Wouldn’t it be great to have more control over your states of alertness, focus, awareness, mental health? Along history, people have often relied on years and decades of meditation to alter the functioning of the brain and harness these effects for spiritual and physical well being. What if there is a simpler way to increase your attention span, quiet your mind, change the way you react to stress, restore and maintain a healthy functioning of the brain, which is based on sound technology and recent discoveries. The solution might be already around and resides in a procedure called neurofeedback, which would enable you to adjust and balance your own brainwaves.
What’s this all about?
Brainwaves are at the core of all mental processes. There are 5 major types: alpha, beta, delta, gamma, and theta – each type of brainwave correlates with a different state of brain activity. For instance, alpha waves occur during relaxation, while beta waves – during alertness, but if active for too long can lead to a sense of fear and anxiety.
So, boosting alpha waves to the detriment of beta waves is one common goal of neurofeedback (in other instances, one would want the reverse, for increasing focus, problem solving). This is usually implemented by means of an electroencephalograph that measures electromagnetic signals generated by the brain, detecting the types of brainwaves that are active at the moment, a computer that decodes these signals, and a screen that helps you monitor the signals from the brainwaves. Through this process of monitoring, neurofeedback allows you to filter out sub-optimal patterns, which are the source of unease, distraction, and discomfort.
Besides being used already for decades in treating ADHD, PTSD and epilepsy, neurofeedback has a promising potential in a range of conditions such as anxiety, autism, addiction, aggression, depression, Schizophrenia, migraines, insomnia, Tourette syndrome, and brain damage from stroke, trauma, surgery, etc. In many conditions, the combination of psychotherapy with neurofeedback can create lasting change and recovery.
In one specific instance, a person suffering from debilitating migraines, after staying on a drug regimen for a year and a half with no success, switched to neurofeedback. As a result, from three or four severe migraines a week, vomiting and constant pain, she went to no symptoms. And this is not just an individual case – a study on migraine patients concluded that neurofeedback seems dramatically effective in reducing migraine frequency and intensity in most of the patients. Better focus and relaxation can apparently help to alleviate such conditions as anxiety and migraines (imbalanced brain waves are often associated with pain).
Another famous instance involved a 58 year old man recovering from brain surgery – while removing his brain tumor, the other functionality in the brain was significantly affected (mobility and cognition). After nine months of physical and occupational therapy, the progress was minimal while the doctors were anticipating a 2 to 3 year recovery period. At this point, partially out of desperation, he switched to neurofeedback procedures and, already after the ninth session, he could drive the car and walk his dog (the story was featured in a Washington Post editorial).
But neurofeedback procedures can help in case of suboptimal focus, memory, and alertness too (as a matter of fact, neurofeedback is also used sometimes as part of ultimate training for athletes, pilots, and other professionals). It is also claimed to help artistic people by improving technique in musicians, enhancing performance and creativity in dancers, allowing a better immersion into the role for actors. All these make you wonder at the potential of this technique. In San Diego, The Alpha Theta Center Neruofeedback provides the highest level of qualitative analysis of your EEG scores, for a truly customized neurofeedback experience. Dr. Michael Villanueva has years of experience treating soldiers in field in Afghanistan and treating civilians in his office in Sorrento Valley.