Gerald Spindel, M.D., host of the “Eye On Health” series, recently interviewed neurofeedback expert Edward Jacobs, PhD. Dr. Jacobs is Board Certified in Neurofeedback (BCN) and practices psychology in southern New Hampshire. Dr. Jacobs, a polished and knowledgeable speaker, provides a balanced overview of neurofeedback and its use in the treatment of various disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), substance abuse, and autism. Included in this report is the original, 4-part video interview that spans approximately 45 minutes.
Below are each of the 4-videos with a brief summary of the various topics discussed as well as some additional closing comments.
Dr. Edward Jacobs Interview on Neurofeedback (Part 1; 11:00).
In Part 1, Dr. Jacobs explains that neurofeedback is a “brain wave biofeedback” technique that trains the brain to regulate attention, emotional states, and processing. He further discusses neurofeedback basics with specific relevance to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism, including a review of common symptoms and behavioral problems. Dr. Jacobs’ does a good job explaining the always complicated topic of brainwaves (i.e., delta, theta, beta, etc.), their relevance to emotional and behavioral disturbances, and why neurofeedback can improve symptoms through modified brainwave activity.
Dr. Edward Jacobs Interview on Neurofeedback (Part 2; 11:42).
Part two continues with an overview of how typical neurofeedback sessions are conducted, including the various types of feedback rewards (games, videos, etc.), treatment frequency, and learning curves. He also discusses the use of quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) to guide and improve neurofeedback protocol selection.
Dr. Edward Jacobs Interview on Neurofeedback (Part 3; 10:32).
Part 3 switches focus to autism, including current neurofeedback effectiveness research with this challenging population. Dr. Jacobs points out that neurofeedback will not “cure” Autism, but instead can improve core symptoms, such as poor social skills and emotional regulation. He also speaks about the challenges of public acceptance of neurofeedback and admits that a generally slow release of research is one contributing factor.
Dr. Edward Jacobs Interview on Neurofeedback (Part 4; 8:58).
In Part 4, the benefits and potential drawbacks of ADHD medication, particularly stimulant medication, receive a brief comparison and contrast to neurofeedback. Dr. Jacobs talks about how the benefits of neurofeedback treatment are sometimes difficult for patients to detect and self-report, and that some patients’ initial awareness of gains may come about when family and friends start to make comments about positive behavioral changes. He also notes that many patients who receive neurofeedback experience sleep improvements even if they did not enter treatment for sleep-related difficulties.
These observations are consistent with an unpublished study from Johnson and Bodenhamer-Davis (2009) at the University Of North Texas who used a time-series analysis to show that many patients report sleep improvements (even if they did not have initial sleep complaints) as early as the 15th neurofeedback session.
Dr. Jacobs ends the Part 4 with a brief mention of hemoencephalography (HEG).
Last, this video series is excellent resource for clinicians who want to provide patients with a trustworthy introduction to the neurofeedback process and its potential benefits.
Johnson, M. L., & Bodenhamer-Davis, E. (2009). Neurofeedback improves sleep: A time series analysis, poster presentation presented at the Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback Conference, Albuquerque, NM.