Neurofeedback vs Biofeedback - what’s the difference?
When starting to delve into the fields of body and brain informed feedback, it can be overwhelming to understand what the difference is between the forms of feedback and therefore which form of feedback is best suited for your goals. In this post, we will break down the difference between biofeedback and neurofeedback. Then, we will discuss clinician implications of each form of feedback to help you make an informed decision on your care.
The Definition of Biofeedback
Biofeedback is a process used to monitor and measure the body’s physiological functions, such as heart rate, skin temperature, muscle tension, brain mapping and breathing. The data collected from the monitoring is then fed back to the patient to help them become more aware of their bodies and how they can influence their physical and mental states through relaxation techniques. Through these methods, biofeedback therapy can help to improve a person’s health and wellbeing.
The Definition of Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback works by monitoring electrical activity in the brain, usually through sensors placed on the scalp. This allows therapists to observe patterns of activity and detect any abnormalities in the brain’s functioning. Through this process, the therapist can provide feedback to the patient about their brain activity and help them learn to regulate it in order to reduce symptoms of their condition.
The side effects of neurofeedback are generally mild, with most patients reporting feeling relaxed during treatment. However, as with any form of therapy, it is important to discuss potential risks with your healthcare provider before beginning treatment. In addition, some people may experience headaches or nausea from the feedback received during neurofeedback sessions.
Is biofeedback therapy legitimate?
Biofeedback is a legitimate therapy that has been used for decades to help people manage mental and physical health problems. Biofeedback uses brain mapping technology to measure the activity in certain areas of the brain and then provide feedback in real-time to the patient. This feedback helps people learn how to control their body responses to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
Not only is biofeedback legitimate, but it is safe and works with the natural rhythm of the body and brain. Rather than inputting an external substance (think medication, or any type of drug) that may mask a problem associated with a symptom...biofeedback teaches the body to regulate itself. The results of biofeedback are long lasting and safer than many alternative forms of treatment.
Biofeedback has been used for centuries to treat a variety of conditions. In the early 1900s, experiments conducted by physiologist Walter Cannon demonstrated the concept of involuntary control over bodily functions. This paved the way for further exploration into biofeedback as an alternative treatment approach.
In the 1960s, biofeedback began to gain momentum in the field of psychology and neuroscience. Researchers used new technology to study brain activity and measure feedback from the body to explore different mental and physical states. This type of brain mapping technology allowed researchers to measure changes in a person’s breathing, temperature, heart rate, and muscle tension in response to various stimuli. The data gathered from these experiments provided evidence that the body can learn how to control its own physiological processes through conscious effort.
Neurofeedback and Biofeedback for Anxiety
Anxiety can be a debilitating condition, and for those seeking treatment for their anxiety, Neurofeedback and Biofeedback therapies offer safe, non-invasive alternatives to traditional treatment options. Neurofeedback and Biofeedback have been used to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety for years.
Neurofeedback for anxiety uses something called brain mapping and EEG (electroencephalography) technology to detect patterns of electrical activity in the brain and then uses that information to adjust the individual's behavior. This type of therapy has been found to be successful in decreasing the symptoms of anxiety in both adults and children.
In session, electrodes are placed on the head in spots that correspond with the location of the brain that need to be trained. Auditory and visual feedback are offered through a series of "beeps" and "dings" that teach the brain over time to relax.
Biofeedback is a type of therapy that focuses on self-regulation through physical and mental processes. It teaches individuals how to control certain physiological functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, and muscle tension, which can all be affected by anxiety. This form of therapy has been found to be successful in reducing symptoms of anxiety as well.
While both Neurofeedback and Biofeedback therapies offer potential benefits in treating anxiety, it is important to note that neither therapy is a “cure-all” for anxiety. Individuals who choose to use either type of therapy should be aware that there may be side effects associated with the use of either neurofeedback or biofeedback, including nausea, headaches, dizziness, and even seizures. As with any medical treatment, individuals should discuss potential side effects with their healthcare provider before beginning any therapy
Are Neurofeedback and Biofeedback Safe?
Yes! Neurofeedback and biofeedback are both considered to be safe based on research and clinician experience. The side effects of both neurofeedback and biofeedback are generally minimal and rare. Neurofeedback can cause headaches or fatigue in some people, while biofeedback can cause skin irritation from the sensors. However, overall, both treatments are considered safe with few risks.
Getting Started with Neurofeedback and Biofeedback
It is important to consult with licensed professionals who have experience with neurofeedback and biofeedback prior to getting started with a program. The team at Connected Brain Counseling consists of Licensed Professional Counselors who are trained in neurofeedback and are ready to help you start feeling better.