What Makes Direct Neurofeedback Different From Traditional Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback, both direct and traditional, involves a few sensors being placed on the scalp to measure electrical activity of the brain in the form of brainwaves and generate an electroencephalogram (EEG).  Neurofeedback is used to reduce or increase specific brainwave frequencies depending on the area of concern.  The brainwaves captured by the EEG are then transmitted to a computer screen.

With direct neurofeedback, the electrical activity from the brain is analyzed to determine the frequency of a signal that will be sent back to the brain.  This signal causes tiny fluctuations in brainwave patterns and allows the brain to get out of frozen, stuck patterns and reorganize itself, assisting the brain back into a healthy, balanced state.  It’s like rebooting a frozen computer.  Clients do not do anything other than sit quietly for a few moments.  The brief, tiny signal to the brain does all the work.

On the other hand, with many kinds of traditional neurofeedback, the brainwaves are presented to the client in the form of a video game or movie on the screen.  The client then attempts to alter their brainwaves by training the mind based on the feedback from the computer screen.  With traditional neurofeedback, it is “the mind” trying to affect “the brain”.  No direct signal is sent back to the brain.

Direct neurofeedback promotes a healthy, resilient nervous system rather than a treatment for a specific disease.  In addition, with direct neurofeedback, clients generally notice changes either immediately or within the first two or three sessions.  More immediate results, fewer and shorter sessions, and the ease and simplicity all distinguish direct neurofeedback from traditional neurofeedback.

For a quick reference of the differences, below is a summary:

Direct Neurofeedback

  • Client rests as the neurofeedback does the work
  • Very small signal sent back to the brain
  • Disrupts stuck brainwave patterns, allowing the brain to get back into a healthy, balanced state
  • Initial results noticed in 1-3 sessions
  • Sessions last 30 minutes
  • Initial treatment typically 15-20 sessions total

Traditional Neurofeedback

  • Client actively engaged in process of changing brainwave frequencies
  • No signal sent back to the brain
  • Trains the brain to create more desirable brainwave patterns
  • Initial results noticed in 6-10 sessions
  • Sessions last 45-60 minutes
  • Initial treatment typically 30-40 sessions total