What is Biofeedback and what are its benefits?

What is Biofeedback and what are its benefits?

Biofeedback is a therapeutic tool that uses the principles of applied psychophysiology. It is a new and non-invasive type of technology, through which programs or programs are presented to the user. training protocols to optimize physical, cognitive and behavioral performance.

Through this technique, the person learns and establishes certain programs through conditioning, which help him to self-regulate vital functions such as breathing and heart rate.

Likewise, the application of the strategies, contribute to the emotional regulation, therefore they are widely used within psychology to treat many disorders, with excellent results in a short time.

The APP (American Academy of Pediatrics), has granted level 5 effectiveness -It is the highest level-, children from approximately 4 years of age can be treated, showing good results. Even some Olympic athletes use this type of training for high performance. It is not an "alternative therapy" as many believe, it is rather: "complementary", because its benefits are potentiated by combining it with other psychological treatments; He has several decades of research, this has been an effective tool as training to learn to regulate vital functions and to improve some skills, so it has been used for military training since its inception.

Likewise, it has been shown to have benefits in the area of ​​health, since it can help improve the condition of many conditions and thanks to its rapid results it contributes to the optimization of the patient's quality of life from the first sessions. 


  • 1 Biofeedback and Neurofeedback: Non-invasive technologies
  • 2 What is the Neurofeedback
  • 3 Biofeedback software: novel and portable
  • 4 How are the training sessions?
  • 5 What bodily functions can be learned to regulate?
  • 6 Training Programs
  • 7 Areas of application
  • 8 Neurofeedback and its application in Psychology

Biofeedback and Neurofeedback: Non-invasive technologies

The system has a “hardware”, Which has decoders for training in different modalities, sensors to measure physiological functions such as: breathing, muscle tension, sweating and blood flow, among others. Being a non-invasive technology, it does not generate side effects and can be used for pregnant women, with prior neuropsychological assessment, as all candidates for training type require.

Some models have electrodes that are placed on the scalp, and currently there are very new bands type headbands with sensors (dry-sensors), which are more comfortable, widely used today for research in neuromarketing. There are also wireless electrode helmets which are comfortable for the user. Frequently, chest bands are used to measure breathing.

What is the Neurofeedback

The system consists of several parts, depending on the model, it is the type of technology you have, it can range from the simplest to the most modern, ergonomic and versatile: A record of the somatic system is kept by means of the thermal biofeedback which is a temperature sensor placed on the middle finger of the hand or foot, the electromyography biofeedback (EMG), provides information on muscle tension in different body regions (EMG-feedback) and heart rate are recorded through ECG-feedback (Feedback Electroencephalogram). The neurofeedback, focuses on the electrical activity of the brain, the subject learns to control brain waves through training to modify mental states, behaviors and cognitive processes in general.

Biofeedback software: novel and portable

Through these technologies, it records the emotional and physiological effect that different stimuli have on the person, to ensure validity and consistency, the system gives a feedback or “feedback" to the user, this is presented by means of visual, auditory or combined signals. The exercises are displayed on a screen while the patient modulates his physiological processes through breathing and other techniques taught.

The "software" of the system measures the electrical activity, the conduction that is in the skin, through it, you can learn to stabilize part of the physiological activity, it is being used increasingly to optimize various brain functions, along with the help of cognitive strategies, also to contribute to the emotional regulation, as for other bodily functions, because it measures physiological parameters during training or session, The program records what the person learned or the aspects that were reinforced, which is the feedback or feedback that the system gives us, according to progress; which must be completed by psychological assessment. It also quantifies the frequencies, which are recorded depending on the mental state, generating different types of brain waves: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Theta.

The alpha level, for example, is a resting state for the brain that represents the power of the present, the "here and now" in a contemplative state. Users are taught to use better relaxation techniques, which can induce them, for example, to a restful sleep, it is very beneficial in people who have an intense activity as high performance athletes, senior executives, students, multifunctional mothers who perform various roles in society and people who have sleep disorders, stress and anxiety, among others. Optimization in high performance in various activities was reported after relaxation workouts.

At beta waves dominate our waking state, they are attributed focused mental activity. There are specialized programs that help direct attention to cognitive tasks and the outside world, require highly complex thinking, integrate new experiences and can contain high emotionality or anxiety, so it is also worked at this level. Neurofeedback is used with excellent results for patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), memory problems, learning, lack of emotional regulation and general improvement of cognitive processes.

You can work with the different range of brain waves, as there are specific training programs that health professionals can adapt to the specific needs of the person receiving this service.

A great advantage is that the user can carry with him some exercises that can help him strengthen his training, there are programs called “home practice”(Home practices or“ homework ”), the person You can carry on your mobile devices, to practice anytime, anywhere who may or wish to be training.

These aspects of the system call attention to patients who like technology, to those of new generations who show resistance to go to another type of therapy and Technology lovers can find a good therapeutic and training option, which can even be fun and somewhat fun, Like a video game to potentiate your skills!

How are the training sessions?

You usually work with one or two training sessions per week, optimally complementary to psychological therapy, cognitive behavior, is widely used in combination with neurofeedback for the good results it has shown to have. Users can learn strategies to modulate their brain activity, they are given the tools to develop confidence in themselves and their skills, as well as their management.

The person learns to control many of his processes, both physiological and psychological. Through these programs, the user manages to recognize and makes conscious some autonomous functions of his system, to look for a better or more adaptive response and learn to execute it. Finally, it can be “automated”, with the aim of restoring self-regulation.

What bodily functions can be learned to regulate?

The system also keeps track of the autonomic nervous system, related to the involuntary functions performed by the body, this type of training helps to stabilize or modify certain bodily functions such as: Breathing, temperature, sweating, brain waves, muscle tension, heart rate and Blood flow.

