Please see below for frequently asked questions. Please see Services for the full range of psychological and psychophysiological diagnostic testing, treatment, training, equipment and product offerings for HPI.
What is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance. Precise instruments in biomedical technology are used to measure physiological activity such as brainwaves, heart function, respiration, muscle activity, and skin conductance and temperature. These instruments rapidly and accurately “feed back” information to the user. The presentation of this information — often in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, behavior, and environment (e.g., nutrition and physical activity) — supports desired physiological changes. Over time, these changes can endure without continued use of an instrument and trainees gain increased self-regulation of the Central and Autonomic Nervous Systems.
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback, or EEG Biofeedback, is a form of biofeedback training that uses the EEG (Electroencephalogram), also known as the “brain wave” as the signal used to control feedback. Sensors applied to the trainee’s scalp record the brainwaves, which are converted into feedback signals by a human/machine interface using advanced computer software. By using visual, sound, or tactile feedback to produce operant conditioning of the brain, it can be used to improve functioning in a number of ways: for peak/optimal performance training in athletes, military, business and decision-making applications; as a complimentary and alternative tx for ADHD, sleep problems, migraines, seizures, anxiety, addiction, and other neurobiological dysregulations. A variety of additional benefits result from the improved ability to regulate the CNS (Central Nervous System).
Is this an empirically valid treatment based in scientific research?
In one word – yes! The history and growth of the field of applied psychophysiology and neuroscience is quite unique; increased attention in recent years has added to the clinical data.
For information on scientific data, clinical trials, and efficacy for specific conditions, please see the Research tab.
What occurs in a typical session?
In biofeedback, various sensors may be placed on the fingers, around the abdomen, on the shoulders or head, or on the scalp and ears in EEG biofeedback. These sensors measure physiological data signals and discrete changes within your physiology and brain; these signals are transmitted to an amplifier and then to a computer screen. The interface between the trainee and the computer may vary from direct self-regulation of signals to performing a task or playing a game via changing one’s physiological signals and brainwaves. The immediate feedback provided “tells” one’s body or brain whether it is responding optimally or functioning according to parameters set for training. Over time, physiological connections and neural pathways are established, strengthened, and better regulated.
There is no discomfort or breaking of the skin that occurs in either peripheral or eeg biofeedback. There is no electrical current applied to the cortex of the brain; only eeg signals are read and rewarded via feedback.
How does this training work?
Training the brain and body for optimal functioning is a process of learning and similarly, works via mechanisms of practice and reward. Rewarding the body for attaining certain physiological states and rewarding the brain for “making” certain waves or frequencies in specific locations can physiologically “lock in” ways of receiving, transmitting, and responding to incoming information.
Increased awareness and conscious ability to affect change within the brain and body enables improved self-regulation of your Peripheral and Central Nervous Systems (PNS & CNS). Scientists often times consider patterns of communication within the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), a branch of the PNS, as a way of explaining physiological functioning. Consider the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, a complex neuroendocrine feedback loop regulating stress reactions, impacting energy storage and consumption, organ activation and restoration, mood responses, and host of other processes—when chronically dysregulated, systemic neurobiological detriments occur to the brain and body. For this reason, many medications are aimed at intervening with the chemical process involved in this feedback loop. The beauty of you is this—you have the ability to intervene on these processes as well—it is just a matter of knowing how.
How does medication play a role? Can I take medication during training?
Any decision about medication should be a made by you and your prescribing physician. We know that medications can affect the brain and body in certain ways. For instance, a class of medications, Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) can increase heart rate, while others can suppress respiration and slow brain wave activity. Therefore, titrating down your dosages, should that be a treatment goal, is possible for many and requires oversight and collaboration with your other care providers.
Why is Board Certification important?
BCIA-certified professionals are internationally respected for several reasons.
1. BCIA is a non-profit institute that has been an effective advocate for our field. The American Psychological Association (APA) has recognized biofeedback as a proficiency in professional psychology because of the petition that BCIA filed with them. BCIA has been dedicated to a singular mission since 1981:
“BCIA certifies individuals who meet education and training standards in biofeedback and progressively recertifies those who advance their knowledge through continuing education.”
2. BCIA’s biofeedback certification is the only program that is recognized by the three major international membership organizations: the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB), the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (BFE), and the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR).
3. BCIA’s biofeedback certification is based on scientific evidence published in refereed journals. BCIA rejects narrow, unsubstantiated perspectives and the conflict of interest that exists when certification depends on a specific vendor’s equipment, databases, and protocols. BCIA certification is based on a reading list, Blueprint of Knowledge, and Professional Standards and Ethical Principles that were developed following an extensive job analysis and that are regularly updated by a task force of international authorities in biofeedback. BCIA continually gathers data to validate and revise its exams through the psychometric process to ensure the relevance, integrity, and value of the certification program.
4. BCIA’s biofeedback certification exam adheres to the highest psychometric standards; the exam is evaluated and revised on a regular basis. Several independent experts, who include clinicians and the most experienced educators in the field, regularly review exam items to ensure that the they represent key blueprint concepts, are sourced to the suggested reading list, and are psychometrically sound. BCIA regularly replaces outdated exam questions with new ones that are contributed by biofeedback authorities and then validated by BCIA certificants.
5. BCIA requires certificants adhere to one of the strongest ethical codes in the field. In addition, certificants are required to complete 3 hours of ethics continuing education when they renew their certification. BCIA’s rigorous ethical standards are one of the many reasons that our international colleagues have chosen BCIA biofeedback certification.
6. BCIA’s Board of Directors consists of clinicians, educators, and researchers who have guided the development of biofeedback. The Board includes leaders of the three major international membership organizations who have contributed decades of service to our field.