Neuro Feedback


Neurotherapy is a tool to enrich the brain. The mind depends upon healthy brain metabolism when attempting to draw conclusions and make changes. The neuro therapist records the trainee's biological data in the form of electroencephalograph (EEG) activity or regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF). Neurofeedback is a comprehensive treatment system that works directly with the brain. Each of us has a countless number of neurons in our cerebrum. Brain waves are associated with the electrical activation and deactivation of neurons. They cycle up and down, over and over again. The trainee is given feedback precisely at the time when the cycle of brain waves moves into a desirable pattern.
This is quite popular intervention in Anxiety Disorders, stress reduction, insomnia, performance enhancement of the brain, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and so on.


Developed by the godfather of Hemoencephalography, Dr. Hershel Toomim, near infrared (nIR) Hemoencephalography measures changes in the local oxygenation level of the blood. 

HEG (hemoencephalography) is the study of blood flow in the brain. More specifically, HEG neurofeedback is the study of voluntarily controlled brain blood flow and corresponding changes (in oxygenation) that are fed back to the user. HEG neurofeedback is different from typical brain exercises in that HEG neurofeedback training targets brain areas (usually in the prefrontal cortex)that correspond with particular challenges. For example, certain areas of the brain do certain things; the prefrontal cortex (pfc) is involved with executive functions such as attention, organization and planning. You can think of the pfc as the captain of the ship and the rest of the brain as the crew; the pfc integrates and analyses incoming information and by way of neuronal connectivity, and mediates other brain area functions with the goal of optimizing survival.

It is considered one of the important therapeutic intervention across the globe. In this therapy, the prefrontal cortex (pfc) is targeted. In other words, this frontal lobe itself is known as a seat of civilization by neuroscientists. What differentiates us from other species is the prefrontal cortex which is bigger in size and most developed. This is the reason that the human being is intellectual species compare to all living creatures on the earth.

The frontal lobes are considered emotional control centre and home to personality. The frontal lobes are involved in motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, planning, decision making, complex thinking, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behaviour.

HEG Neurofeedback is a kind of exercise for the brain via frontal lobe. During the course of therapy, the patient has to concentrate on the video played on the computer system. Due to this, the target region requires more fuel in the form of glucose and sugar which will be provided through carrier in the form of oxygenated blood. Since it is a kind of training cum therapy for brain, as the time progresses there is a visible improvement in the patient's behaviour.


Dr. Robert Coben in 2006 studied efficacy of HEG Neurofeedback for 28 children on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Just in 20 training sessions of HEG-NFB, 90% of the children under study showed clinically significant improvements across crucial developmental parameters:

  • 42% reduction in autistic symptoms on ATEC
  • 43% reduction in social interaction deficits
  • 47% reduction in communication deficits
  • 44% reduction in sensory/cognitive deficits
  • 39% reduction in behavior deficits

       Statistically significant (p < .05)improvements in neuro-behavioral and cognitive functioning


A series of case studies conducted by Limsila et al. (2004) analyzed the effects of HEG neurofeedback in 180 children (ages 3 to 18) diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers noted that following 40 sessions of NIR-HEG at the sites FP1 andFP2, brain oxygen levels had increased by 53%.  It was noted that nearly 86% of these children increased their GPA after HEG training.

Other research by Cohen in 2006 analyzed the effects of HEG on patients with autism spectrum disorder and anxiety disorders.  This was a controlled study in which 40patients were non-randomly assigned to receive: NIR-HEG, PIR-HEG, or served as a control by being added to a wait-list.  While all patients had already completed 20 sessions of EEG neurofeedback before HEG, significant improvement was reported.

Specifically, improvements were noted as: 42% reduction in autistic symptoms, 55% decrease in social deficits, and 90% improvement as reported by parents. Individuals had significantly improved in both neuropsychological and behavioral functioning. QEEG readings suggested that brain waves appeared to have normalized.

