Neurofeedback Glossary

Learn about the unique terms used in Neurofeedback

Alpha Waves
Alpha waves cycle between 8 and 12 times per second. These waves are the most predominant waves during the wakeful state. Alpha waves are associated with a relaxed, alert and unfocused state. When an individual’s alpha is within normal ranges, there is a sense of calmness and the individual tends to experience good moods. People who have an imbalance of Alpha may tend to be depressed. Some who have increased alpha in the frontal lobes tend to be disorganized and mercurial. Individuals who use Marijuana show high left frontal alpha which may explain some of the effects of cannabinoids.

Alpha can also be heightened in response to pain. Individuals who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder experience Alpha Attenuation, this occurs when the brain tries to downshift into a more relaxed state but instead it speeds up.

Beta Waves
Beta waves oscillate between 12 and 30 times per second. They are “fast” activity and normally associated with higher cognitive processes, rational thinking, analytical problem solving, and focused concentration. They are usually seen on both sides of the brain in symmetrical distribution and are most predominant in the frontal cortex. Beta waves may be absent or reduced in areas of cortical damage. There are three different types of beta waves:

Low Beta waves (12-15 Hz) – Low Beta waves are also known as sensorimotor rhythms (SMR). They are associated with a relaxed and focused state. Decreased low beta can reflect lack of focused attention.

Mid-range Beta waves (15-24 Hz) – Mid-range Beta waves are associated with mental activity and alertness, thinking, and awareness of self and surroundings. Decreased levels are associated with attention deficits, stress disorders, chronic pain, depression, mood disorders, psychotic states, substance abuse, panic, anxiety, and fear.

High Beta waves ( 25-30 Hz) – High beta waves are associated with overall activation of mind and body function. They can induce alertness but may also produce agitation. They are often elevated in stress related disorders, some mood disorders, panic, anxiety, fear and chronic pain.

Delta Waves
Delta waves oscillate between 0.5 and 4 times per second. Delta waves are often referred to as “slow waves.” These waves are associated with a brain cell at rest.

When brain cells are resting, they are restoring their supply of neurotransmitters, repairing and strengthening pathways of memory and learning. Delta waves are the predominant waves in deep sleep.

Abnormal delta waves are seen in brain injury, coma and seizures as well as many other conditions. Too much delta can indicate a brain that is ‘asleep’.

High Beta waves ( 25-30 Hz) – High beta waves are associated with overall activation of mind and body function. They can induce alertness but may also produce agitation. They are often elevated in stress related disorders, some mood disorders, panic, anxiety, fear and chronic pain.

Theta Waves
Theta waves are between delta and alpha. These waves have a frequency of 4-8 cycles per second. Theta waves are associated with deep creativity, the AH-HA! moment, and complex, sustained inspiration. Theta is believed to reflect activity from the limbic system and hippocampal regions.

Theta is observed in anxiety, behavioral activation and behavioral inhibition. When the theta rhythm appears to function normally it mediates and/or promotes adaptive, complex behaviors such as learning and memory.

Excessive theta can also be the hallmark of attention and processing difficulties. Theta waves are also associated with pain response. Individuals who have too much theta in the front of their brains might have problems with staying focused and completing tasks.

Neurofeedback refers to the technique of using operant conditioning to modify the brain waves. By rewarding specific brain waves, the brain can be taught directly via a computer to regulate itself.

Neurofeedback is also called EEG-Biofeedback as it deals with giving the subject feedback based on the Electroencephalogram.

Neurofeedback has been in use since the 1960s. It has been applied to conditions as varied as seizure, stroke and autism. It is the only non-invasive passive technique for modifying the central nervous system.

Training Protocol
Once a Qeeg is obtained a clinician is able to create a highly individualized training protocol based off of the brain’s current activity.

The protocol acts as a set of directions for the computer to produce individualized neurofeedback training.

Quantitative Electroencephalogram is a test that measures the amount of electrical energy an individual’s brain is producing.

The energy is measured in microvolts at the scalp surface and amplified to a computer to allow their brainwaves to be interpreted.

The individual’s brain is then compared to a normative database of brains of individuals that are the same age and sex. This method allows the clinician to see which areas of the brain are weak and which areas are strong.

Qeeg is also interchangeable with the terms Brainmap and BEAM (Brain Electrical Analysis and Mapping).

This is an acronym that stands for Low-Resolution Electrical Tomography. This technique uses vector weighted current density analysis to localize an area of the brain down to 2 millimeters.

LoRETA can determine areas of connectivity in the brain and allow us to determine how a brain is operating on the functional level.

Absolute Power
This reflects the amount of energy put out by the brain at each recording site within each frequency range.
The different parts of the brain must share information in order for us to understand the complexity of the world and to make and execute decisions. Coherence is a measure of how well the brain is able to perform this inner self-talk. Excessive coherence tends to indicate two or more areas of the brain have become overly dependent on those areas and is not efficiently processing and executing information.

This tends to result in poor day-to-day performance. Deficient coherence indicates a brain unable to efficiently connect cortical areas to perform specific tasks.

Learning Disabilities may show either (or both) excessive or deficient coherence characteristics.

The brain’s ability to alter and form neural connections over time.