Neurofeedback: what is this technique that allows you to self-regulate your brain activity?

What if we could strengthen our brain to counter the undesirable effects of its natural functioning? This is the postulate of a research still in progress, called “neurofeedback”, which tries to educate the brain to fight against its negative inclinations. Explanations.

Teach the brain to deny nausea

Recently, researchers published a study dans la revue Clinical Nursing Research on a very small number of patients, to whom they made listen to their favorite music in parallel with chemotherapy. The idea was to see if music could have a favorable effect on the brain, to counter the harmful effects of treatments, such as nausea.

Concretely, they listened to music at the same time as they took a drug to fight against their nausea. Then, each time they felt like throwing up for the next five days, they repeated the experiment, with the same music. And it turned out that the nausea was less present, because the latter would be more linked to a neurological process, than gastric. And that’when listening to music, neurons would produce molecules that are quite effective in “countering” nauseanamely serotonin and dopamine.

Neurofeedback, what is it?

If this study is not very successful, in particular because it concerns only 12 patients, it is reminiscent of an ongoing research on a process called “neurofeedback”, with the aim of self-regulating our brain activity ourselves, to relieve us of symptoms endured by the brain. There Federation for Brain Research stresses: “ADD/HD is the disorder most targeted by Neurofeedback treatments today, but this approach also applies to a variety of other disorders such as epilepsy, depression, autism.”

The aim is to provide a non-drug therapeutic approach to brain activity re-education. The patient is followed by an electroencephalogram, a device that measures and records the electrical activity of the brain. This method is done in the form ofexercises that can be visual or auditory and which will come to stimulate the electrical signals which are in the brain.

This device is used for patients with ADHD, which prevents them from concentrating on an activity for a set period of time. As explained by Vania Herbillon, neuropsychologist at the Hospices de Lyon in a report signed France 3, “ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder linked to an immaturity of the pre-frontal cortex, which causes a drop in voluntary attention that makes it difficult for the child to select relevant information”. Throughout his life, the patient will have to compensate for this natural inclination of his brain to detach from the activity.

And this is where the neurofeedback device comes in, based in this specific case on a particular wave emitted by the brain, called P300, which characterizes attention. In this case, the child is equipped withabout fifteen electrodes that will allow him to play a video game, with a computer as the opponent. The game is a power of 4, and the child must succeed in aligning 4 tokens of the same color despite flashes sent to the other columns. You train your brain to focus on a color and a column to achieve a goal.

Sources: France 3, Clinical Nursing Research, Federation for Brain Research

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