How The Brain Works
To best understand how Neurofeedback works, it may be helpful to know some of the basics and complexities of the brain and its functions.
The human brain is the most complex, fascinating and dynamic structure known within the universe. It is able to process massive amounts of information, develop responses and apply these responses for increased efficiency and mastery. Our conscious mind is self-regulated, leaving our subconscious mind in charge of our implicit memory, something we do not consciously recall. For example, walking or riding a bike. This leaves our conscious mind free to focus or deal with new and/or immediate information that needs our full attention and awareness. In learning behaviour, a network of supporting neural interconnectivity is established. With repetition, the neural connections are strengthened and more easily activated. Eventually, the behaviour can become a primary and unconscious response, such as walking or brushing our teeth.
The ability of the brain to continually create new pathways and interconnections is essential for learning and adaptability.
These features of the dynamical brain have profound implications for day-to-day living. For example, if we repeat behaviour often enough, it develops a self-organizing dynamic that then drives the behaviour. Self-sustaining problematic behaviours are largely unconscious and may be as simple as obsolete coping strategies or as extreme as serious psychological and emotional challenges. Once established they influence the way we perceive the world, our relationship with it and our sense of self.
Behavioural dynamics are like a car rolling down a hill. If you jump in front just as it starts to move, it is a lot easier to stop than if it has developed momentum. When the behaviour has an unconscious component, we are unaware of the activation and the build-up of the dynamical intensity.
By the time it reaches awareness the behaviour is usually difficult to control because it is supported by powerful unconscious forces and has gained considerable “momentum”. When conscious or unconscious processing efficiency becomes compromised through the stress of modern living, information overload, trauma, or other influences, loss of performance and suffering arises. The body systems it regulates are affected, processing and integration of life experience become inefficient, and the additional burden placed on the conscious mind results in loss of awareness and performance in the world. Consequently, problematic behaviours, loss of wellness, and dependencies arise.
Any of the body’s emotional or cognitive processes influenced by the Central Nervous System (CNS) can be affected. The brain’s entire conscious and unconscious ability for optimal complex processing is determined by how efficiently it functions as a self- organizing dynamical and transformational system.