Biofeedback versus Neurofeedback
Biofeedback is peripheral while neurofeedback is about the central nervous system.
Biofeedback: Peripheral Nervous System
Neurofeedback: Central Nervous System
Imagine holding a sensitive digital thermometer in your hand. A
thermometer so sensitive that you can see it bouncing up and down,
apparently by itself. But it is accurate, your hand temperature
varies slightly moment to moment.
If you direct your attention to relaxation by loosening any tension
in your hand, the blood flow increases. With warm blood flow the
temperature goes up. A hand temperature of 94.5є F or above is
often associated with general relaxation and a sense of well being.
That is one kind of peripheral biofeedback. A useful skill to
be sure, especially when it can be tapped at challenging times.
However, peripheral biofeedback is limited. Not everyone can
attain the state or acquire the skill, and it does not have a lasting
effect. On the other hand, neurofeedback allows you to make
enduring improvements in how the central nervous system functions.
Since 1949, biofeedback has involved monitoring and feeding back
information about the psycho physiological state. Traditional
biofeedback uses peripheral based measures like EDR, TEMP, EMG, BVP, and
Respiratory Waveform to monitor and feed back information about the
status of these peripheral measures of sympathetic nervous system
activity. Clients are trained to become familiar with eliciting these
states, which they must consciously remember to do in their day to day
Since 1970, neurofeedback has ascended in value because it monitors
and feeds back information about activity in the central nervous system
(CNS). The brain is at the center of virtually every
self-regulatory loop and process in humans. Monitoring and feeding back
information about CNS status results in rapid and robust changes because
you are influencing psychophysiology at its core.
The effects of training the central nervous system, radiate
throughout the system. However, peripheral training may or may not
generalize to influence the more central processes. For instance, many
clinicians have used temperature feedback to alleviate migraines.
Training the client to increase their peripheral temperature as measured
at the fingertip, foot and/or stomach, leads to a decrease in the
duration, intensity and frequency of migraines in many clients.
However, it is not easy for most clients to learn this skill, and
they must continue to practice the skill outside of the office, or else
the training effect is likely to fade away over time. When this happens,
migraines can begin to re-emerge. Additionally, there is no clear
connection between changes in peripheral temperatures and other, more
central changes in the brain.
Neurofeedback, on the other hand, directly trains the functioning of
the CNS, which is where migraines occur. Decades of clinical
experience consistently show that the training effect maintains and
proliferates without conscious practice on the part of the client.
During neurofeedback, the brain receives the information it needs to
re-establish its intrinsic healthy chaos, and so does not create
migraines. In particular, we have found that training to decrease
amplitude in the range of 3-5 Hz and 23-38 Hz bilaterally while
simultaneously increasing amplitude at 14 Hz on the right side and 15-18
Hz on the left side, virtually eliminates migraines.
In other words, to experience a migraine the CNS must produce
elevated amplitude levels in the 3-5 Hz and 23-28 Hz ranges bilaterally
with relatively decreased amplitude levels at 14 Hz on the right and
15-18 Hz on the left.