We measure the electrical brain activity (neuro), and give feedback on this activity. This feedback is a “reward” when the activity is “desired”. By training regularly, we teach the brain to behave in a certain way; the conditioned way. Because of this, for example, the brain can show less electrical activity which we as humans feel as fear.
With neurofeedback, we will just measure and give feedback on what we are measuring at that moment. Nothing is added to the brain. Neurofeedback is therefore non-invasive. Because nothing extra is added, the chance of unwanted side effects is almost non-existent.
Neurofeedback takes a closer look at the electrical activity in the brain, and can work in a very specific way. This in contrast to medication which will act on the chemical component in the brain. This means that neurofeedback can also be used in situations where medication is not desirable, for example during a pregnancy.
Neurofeedback works according to the principle of operant conditioning. If we notice the “desired” activity in the brain, it is “rewarded”. In this way we train the brain to the desired activity.
Neurofeedback & medication
Neurofeedback focuses solely on electrical activity in the brain. Medication will act on the chemical component in the brain. Neurofeedback and medication are therefore not mutually exclusive. Neurofeedback can also help to reduce medication. Nevertheless, there are some important differences to be noted:
Neurofeedback works only with the electrical activity in the brain.
Medication works on the chemical component of the brain.
Neurofeedback is measuring the electrical activity, and giving feedback on it. Nothing is actively added, and neurofeedback is therefore non-invasive. As a result, the chance of side-effects is virtually nil.
Medication is a substance that is actively added to the body, and is therefore considered “invasive”. As a result, undesirable side effects are possible.
Slow but long term effects
Neurofeedback is not a panacea, and does not work “immediately”. After all, it is still a training. One has to practice for a certain amount of time to achieve a certain result, but this result is usually permanent.
Fast but temporary
Depending on the type of medication, it can work “instantly”. However, the effect will disappear when the medication is no longer taken.
Thanks to technological developments, neurofeedback can work very specifically on a certain part of the brain. Areas where there is no “undesired” activity are left untouched. Because of this among other reasons, because of this the chance of side effects is nil.
Usually not targeted
In most cases, medication will not only act on a specific area of the brain, but will also act on areas where there is actually no problem. This is a major cause of side effects.
With neurofeedback, we start with a brain scan (“brain map”), which gives us full insight into your brain function. Based on this, we first assess whether neurofeedback can be used for training. If so, a fully personalised training protocol will be drawn up for you.
It goes without saying that your doctor will draw up a medication plan for you that is as personalised as possible. However, in most cases, this is limited to products that are offered ready-made on the market.
Becomes a skill
With neurofeedback you actually train a skill. For example, you train how to better deal with stress, anxiety, hyperalertness,…. Just like learning to ride a bicycle, you will always be able to use the trained skill in the future.
Possible dependence or habituation
There is no doubt that medication has many advantages. Unfortunately, with psychoactive medication it is often the case that a certain dependency or habituation will occur over time.
Beware: choose scientific neurofeedback
The above explanation is only accurate when it comes to QEEG Neurofeedback. Unfortunately, the word “neurofeedback” is not (yet) protected, and can therefore be used by anyone. If you wish to be treated with neurofeedback, please ensure that it is QEEG Neurofeedback and that you are working with a BFE or BCIA certified therapist.
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