NIR-HEG was found to have more benefit for attention, while PIR-HEG was suggested to offer more benefit for emotional regulation and social skills. NIR-HEG differed from PIR-HEG in terms of QEEG activation and outcomes.

Cognitive function:

Some research suggests that HEG neurofeedback is capable of improving cognitive performance.  Those with cognitive deficits are thought to derive benefit from HEG training, but those without sufficient benefits may find HEG training acts as a cognitive enhancer.  The theory is that by increasing cerebral blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, a person will experience greater activation of that region and ultimately better performance.

A study conducted by Toomim, Mize, Kwong et al. discovered that after 10 HEG sessions for 30 minutes, individuals with neurological deficits including Anxiety Disorders increased their attention and decreased impulsivity.  The degree of improvement among participants was evidenced by improvement in TOVA scores from baseline.

Literature reviews reveal that many brain function challenges are rooted in pfc executive function failure. For example, impulse control issues (associated with ADHD) are generally marked by pfc trouble including hypo profuse. 

Active brain areas are marked by high oxygen density and higher than normal temperature. Simple measurements can locate active brain areas. Note here that we have no sense that tells us where an active area is located. For example when we stand, activity occurs in the motor strip across the top of the head, but we have no sensation with information about the exact location of that active bit of brain tissue.

From infancy on, we have learned to use specific parts of the brain for accomplishing familiar tasks. We carry out the same learning process for anything new. We may want to do something we see others do or we try to do something that seems possible. Initially we accomplished it by trial and error. In trying, we find some modicum of success. We are encouraged, so we try again and again. We improve as we go and our brains reinforce and expand the existing neural network.

HEG neurofeedback gives the trainee greater control over the flow of blood and the density of oxygenation at the chosen scalp location. Blood flow provides the brain with oxygen and glucose. The flow of blood also acts as a cooling system for the brain, similar to the work done by the radiator and cooling system in an automobile. On the one hand, diaphragmatic breathing and practicing inverted yoga likely improve overall blood circulation in the brain, which may give one the sensation of being "clearheaded" (Francina,1997, p.21). On the other hand, during task performance cerebral blood flow(CBF) increases to Sptci/ic areas of the brain. If a specific region of the brain does not receive adequate blood flow at the right time, then the functions associated with that region will be compromised (Springer &Deutsch, 1998, p. 72 ).

 Advantages of HEG Neurofeedback

There are several advantages associated with using HEG neurofeedback over other methods like EEG neurofeedback.

Accuracy: The accuracy of HEG is considered superior to that of EEG due to the fact that there is reduced likelihood of external interference. Having a metal object in the area or other electrical signal may disrupt the results of an EEG, whereas they won't disrupt an HEG.

Cost: The cost of HEG neurofeedback sessions can be effective in long run compare to medical treatments or any other interventions available in the market.

Interpretation: It is relatively easy to interpret the neurofeedback signal from HEG compared to EEG. This is due to the fact that the signal is stable the entire time and you are only dealing with a single variable.

Less side effects: Those engaged in EEG neurofeedback run the risk of training the wrong frequencies in certain regions. Poor training without the use of a QEEG can result in performance deficits and possible neurofeedback side effects HEG neurofeedback by comparison is safer and unlikely to impede performance or result in any side effects.

Non-Invasive: HEG neurofeedback involves wearing a headband-like device and is non-invasive. You don't need to take any pharmaceutical pills, or sever open the skull to collect information.  The feedback signal is attained from light frequencies capable of penetrating the skull.

Self-training: The beauty of HEG neurofeedback is that it's so straightforward that you can conduct training sessions yourself. While working with an expert practitioner is always preferred, it's much tougher for something to go wrong during self-HEG training compared to EEG training.

Simplicity: Most HEG units are small, easy to set up, and training sessions can be performed in the comfort of your own home.

Applicability: HEG NFB is effective wide range of brain related issues starting from Anxiety disorders, stress reduction, migraine, memory issues to Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD), ADHD, Learning Disorders, Dementia to name a few.

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