurons fire, synapses grow, and the brain remaps itself. Over time neurofeedback helps create different patterns and structures which are more conducive to contentment and a peaceful mind. With practice and training, these patterns can produce a new way of life. This capacity for change continues well into old age.
This is encouraging news for those suffering from disorders caused by poorly functioning brain patterns such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic pain and ADHD.
What conditions can be helped with neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback can help a wide range of problems – any condition, in fact, which is the result of brain patterns functioning inefficiently. These include depression, sleep issues, chronic pain, concussion/head injuries, learning difficulties and ADHD. Click here for a complete list of conditions helped by neurofeedback.
What is a neurofeedback session like?
There are several variations, but a typical session begins with sensors placed on your head to measure your brainwaves (nothing goes into your head). Then you play a simple video game or watch a movie. When the brain creates an optimal rhythm, the game or movie plays normally. If the brain falls out of the desired pattern, the game or movie slows or stops until the brain returns to the more efficient pattern. The end result is that, with repetition, the brain goes more and more often into the desired pattern until this becomes a habit.
Are neurofeedback improvements permanent?
Generally, once the brain has adopted a new pattern, the results last. However, if you are confronted with an unexpected life challenge that affects the brain (trauma, brain injury, loss of a loved one, extreme stress), you might need maintenance sessions or “tune-ups.” These typically involve only two or three sessions to get the brain re-stabilized and back on track.
What ages can benefit from neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback can help adults of any age and children as young as three.
What is the success rate of neurofeedback?
The success rate commonly quoted by clinicians and in published scientific research for neurofeedback for certain conditions is 75%-80%. However, more neurofeedback research needs to be done to accurately state efficacy rates.
That being said, certain conditions respond more quickly than others. Anxiety, sleep issues and migraines typically improve rapidly and well. Medications for most conditions can often be reduced or eliminated. Even more difficult-to-treat conditions such as OCD or seizures usually improve to some degree because our combination approach successfully trains the brain to function better. However, we cannot know to what degree symptoms will improve for any individual, as everyone’s brain is unique.
What are the risks of neurofeedback?
In over 50 years of usage, no long-term negative effects have ever been identified with neurofeedback training. Sometimes a person may notice a short-term increase in symptoms as the brain adjusts to a new pattern. This increase in symptoms usually goes away rapidly on its own or can be minimized easily by a trained clinician’s adjustment of the treatment protocol.
Can I use neurofeedback if I’m taking medication?
Yes. Neurofeedback also works if you are taking medication.
Can neurofeedback lead to reduction of medication?
Yes. After undergoing neurofeedback training you may find you need less medication or are able to discontinue it altogether, in concert with your physician.
Can I do neurofeedback if I’m also undergoing mental health counseling?
Definitely yes! Neurofeedback can be a powerful adjunct to psychotherapy but is not a replacement for it. As the brain begins to function better through neurofeedback training, emotional and behavioral issues can be easier to resolve with psychotherapy. We encourage all our clients to seek the best care available for their individual situations.
What is body biofeedback (BRT)?
Body biofeedback, also called BioRegulation Therapy (BRT), is a body balancing method that has its roots in acupuncture but with the added advantage of modern-day technology.
How does body biofeedback (BRT) work?
A computer reads the electrical impulses (frequencies) being emitted by the cells in your body. It filters out the disharmonic “unhealthy” vibrations that interfere with optimal cell communication (and thus interfere with their optimal functioning). It then amplifies the “healthy” harmonic frequencies and sends them back to the cells. These harmonic frequencies “invigorate” the cells and encourage them to function the way they are supposed to. Once the cells are doing their jobs better, the nervous system calms down and pain signals, which have become magnified over time, diminish.
What conditions can be helped with body biofeedback (BRT)?
BRT is particularly useful in relieving the symptoms of chronic pain when there needs to be better integration of brain and body and whenever there are a lot of “body symptoms.” These symptoms can include post-surgery discomfort, anxiety, fear, immune system-related issues and repair of injuries, including sports injuries.
How quickly can I expect to see results and do the benefits stick?
About 70% of our clients notice some type of change within the first one to three sessions. They may feel calmer, more alert or may have improved sleep. Others might notice an effect during or immediately after the training sessions. Some notice nothing until the following day while for the rest It can take five or 10 sessions or longer to notice effects. A small percentage of people may not ever notice changes.
Doing neurofeedback is not unlike learning a language. It takes multiple classes and practice sessions for new vocabulary words to stick in your brain. You easily forget them at the beginning until you’ve practiced enough. Neurofeedback is like that. More practice is better over time.
