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Articles    H3'ed 5/13/10

Will Neurofeedback Help with Migraines?

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Dr. Clare Albright
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Throughout history, humans have known that the brain is an important and powerful aspect of who we are. Yet scientists continue to be astounded by the capabilities of the human brain. New research in the field of neurology reveals just how powerful the brain can be. Not only does it help to repair the body when necessary, but it can also actually fix itself.

This makes sense when you think about it. The brain regulates all of your body's functions, from your breathing to your hormone levels, which in turn affect everything else. It is logical, then that the brain would be able to resolve many of its own issues. This is where neurofeedback comes in; this technique uses specialized sensors to tell your brain when your body is having certain reactions. Many stress-related conditions such as chronic lower back pain and asthma can be prevented from taking hold as soon as the brain recognizes the stress-related triggers that cause the symptoms. Neurofeedback can help change the way your brain reacts to stress, thus preventing many physical problems before they have a chance to manifest themselves.

Neurofeedback is basically biofeedback for the brain since it involves feedback from and to your brain's neurons. During the painless and non-invasive neurofeedback therapy sessions, a therapist will attach thin leads to your scalp using a water-based gel. The wires are then connected to a machine that reads your brain's electrical currents and translates them into data about how your brain is functioning.

This machine responds to your brain's currents much like a biofeedback sensor will respond to heart rate, skin temperature, or other markers. In regular biofeedback, the sensor will send you a light or sound signal when, for instance, your skin temperature drops, indicating stress in the body. A neurofeedback machine will use similar signals, but they may be even more advanced; some machines include screens with computer-like games, and others even play DVDs.

The machine will respond in a certain way when your brain is sending the "correct" signals. You might use your brain waves to make a robot or spaceship icon move about on the screen, or play a game like "Pac-man." Your brain experiences this as a reward for staying within the proper wavelengths, and it will begin to do so more often, and for longer periods, until the changes become longer lasting.

How does this help with migraines? Well, these debilitating headaches may originate from improper signals in the brain, and they are sometimes brought on by stress. In fact, people who feel they have little control over their lives are more likely to get migraines. Neurofeedback allows you to overcome your migraines and helps you to have more control over your life by changing the way your brain functions. In fact, in some studies, 80% of the people who used neurofeedback therapy saw no recurrences of their migraine headaches. These results were achieved without the use of heavy medications with their sometimes unpleasant side effects.

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Dr. Clare Albright is a psychologist and neurofeedback practitioner in Orange County, CA. She is the author of, "Neurofeedback: Tranforming Your Life with Brain Biofeedback" Dr. Albright has been counseling in Orange County for over 26 years.
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