Your brain literally influences every part of your health and life. When it’s not functioning optimally, you can struggle, and your life reflects it. Whether you’re facing depression every day, living with a stressed out, anxious partner, or watching your child wrestle with behavior, mental, physical, or other challenges, neurofeedback changes a person’s brain function which, in turn, can improve many physical and mental conditions.
Neurofeedback leverages the brain’s natural ability to physically change its form and function, called neuroplasticity, and its innate reward-seeking drive to guide it to learn healthier ways to perform through operant conditioning. I know that sounds science-y. So, let’s break it down and explain it in plain English.
What Is Neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity is an umbrella term referring to the many capabilities of your brain to change, reorganize, and grow, both physically and functionally, in response to input from your environment, behavior, and internal experiences. The concept of a changing brain replaced the long-held belief that the adult brain was a physiologically static organ or hard-wired, after critical developmental periods isolated to childhood.
While it’s true that the brain is much more malleable during childhood and the ease of neuroplasticity declines with age, your brain changes and is capable of change throughout your entire life. There’s no time limit on neuroplasticity. It’s happening every second of every day. Every time you experience or learn something or have thoughts and feelings, your brain makes new connections and pathways or strengthens existing ones. Both learning and memory are neuroplastic processes, meaning they involve chemical and structural changes in your brain.
Neuroplasticity Can Help or Hurt You
Neuroplasticity allows recovery from brain injury, addictions, and mental health conditions. Neuroplasticity has enabled people to recover from strokes, brain injuries, and birth abnormalities, improve symptoms of autism, ADD and ADHD, learning disabilities and other brain conditions, recover from depression and anxiety, reverse obsessive-compulsive patterns, and more. Because of neuroplasticity, you’re not stuck with the brain you’re born with or that you have at any given time in your life. If you make the effort to intentionally guide neuroplastic change, you can improve your brain and mental health.