Imagine being comfortably seated in a chair watching our favorite movie. However, there seems to be a problem with the quality of the video, that is, the color contrast is very low, so the figures are hardly distinguishable. Suddenly, the contrast increases and the film is finally able to see well but it is only for a moment. Then it happens again, almost by accident, but once again the contrast is lowered.
If you were able to control the situation (for example by changing the screen settings), you would certainly do so in order to be able to enjoy the film in the best conditions. Now imagine that there are sensors that detect brain activity and make sure that the screen shows the frames in good quality (increased contrast) only when our neurons behave well as if enjoying the film was the prize for the brain doing a good job.
For this reason, it is impossible to trivialize one of the many ways to apply neurofeedback lens therapy, a biofeedback technique with EEG (electroencephalogram) that trains people to acquire control and modulate their electrophysiological processes and beyond. Several neurological and psychological diseases are associated with abnormal patterns of cerebral cortex activity.
People with Alzheimer’s disease, for example, exhibit increased slow-wave (or low-frequency) brain activity – associated with poor brain activation – proportionally to high-frequency wave activity, which is produced, for example, during tasks requiring focused attention.
One of the applications of neurofeedback lens therapy is aimed at changing these patterns, employing mechanisms that allow to increase or decrease the presence of certain types of brain waves, leading to a clinical-cognitive improvement and an increase in general well-being.
Preliminary results published in a clinical neurophysiology journal have shown that training with neurofeedback can counteract cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease. When their patterns of brain activity improved, the contrast of the film they looked at simultaneously increased and this constituted a reinforcement that led the brain to reproduce the same pattern both in the experimental situation and in other life contexts.
Patients who followed the training showed after only four months of performance improvements in memory tasks compared to a control group that did not follow training. Moreover, the other cognitive functions remained stable, unlike what happened to the control group in which the decline progressed, leading to a progressive worsening.
Although further studies are needed, these early results seem to promise well that adequately structured neurofeedback training, in combination with drug treatment, may be a valuable therapy by which to significantly slow cognitive impairment of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Neurofeedback is a method theoretically aimed at applying the principles of Biofeedback (BFB) to the self-modulation of some CNS functions (Central Nervous System). This self-control would be facilitated through the information deriving from the electroencephalogram (EEG) elaborated by a computer.
The computer displays with a delay of a few milliseconds the electroencephalogram of the subject, thus providing a feedback in real time of its electroneurophysiological processes, and thus helping them to try to modulate them. When the modification takes place in the desired direction, the subject is positively reinforced (for example, with a sound). In this way, thanks to a continuous exercise, according to the proponents of the method it should be possible to practice this form of self-regulation regularly.
For this reason it is possible to associate neurofeedback with various forms of psychotherapy. It should not have any particular side effects: no pharmacological substances are introduced, neither electric currents nor magnetic fields of any kind are introduced. Therapy, therefore, is based on the patient’s active perception, which progressively learns to modulate his brain activity under the guidance of the therapist and the computer.
The brain of every person produces electrical activity, and brainwaves of different frequencies are associated with different mental states. A sudden manifestation of slow waves (Alpha or Theta), during the course of an action, may indicate that the individual is diverting attention for a moment from the current task.