By Sharon Niv, Ph.D.
As discussed in this post, there are many potential applications for neurofeedback. The potential for use in children with ADHD has already been elaborated upon, and many individuals find the prospect of treating under-active frontal lobes without stimulant medication very appealing. But there is no reason that Beta wave training would be useful only for individuals with ADHD – applications available for Mindwave, Muse, or Epoc also allow individuals to increase their capacity for concentration. What other uses may be useful to an average person’s life?
1. Brain Training
Beyond just enhancing concentration, these commercial headsets also provide applications for increasing relaxation through enhancing Alpha wave ratios. There are also ‘Peak Performance’ applications, which allow for maximized relaxation and concentration both.
There are some interesting studies that support the idea of cognitive and performance enhancement through neurofeedback. For example neurofeedback has been found to enhane the performance of:
It may be that brain training will become as prevalent as physical training, as more research emerges about the potency of the method.
The Center for Disease Control reports that 50-70 Americans suffer from insomnia. Neurofeedback has been found to ease insomnia in several studies, and may be a preferable method to medication, which can lead to dependence.
3. Mood enhancement
The incidence of depression and anxiety in the United States is high, with 10-15% of adults estimated to experience major depression at some point in their lifetime, and 40 million Americans estimated to currently suffer from anxiety (www.CDC.gov). In addition to diagnosable conditions, many of us feel as though we would benefit from mood enhancement and a calmer mind. It’s been found that positive mood, openness, and engagement are correlated with more left frontal brain activity, whereas depression is more correlated with right frontal left activity. One neurofeedback approach has emerged to teach individuals to produce more left than right prefrontal activity. This approach has been found to produce long-lasting depression relief for as long as five years, and has proved successful in a randomized control trial, the gold standard of clinical research. These may be ways to teach the brain how to be happier intrinsically, and may represented longer-term change.
These represent just some ways in which brain training may be beneficial to different individuals. As more research takes place, more brain training approaches may emerge.