This is a form of behaviour therapy which relies on principles of classical conditioning and operant conditioning, which, broadly speaking, include the following steps:
- EEG sensors/ electrodes are placed on the client’s head to record brainwaves, in the same way as is done when doing a routine EEG assessment.
- The EEG events are projected onto a computer screen which the client can see. In other words, the state of the brain is being "fed back" to the client.
- Instead of the client being shown the usual squiggly lines on the computer screen, the software converts the EEG result in the form of graphics or a computer game.
- These graphics reflect, in real-time, the state and activity of the client’s brain.
- They show whether or not, for example, whether the client is producing too much or too little electrical energy in one or several locations on the brain.
- Certain aspects or patterns of brain activity correlate with the symptoms or problems which necessitated consultation in the first place. In some instances of ADD/ ADHD for example, clients produce too much slow brainwave activity (theta rhythm) relative to production of faster brain-wave activity (beta rhythm).
- The client is then trained to create desirable brain states, such as more faster brainwaves vs slow waves, and is then rewarded by success on the computer game. This is an example of the application of operant conditioning.
The neurofeedback treatment requires a minimum of 2 to 3 days a week for weeks or months. This is much like entering a gym training program for muscle or endurance training. Success depends on regular and consistent training.