Part of the neurofeedback process is staying with it until you learn. It’s like riding a bike. Once you learn it, you don’t tend to forget it. What this means is you don’t have to do neurofeedback forever.
What is heart rate variability training?
Heart rate variability training is s a type of biofeedback that helps balance your breathing with your heart. There’s a lot of research on this type of biofeedback that indicates that learning to breathe right helps mood, anxiety and sleep. This training in one form or another has been used for thousands of years. Using specialized software, people are guided to develop more a balanced breathing pattern that is in sync with the heart rate. Improving your heart rate variability helps encourage more balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in the person feeling calmer, less anxious and better able to handle stress.
Is biofeedback covered by insurance?
Services we provide are considered out of network. In some cases you may receive reimbursement. In others, you will not. Whether you are reimbursed depends on the service we provided, your particular situation and the insurance provider’s policies.
We do not accept Medicare or Medicaid. We will prepare your insurance claim form for you, but we ask that you do the follow up and pay the Center for Brain Training at the time of service.
Click here to learn more.
Who can benefit from neurofeedback/biofeedback?
Anyone age three and older who is experiencing challenges related to their brain can benefit. The brain has a huge impact on behavior, emotions, processing speed, attention, sleep, frustration tolerance and more. New technologies help clients overcome these issues by helping them balance their nervous system and brain.
One of the Center for Brain Training’s tools is the brain map. What is a brain map?
A brain map is a technology used to help pinpoint exactly where the problems are in the brain. Also known as a qEEG, it measures the electrical activity of the brain from 19 points and identifies where timing issues are negatively impacting mood, behavior or attention. Armed with this information, neurofeedback training can be targeted to the problem areas, resulting in better and often faster results. One optional qEEG report is available which pinpoints appropriate medications and reduces the process of trial and error in prescribing.
Why don’t more doctors recommend biofeedback?
Even though neurofeedback has been around for more than 40 years with numerous studies demonstrating its effectiveness, it still hasn’t gained wide acceptance. Most medical doctors and mental health professionals don’t know much about neurofeedback, nor do they understand all its implications and impact. Since it’s not a subject they learn in their professional training, it’s not part of their toolbox. Healthcare providers generally won’t recommend a therapy until they understand it and feel more comfortable with it.
What do sessions cost?
Sessions can range from $115 to $200+, depending on the type (s) of services needed to meet your needs. The long-term benefits of neurofeedback on health make our services a low-cost option when calculated over time. Savings result from the possibility of less need for tutors, doctor visits, psychotherapy, medications and more. Our mantra is that when the brain functions more normally, your whole life can change for the better, and that’s not something you can put a price on.
Click here for more detail on our fees and services.
Why should the Center for Brain Training be your first choice for neurofeedback/biofeedback services?
The Center for Brain Training was founded in 2006 by Mike Cohen and his wife Carolyn. Prior to that, Mike worked in the neurofeedback field in Georgia for over 20 years. Besides running a successful practice in Jupiter, Mike is an internationally renowned instructor who has taught this technology to more than 2,500 healthcare professionals, including medical doctors, around the world. Mike’s ability to meld both the art and the science of neurotechnology in unique ways has kept him on the forefront of this expanding field for more than two decades and made him one of its most sought-after experts.
The Center for Brain Training provides each client with a support system while we partner with you to get your brain working better and see you feeling better. You haven’t given up, so we don’t either, no matter how long you’ve struggled or what you’ve tried. There’s almost always something in our toolbox, along with referrals to vetted complementary healthcare professionals when indicated, who can help.
Another benefit of going to the Center for Brain Training is that we offer optional brain maps, which permit a more precise customized program to target brain issues.
While much of what the Center for Brain Training does is high-tech, the staff never loses sight of the fact that we are dealing with people’s lives, their health, and their overall well-being. Many of our clients’ situations are quite complex, and many have “tried everything.” We pay attention to what clients tell us and put compassion as high on the priority list as technical know-how.
Could neurofeedback make me worse?
In more than 25 years of doing neurofeedback, we haven’t seen anyone who experienced long-term worsening of symptoms as a result of doing neurofeedback. However, there may be some short-term “side effects,” just as you might have when you work out at the gym and feel sore the next day.
Does anyone ever feel “sore” from a neurofeedback brain workout? (“Sore” is just a metaphor—no one’s brain—or head—hurts after doing neurofeedback!). Some people can feel a bit “off” after the session. When that happens, we adjust their training to even them out. It’s unusual for symptoms that arise after a brain training session to last more than a couple of days. A “sore” response to training is positive. It can indicate that your brain is highly responsive to training.