Psychophysiology is the study of the mind-body connection, such as the changes that occur to the body when a person experiences particular thoughts or emotions.
Biofeedback is a technique used in psychophysiology where a psychophysiologist trains a person to alter their brain activity, blood pressure, muscle tension, heart rate or other bodily functions by being "fed back" information about what was occurring in their bodies in either a visual or audible way. For example, an electroencephalograph (EEG) can pick up electrical signals from contracting muscles, which then activates a particular sound or a flashing light. To reduce this muscle tension or to relax, the person must mentally try to slow the frequency of sounds or flashes. Once they are able to associate their muscle contractions with their tension levels, they can control the length and degree of tension without being having to be attached to the biofeedback sensors.
Neurotherapy involves the EEG (electroencephalography) sensors to be placed on the person’s scalp and ears to measure brainwave activity. Neurotherapy practitioners teach the client to change his or her brainwave activity by playing computerized games similar to something like Pac Man. Figures on the computer move through the maze whenever the person produces specific brainwave patterns. Through this method, clients learn to change their brainwave activity.
Some of the conditions that may benefit from biofeedback are:
- Migraines and headaches
- Chronic pain
- Sleep Disorders
- Some forms of depression and anxiety
- Digestive disorders
- Cardiac arrhythmias (abnormalities in the rhythm of the heartbeat)
- Paralysis, spinal cord injury, and other movement disorders.
Side effects, though rare, may include temporary tiredness or dizziness. Many individuals report a heightened sense of control and relaxation during and after treatment sessions. The length of treatment varies between individuals; many people reporting progress with as few as ten sessions, but effective treatment usually requires twenty to forty sessions. Neurotherapy has been reported to be effective when sessions are initially received three times per week, followed by two weekly sessions, and to ensure progress, it is recommended that clients receive at least one session per week as a follow-up.
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