STEPS AND EXPLANATION OF THE NEUROFEEDBACK SESSION
STEP 1: Intial Set Up
You will need: (1) electrodes/sensors, (2) EEG amplifier, (3) special EEG software, and (4) computer.
Place the electrodes on the client’s head using the head chart as reference, if needed
(see REFERENCE TOOL: NEUROFEEDBACK HEAD CHART).
The electrodes will capture the client’s brain activity and that information will be transferred to the EEG amplifier and converted to data that will be delivered to the computer. It’s the computer that will decipher this converted data into information that your client will use in training their brain to control the feedback that is displayed.
STEP 2: Software Set Up
The mental health therapist will determine the goals that the client must reach. Once those are determined, the therapist will adjust the controls in the program that help that client meet those determined goals.
Here’s where EEG training and education comes in handy. Most therapists, psychologists, and clinicians will not have experienced EEG training or education in school, so a basic course on EEGs should be taken before proceeding with the use of this program.
It has also been noted that some clients perform more efficiently if they understand the process. If you sense that your client may be one of these individuals, take the time to explain the process to them. There is no evidence showing that knowledge of the process interferes with the results, so educating is allowed.
STEP 3: Software Interpretation
The software used during sessions is specialized and is the key to these sessions. The data that is sent from the EEG amplifier is converted by the software into visual and auditory aids. These aids are in the form of beeps, spectral activity bars, graphs, and games.
Here’s an example of how the software works:
A specific EEG band may be displayed showing the client where the activity should be held. Whenever the client is producing the correct amount of EEG activity to keep within the band, the program beeps alerting them that they are performing correctly and when the client is producing too much or too little EEG activity, the program does not beep. The goal is to hear the beeps.
STEP 4: Client Interpretation
Screens with games will appear for the client. Some therapists may also use their goal setting screen as a tool, either way the client will be given a visual aid.
The goal of the client is to get the EEG activity within the guidelines that the therapist determined. When the client is within the correct range a beep will be emitted. Whenever the client is outside of these ranges (too much or too little EEG activity) then no beep will be emitted. This process is a way of rewarding the brain for doing the correct activity.
Some clients may work really hard at trying to make something happen. That is not the goal and may actually deter results from happening. Instead, give your client these options and let them discover which method works best for them;
1. Focus on the screen and just “let things happen;”
2. Don’t think about the process and just “do;”
3. If paying attention to the screen is not working, then try not paying attention to the screen and just listen for the beeps; and/or
4. Close your eyes if you are battling with over-thinking the process.
The point is your brain will figure everything out since the reward system is set up to train the brain into performing the tasks correctly. Thinking about the process only interferes and will inhibit the client from training their brain. Instead of thinking, just play the games. Significant attention doesn’t even have to be given to the sound of the beeps. If the client states that they don’t’ even notice the beeps anymore, that doesn’t mean the brain isn’t still picking up the cues. The therapist should be monitoring this feature instead of the client. That will allow the client to just play.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND CONCERNS
1. How stimulating should the games be?
Determining how stimulating the games should be for the client is constantly an area of debate. In past history, results from sessions using simple games that did not provide much stimulation were very effective. The argument comes from the fact that the world has changed and our brains are constantly being stimulated with information and data throughout the day, therefore the games should reflect this trend. Additionally, it has been noted that children with ADD have better attention spans when they are overstimulated with information and lack interest the moment that stimulation lessens. Wouldn’t they profit from games that were more stimulating?
The choice is yours. New programs are being created and will soon be offered by companies such as Sony Playstation. Now therapists can decide what method works best for their client.
It must be noted that there is no conclusive evidence showing that one method works better than another. Time and research will tell us the answer in the future. For the time being, there is no evidence showing that either method does harm.
2. Does the client have to possess a certain level of attention in order to see results?
Experienced therapists have noticed that there is no indication that the client has to have any level of attention in order to gain positive results from sessions. Inattentive and children who become easily bored show progress using the simplest games. In addition, there are a number of games that can be accessed, so changing it up from time to time can eliminate some sense of boredom if the client states that is the case.