What Are Neurofeedback & Neurostimulation?
In this article, we elaborate upon neurofeedback and neurostimulation. These interventions are used to help people that have neurological, psychiatric, and age-related medical conditions that impact physical, cognitive, and mental health. With each technique, we provide a link to a video that we feel gives a more in-depth picture of a technique’s application in the clinic.
The 3 Techniques
Neurofeedback – A method of biofeedback that uses brain-wave activity as feedback from receiving stimulation or intervention. Clinicians can use imaging techniques to assess brain wave activity. Forms of stimulation that can be given during neurofeedback sessions include video and audio stimulation. Neurofeedback has shown promise for the intervention of anxiety disorders, neurological dysfunction, and could be effective for attention problems caused by ADHD.
To watch a video on what neurofeedback is, follow this link.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) – This technology uses a directed pulse to manipulate brain activity. TMS can be a single or dual pulse for research methods but is needed in repetitive pulse paradigms for therapeutic intervention. TMS works by having a pulse generator connected to a magnetic coil. The coil uses a magnetic field to conduct an electrical current to be sent to a specific area of the brain through the scalp. This method is non-invasive and well received by patients. Research is extending to its use for neuro-rehabilitation for conditions such as stroke, brain injury, and epilepsy.
To watch a video on TMS, you can follow this link from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. To learn about a patient experience of TMS, you can view Eric’s story here from the TMS Serenity Center for Depression.
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) – By using two electrode pads, saline, and a portable device, tDCS offers a method of neuromodulation using a low-intensity current. tDCS can either be facilitatory or inhibitory, depending on the kind of electrical current is being delivered. A target site on the brain is identified as well as a reference point for a complete stimulation circuit. tDCS has shown potential for depression relief, facilitating function post-stroke, and could be a pain-relieving intervention for people that have acquired a spinal cord injury.
To watch a video on how tDCS is done, look at this video.
Why are these techniques important?
Neurofeedback and neurostimulation rely on extensive research within neurophysiology, neurobiology, physics, engineering, and cognitive neuroscience. Researchers are asking questions to understand the specific mechanisms by which neurofeedback and neurostimulation work. Drug and behavioral interventions paired with these techniques are being done to provide effective treatments for a variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders.
Many therapy centers employ trained technicians to perform these procedures. With their increasing popularity, licensed medical professionals can take courses and attend hands-on training sessions. As neurofeedback and neurostimulation techniques are becoming more understood, more centers are offering these interventions within their facility.
Neurofeedback and neurostimulation offer promise for intervening on psychiatric and neurological disorders when other interventions are not effective. As clinicians begin to adapt neurofeedback and neurostimulation into therapeutic treatment plans, their therapy plans have changed. A clever innovation done using neurofeedback sessions is having a client perform cognitive exercises while a clinician monitors brain activity.
For materials that you can use as you conduct your neurofeedback or neurostimulation sessions, look at HappyNeuron Pro’s Free Worksheets. For a sample of digital tools, you can try HappyNeuron Pro for 15 days free.