What are the Limitations of Neurofeedback?
As with anything in life there are some limitations and Neurofeedback has its own as well. First lets point out one important fact which is that Neurofeedback works and when it does not work there must be a good reason for it. Even if you have some of the following items below it is best to have a brain map done to assess where your brain is at. The following bullet points are often what is discovered while doing Neurofeedback. Through awareness and by reducing and various things that limit us, then the training becomes stronger and more effective.
Here are a list of some basic elements which appear to reduce the overall effectiveness of Neurofeedback training.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol. If consumed regularly alcohol will act as a neurotoxin to the brain and make it difficult to make many gains. However, in the beginning of the field of Neurofeedback many alcoholics who had stopped drinking received training and were able to over come their addictions. This being said, it is still possible, if you are drinking, to make gains with neurofeedback. Through training what is often discovered is what caused the drinking in the first place.
- Poor thyroid function. There are direct receptor sites in the brain which respond to thyroid functioning. When the thyroid is poorly functioning it slows down (affects) overall brain function. Although in some cases it has been found that thyroid function improves with improved brain activity. This may mean that the Neurofeedback just takes much longer to be effective.
- Other Metabolic issues – Poor Adrenal gland function often has the effect of reducing the overall power of the brain which can make gains slow to come by. Also problems with blood sugar regulation can slow training. Although this is interesting that often times after training one of two things occurs; their blood sugar regulates better or people make different choices in food which then help the blood sugar regulate better. It goes without saying that a reduction in stress helps regulate blood sugar since insulin and glycogen are two important hormones respond when we perceive being in a stressful state.
- It is said that between 80-90% of healing happens in the sleep state so if a person is not making efforts to get proper rest in time this will affect the training. People will then often fall asleep during training. This slows the training down. The efficacy is reduced and this slows results down. This is not to say that Neurofeedback does not help with sleep. In fact, one of the first ways clinicians often see the training being successful is that the person is sleeping better throughout the night. The point is that a person must make time to get proper rest for optimal training results.
- Food allergies and allergic reactions can create an erratic way in which the brain functions and before training can often be successful this has to be addressed. One of the main issues here is often with Wheat/Gluten however it could be many other foods too that affect this. This will be address in more specific article on foods and brain training.
- Drugs/Medications. There are certain medications which can impede training such as Lithium and a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These make it difficult for changes to occur in the brain. Other medications such as Beta Blockers can make training moderately difficult but just require more time for the desired effects.
- Heavy Metals. Although not common this can affect the efficacy of Neurofeedback. The brain will see heavy metals in the same way it does certain kids of drugs. For this one should get some kind of blood or hair mineral testing done to determine the levels of heavy metal toxicity.
- Brain Injuries. Certain kinds of severe injuries can really limit success with training. On the other hand many people who have had injuries have received great benefits from training. So before assuming it will not help best to get a brain map done to assess the damage. Even then it may be that this can not be determined completely until some training has been done. One of my first clients I worked with had a stroke and in time she made great gains.
- Environmental factors. An example of this could be a couple who are in a bad relationship or someone in a poor work situation with their boss. This unhealthy environment can make it difficult for gains to be had. Other environmental factors could be a child being bullied in school or abused in their home life. These really have to be assessed case by case.
- Belief Systems. This is an area that most people would not think of but this plays a powerful role in both our physical and mental health. This is often expressed through the beliefs we have of ourselves or of others. Many times we are unaware how this is limiting us. However, through doing Neurofeedback training these beliefs can start to be recognized. As a person is able to see the belief for what it is then it naturally transforms and does not the same limitation on us as it once did. This is complex topic, which will be addressed in another article