Evidence-Based Practice in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback

Biofeedback is a mind-body therapy using electronic instruments to help individuals gain awareness and control over psychophysiological processes (Gilbert & Moss, 2003; Moss, 2001; Schwartz & Andrasik, 2003). Biofeedback instruments measure muscle activity, skin temperature, electrodermal activity, respiration, heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure, brain electrical activity, and brain blood flow. Research shows that biofeedback, alone and in combination with other behavioral therapies, is effective for treating a variety of medical and psychological disorders, ranging from headache to hypertension to temporo-mandibular to attentional disorders. The present publication surveys these applications, and reviews relevant outcome research. Biofeedback is used by physicians, nurses, psychologists, counselors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and others. Biofeedback therapies guide the individual to facilitate the learning of voluntary control over body and mind, and take a more active role in maintaining personal health and higher level mind-body wellness.

Neurofeedback is a specialty field within biofeedback, which devotes itself to training control over electro-chemical processes in the human brain (LaVaque, 2003; Evans & Abarbanel, 1999). Neurofeedback uses a feedback electroencephalogram (EEG) to show the trainee current electrical patterns in his or her cortex. Many neurological and medical disorders are accompanied by abnormal patterns of cortical activity. Neurofeedback assessment uses a baseline EEG, and sometimes a multi-site quantitative EEG (QEEG), to identify abnormal patterns (LaVaque, 2003). Clinical training with feedback EEG then enables the individual to modify those patterns, normalizing or optimizing brain activity. Neurofeedback practice is growing rapidly, with the widest acceptance for applications to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, seizures, depression, acquired brain injuries, substance abuse, and anxiety (Clinical EEG, 2000).

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