What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a technique to exercise the brain. It is a
non-invasive method of brain training.
Spectrum Learning was the first to offer neurofeedback in Asia,
beginning in 1995. At Spectrum Learning, we believe that managing
conditions effectively is a joint effort between the client
and therapist. Our neurofeedback therapists are highly
experienced with special needs children. They are coaches,
providing guidance and motivation throughout the training
programme to achieve optimal levels of progress.
Pioneered by Prof. Barry Sterman from the University of
California, Los Angeles in the early 1970s, neurofeedback is
known to be effective in training our brain directly by
analysing our brain waves and providing the client with
positive feedback during training. Initially, it was first used
to treat patients with epilepsy, but has developed drastically
since. Spectrum Learning’s in-house research and training, together
with 25 years of experience, has developed training protocol
for a variety of intervention programmes.
Inside a session
Sensors are placed on the scalp to detect brain
waves at specific locations. This is safe and
non-invasive, as signals are only being measured;
no signals are discharged into the brain.
The brainwaves detected are amplified and converted
into controls of a computer game. The trainee uses
their brainwaves to control the computer game, which
is triggered when the trainee produces the desired
brainwave patterns determined by the specific
training protocol. Gradually, over sufficient
training sessions, the trainee learns to regulate
brain activity on their own, leading to improved
History of Neurofeedback
The early applications of neurofeedback started in the field of epilepsy.
Prof. Barry Sterman was able to help many patients with epilepsy to stop
having seizures with neurofeedback. This technique is so powerful that
many with severe epilepsy who do not respond to medication were ‘cured’.
For these patients, their epileptic seizures stopped and became seizure free
even two years after they had stopped neurofeedback.
Prof. Joel Lubar, from the University of Tennessee, was the first to use
neurofeedback to treat children with ADHD. He showed that neurofeedback was
as effective as Ritalin medication, and it does not have the undesirable
side-effects of medication. Prof. Lubar’s work spawned an enormous amount
of research on the use of neurofeedback to treat ADHD.
It was soon discovered that neurofeedback also has a positive impact on our
mental functioning such as learning ability, mood, sleep and behaviour.
There is evident a vast amount of scientific studies and clinical observations
accumulated since the early 1970s on how neurofeedback can improve our brain
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to see an effect?
It varies between individuals. Some report progress in just ten sessions. Others typically require 20 to 40 sessions to see visible improvements. Neurofeedback is a learning process and it takes time.
Do note that there are several factors that affect the efficacy and length of this therapy. One of them is the motivation of the trainee. Neurofeedback is not an automatic process, it requires effort of the trainee to try to alter his/her brainwaves. Usually, we see those who put in effort (to score points) tend to improve faster compared with those who are not. Those with high toxic metal accumulation in the body (which could be determined using Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis) also tends to take longer time to respond to this training. Toxic metals have great impact on one’s learning ability.
During the training session, the person appears to be engaged in games, but when it comes to studying, will this brain exercise help one to focus?
Yes. During the brain exercise one learns how to regulate his/her brainwaves. Over time, once the person starts to internalize the learning process, he/she will be able to produce the desirable brainwave patterns independently in one’s daily activities, without needing any cues from the Neurofeedback system.
How frequent will Neurofeedback sessions be?
We would recommend at least two to three sessions per week for initial stage of training. Training can gradually reduce to 1 or twice a week when one starts to internalise this learning process and can control his/her brainwaves better.
Are there any side-effects with Neurofeedback?
No. Neurofeedback is considered a safe and non-invasive method. Compared to the conventional use of drugs and medical intervention, Neurofeedback produces effect less immediate but at the same time is safe from negative side-effects. Lack of negative side-effects is a major reason for the use of Neurofeedback, e.g. in ADHD cases where practitioners use Neurofeedback to slowly wean their patient off medication such as Ritalin etc. This is done under medical supervision.
Can this training applied to very young child?
Yes, we do work with children as young as 4 years old. To get them engaged, feedback such as video or music that are attractive to them are being played. They would be watching the video and attempting to play it. This happens quite instinctively.