Years of scientific research support the effectiveness of neurofeedback as a non-invasive, non-drug way to change the way your brain functions. Neurofeedback has been adopted to treat an array of clinical disorders including ADHD, anxiety, depression, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and insomnia.
By monitoring brainwave activity using electrodes on the scalp (electroencephalography, or EEG), neurofeedback gives personalized feedback about the brain’s inner workings. Neurofeedback rewards healthy brainwave activity over unhealthy activity, ultimately reducing unwanted symptoms and behavior.
While there is a body of independent studies supporting the efficacy of neurofeedback for diagnosed conditions mentioned above, people have begun to recognize the power that this form of brain training can bring to healthy individuals in achieving peak performance in the workplace as well as in sports and athletics.
Renowned business leader Tony Robbins says he has benefited from neurofeedback, claiming it enhanced his ability to multitask. “As a creative professional, I now have the ability to visualize two separate tasks simultaneously. Example being, I can now type an email to one person while having a conversation with another person and the email will be flawless,” says Robbins.
Top athletes have also benefited from neurofeedback training. Over the past 20 years, more and more pro sports figures have used neurofeedback for daily mental training as a means of achieving the ultimate competitive edge. Members of the Italian soccer team that won the World Cup in 2006 credited neurofeedback and other biofeedback training to their win. To prepare for the tournament, the footballers used neurofeedback techniques to train focus, concentration and for “getting into the zone.” Italian pro soccer team AC Milan, Spanish team Real Madrid, and UK team Chelsea have since added neurofeedback to their team training.
The Wall Street Journal has also reported how neurofeedback helped beach volleyball stars Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor to win the London 2012 Olympic gold medal. Many other professional athletes have improved their performance using neurofeedback, including Chris Kaman of the LA Clippers, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Canadian Olympic ski team (which helped Canada win the most gold medals of any country in the 2010 Winter Olympics), Notre Dame football players, and Lucas Giolito of the Chicago White Sox.
How does neurofeedback lead to peak performance? Research shows that the underlying rationale behind neurofeedback training is based largely on the associations made between optimal performance states and the associated cortical activity; that is, brain patterns. In other words, brain patterns change during higher states of performance. This is the basis for neurofeedback. Training your brain to promote those brain patterns that relate to higher performance will actually increase your performance in real life.
A 2007 study provided strong evidence for the causal influence of regional cortical relaxation on sport performance. In blind crossover studies, the group receiving real feedback improved performance, the control group remained the same, and the group receiving fake feedback showed weaker performance. In another controlled EEG training study the following year Arns and colleagues were able to increase the percentage of successful golf putts by 25 percent on average using neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback has also been recognized to enhance workplace performance, as well as help mitigate stressors and workload.
One study, which aimed to show neurofeedback’s effects on cognitive efficiency and work stress, showed that at the end of the program there was an increase of attention and concentration and a decrease of perceived stress levels. Participants saw an increase in their alpha/beta ratio, an electrophysiological marker of relaxation versus agitation, and vagal tone, which is correlated with one’s capacity to regulate stress responses. In addition, the perceived quality of life at the workplace was consistently improved. Findings suggest that the tested program might act as a valuable opportunity to better performances and wellbeing of professionals exposed to work-related stressors.
Another body of research, which evaluated the effects of neurofeedback in the mental workload of occupational therapists, showed that the feedback training could help to reduce stress on this front. Finally, another study, aimed to develop a neurofeedback training system to improve the innovation behavior of enterprise personnel showed that the post-training innovative ability of the training group to solve problems creatively was much better than that of the control group. In the study, enterprise personnel were divided into a training group and a control group and invited to participate in an experiment of five training sessions.
The evidence is compelling: Neurofeedback doesn’t only benefit elite athletes; it can likely help anyone’s brain perform better. Companies and individuals seeking to improve their overall cognitive functioning and work performance might want to consider neurofeedback training to get a leg up over the competition.