Creating A Self-Regulated Brain
Neurofeedback is the process of improving the brain's ability to regulate itself by teaching it to enforce functional patterns and reduce dysfunctional patterns.
Most mental health issues have a neurological component and a behavioral component. The brain may be working too fast, too slow, overly connected or not allocating resources well. That's where neurofeedback comes in!
Neurofeedback: It's all about the brainwaves.
How is your brain functioning?
The concept behind neurofeedback is that the brain, which is both electrical and chemical, is designed to do two things: learn and stabilize itself. Homeostasis (or stabilization) is a fancy way of saying that what the body and brain try to maintain the current functioning state at all times. This is why your body temperature stays at 98.6 degrees when you are healthy and why you develop behavioral habits. As you grow and learn, the brain creates connections which drive your behaviors and become the pathways through which we experience the world. Once a pathway is used repeatedly, it becomes part of the brain's homeostatic set point, and becomes more frequently and easily utilized.
Most of the time, this is a good thing. We learn how to do and feel in a beneficial way and what was once impossible (like a 1 year old driving a car) becomes possible (driving as a teenager or young adult). However, when you experience trauma (emotional, physical, or mental), develop dysfunctional behavioral habits, or find yourself struggling to do something that should be easy, there may be a problem with the way your brain is functioning electrically. There are three basic problematic states that your brain can be in: over activated (too fast), under activated (too slow), and unbalanced (bouncing back and forth between fast and slow). Each state results in behavioral difficulties.
Neurofeedback is a computer assisted method for encouraging the brain to reduce these states through auditory and visual positive reinforcement. Neurofeedback has been around as a therapy since the 1960s, when a NASA study found that training cats to increase a specific brainwave caused them to physically calm. These cats inadvertently became resistant to seizure activity, and the possibility of changing the brain, and therefore physical and psychological behavior, was born. Shortly after that, various researchers and clinicians found that this technique could be used with a wide variety of brain-based clinical issues! However, in the 1960s, a computer capable of running the computations quickly enough to engage learning were the size of a building! Outside of research facilities and university settings, it wasn't widely available. As the computers have improved, gotten smaller, and become more accessible in the past few decades, the use of neurofeedback in a clinical setting has finally become practical.
Neurofeedback is one of Dr. Novian's specialties, and he has been using this technique since 2001.