Neurofeedback has been used therapeutically since the 1970s. It consists in recording, thanks to an EEG (Electroencephalogram) headset, the frequencies of the brain waves (i.e. brain activity) and in reproducing them in real time in visual or auditory form (feedback), so that the brain can regulate itself, i.e. maintain the target frequency, by trying to maintain the video or sound signal or to make the video game progress (according to specific modalities).
There are many different technologies and many different forms of feedback: for children it is usually watching a cartoon or playing a video game.
Main objectives of the method
Neurofeedback aims to enable the brain to regulate itself, providing feedback on its own activity in order to guide it unconsciously to the frequency of activity that allows it to function optimally.
Neurofeedback works thanks to an EEG headset that records brain wave frequencies (the headset is only used to record brain activity, it does not emit anything).
The frequencies correspond to the speed of the brain's electrical activity, if they are too fast or too slow, it means that the brain area is not functioning at its best potential (which explains disorders such as inability to concentrate, hyperactivity... the brain is overheated or under-regulated, it is not able to process the information it receives).
Optimization on brain functioning, reducing frequencies that are too low or too high and that hinder the child's current functioning.
Reduction of the symptoms resulting from this atypical cerebral functioning: improvement of the capacities of concentration, improvement of the executive functions, reduction of sleep disorders, better capacity of self-regulation...
Specificities of the method
A protocol that has the advantage of relying primarily on technology and little or no intuitu personae or relational quality of the practitioner (with the exception of certain devices that require more participation).
The session lasts between 30min and 1h
the practitioner places the electrodes on the head and the child or adult
EEG headphones record active brain waves and a tablet allows the brain to self-regulate.
Video game progress: when the desired brain state is reached, the game progresses (allows the reinforcement of the current brain frequencies), otherwise it slows down or stops (inhibition of the current brain frequencies).
in the form of a cartoon: same principle, the cartoon is normal (allows the reinforcement of the current brain frequencies), or it darkens and the sound decreases (inhibition of the current brain frequencies)
This allows to reinforce the desired neuronal circuits: the brain self-regulates itself naturally and reinforces circuits that can be better used outside the sessions.
Several types of neurofeedback can be distinguished
Classical neurofeedback: depending on the symptoms or difficulties of the patients, the brain areas to be worked on are 80% the same, so the protocol is the same for each patient with the same diagnosis (e.g. ADHD, sleep, depression...) and will work in 80% of the cases.
Neurofeedback with qEEG: the program is carried out on the basis of patient-specific data, thanks to a qEEG (quantitative EEG) recording session that allows a brain map to be drawn up and areas that deviate from the target to be visually identified and worked on (by placing the electrodes on the areas to be regulated and setting the target values to be achieved).
Dynamic neurofeedback (in particular the Neuroptimal system, the dominant system in France): the qEEG is not realized as such, but it is as if realized dynamically by the machine. The proprietary system does not describe precisely how it works, which makes it more opaque but allows a priori a custom protocol, without passing the qEEG, and to have a device that adapts (dynamically) as the sessions go on.
Who is this method for ?
ADHD: attention and hyperactivity disorders were the first to be treated by this method (In the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics has classified neurofeedback as a "Level 1 intervention" for the treatment of ADHD (i.e. equivalent efficacy to taking medication).
ASD: the use of neurofeedback is increasingly being developed for children on the autism spectrum, with the advantage that it is also possible for children with the most severe disorders.
Regulation of emotions
What parents say about it
"This method works very well on sleep deprivation, anxiety problems, stress, anxiety, concentration and memory problems. It also helps to channel hyperactive children, so that they are more concentrated at school. »
"For example, a 13-year-old girl with attention deficit disorder whose mother had stopped taking ritalin a few months earlier because of the many side effects she had experienced, such as growth retardation, menstrual cycle disorders and a feeling of emptiness. Neurofeedback helped him enormously. After two sessions, when she was particularly stressed as she approached her white patent and had problems with attention and memory that severely disrupted her learning, she reported significant changes: she suddenly found herself able to organize her work time, memorizing the statement of her duty and restoring her knowledge, even in examination situations. »
The National Institute of Health lists more than 450 publications on neurofeedback.
Neuromodulation integrating rTMS and neurofeedback for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder: An exploratory study
We consider it possible to conclude that low-frequency inhibitory rTMS neuromodulation followed by prefrontal gamma upregulation neurofeedback improves executive functioning and behavioural symptoms in autism.
A review of neurofeedback treatment for pediatric ADHD
"Based on the results and methodologies of the published studies, this review concludes that Neurofeedback for paediatric ADHD can currently be considered effective".
Is neurofeedback an efficacious treatment for ADHD? A randomized controlled clinical trial
"Our results indicate that neurofeedback can be considered a clinically effective module in the treatment of children with ADHD."
Neurofeedback: A Comprehensive Review on System Design, Methodology and Clinical Applications
"Like other treatments, neurofeedback has its advantages and disadvantages. While it is a safe, non-invasive intervention that has improved the treatment of many problems and disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, ASD, insomnia, substance abuse, schizophrenia, learning disabilities, dyslexia and dyscalculia, its validity has been questioned by convincing scientific evidence of its effectiveness. In addition, it is an expensive procedure that is not covered by many insurance companies. It is also time-consuming and its benefits do not last long. Finally, it may take several months to see the desired improvements (Mauro and Cermak, 2006). »
Clinical neurofeedback: case studies, proposed mechanism, and implications for pediatric neurology practice, J Child Neurol. 2011.
Is neurofeedback an efficacious treatment for ADHD? A randomized controlled clinical trial. Gevensleben et al (2009). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 780-789.
To know more about the topic
Links to the official website or well-made news websites:
Link to informative articles + reference books :
Link to FB parent groups :
Link to professional directories :
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