Training programs

Learning that is based on conditioning which include biofeedback training programs, there are specialized in different areas, for the treatment of psychological, psychiatric disorders and for rehabilitation purposes it is usually called neurofeedback, through research the gradual nature of behavioral modifications has been demonstrated through This type of training.

Application areas

Given its functionality it covers several areas, since its use for high performance training in different fields is becoming popular.

It is generally used in the sports area for high performance athletes; they use it to improve their performance, they can benefit from high performance workouts; Some Olympic players use this technique to obtain better results, taking this therapy as part of their comprehensive training.

Within organizations it has a great boom, especially among senior executives, as well as people who want to have better performance and higher productivity, It contributes to making appropriate decisions under stressful situations, improves planning capacity, working memory, flexibility and balance in general. Management techniques are learned for performance anxiety, emotion management and others, in order to achieve it.

In the clinical area, I have already mentioned some of its applications that have proven highly recommended for the improvement of the user's well-being with different disorders, as well as the potentialization of cognitive processes.

The Neurofeedback and its application in Psychology

It is recommended that these therapies be performed with psychologists, as the initial neuropsychological evaluation is necessary, as well as other specialized tests throughout and during training or treatment, such evaluations can be supported with quantitative electroencephalogram (EECG).

In patients with psychological and psychiatric disorders, it has been observed that the results are favorable when, in addition to training, other types of psychological therapies of the patient's preference are received together, that is why it is called: “complementary therapy”.

It helps the patient learn to be more observant of himself and his mental and physiological processes; When you learn to identify, you can begin to apply the strategies given in training, in order to change to a state of calm and stillness, very useful for example, before a attack of anger, anxiety, panic or epilepsy, because the patient begins to detect his altered breathing and blood flow, as well as other physiological and cognitive signals so he can begin to apply the strategies learned in his training.

Treatment of psychological, neurological and psychiatric disorders

It has been tested as a effective treatment for many neurological and psychiatric disorders, for the ability that users present to evoke the state of training outside the sessions, for their progress in the ability to control stimuli during training and the strategies learned in the different programs.

Among them, epilepsy, especially in non-photosensitive cases, since if necessary, the relevant adjustments must be made in the program (Sterman and Fraile, 1992 and Kotchoubey, 2001); attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; Kaiser and Othmer, 2000; Fuchs, 2003) Kropotov); schizophrenia (Gruzelier 1999, Surmeli 2012), and even in traumatic brain injury and stroke rehabilitation (Yucha and Montgomery, 2008). In healthy subjects, it has been applied with observation and improvements in cognitive behaviors and processes (Arns 2008, Reiner 2014), as well as for the treatment of Parkinson's, as it has proven to be a support for cognitive performance of older adults, (Becerra 2012; Staufenbiel, 2014).

People can learn to modulate their brain activity and some physiological processes through learned strategies, subjects generally stated that their ability to control the response to different stimuli increased during the course of training and after them.

Disorders that can be treated in a complementary way with Neurofeedback

  • Help reduce hyperactivation states and to control states of: anxiety, stress, anguish and panic, is useful for treating phobias and the anxiety associated disorders.
  • Bipolar disorder. Patients can benefit greatly as training results as a modulator of behavior without harm to health.
  • Depression and others mood disorders, since patients learn to evoke positive emotions.
  • Learning problems.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the training in the attention processes is very promising, since there is an increase in this disorder in both children and adults.
  • Migraines and headaches.
  • Selective mutism.
  • Substance abuse, alcoholism, dependencies and eating disorders.
  • Control of epileptic attacks through the operant conditioning paradigm.
  • Modify undesirable behaviors, such as those that are self-injurious or destructive towards others.
  • Leave unhealthy habits, teaches to create more consistent behavior patterns.
  • The people that have asthma and other respiratory problems, they can benefit from this type of training, since one of the key parts of this type of tools is breathing control.
  • Help patients who have diseases associated with chronic pain, because the subject can be trained to control the pain to some extent and modify the subjective perception of it.
  • The people who have some visual or auditory weakness, they can also receive the benefits as there is specialized software for them.
  • The older adults They can benefit greatly from this type of therapy because it helps train cognitive processes that can deteriorate with age such as: sensory perception, memory, attention, learning, language and thinking.
  • Within physiotherapy, it has the function of rehabilitation therapy for motor problems, hemiplegia, paraesthesia, etc. It also helps to recover the neuromuscular integration, because it serves as an adjuvant for problems that have to do with muscle contraction, such as: hypertonic or hypotonic muscles.
  • Patients with cardiovascular problems and diabetes.


Cardiovascular problems represent the leading cause of death in the world population; at the same time, psychiatric, neurological and psychological problems are rising rapidly, so they represent a delicate health problem globally; Biofeedback has proven to be an excellent technological tool complementary to psychological therapeutics, the strategies that users learn during training can be applied by them in different circumstances, managing to modulate emotions, behaviors and certain types of cognitions, which contribute to their balance. and good health.

Training protocols should be evaluated and designed by psychologists, also because constant specialized neuropsychological and other evaluations are required. Users of this type of training have shown improvements in several parameters of measures that are used to evaluate: speed, efficiency, productivity, accuracy, focus on work and for the improvement of their cognitive processes in general; Upon receiving feedback or “feedback” the patient finds it easier to learn to potentiate skills and achieve changes quickly through the established programs, the result can be reflected in the improvement in the performance of their daily activities.


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  • Egner T., Gruzelier J. H. (2001). Learned self-regulation of EEG frequency components affects attention and event-related brain potentials in humans. Neuroreport 12, 4155-4159. 10.1097 / 00001756-200112210-00058 PubMed
  • Wang X.-J. (2010). Neurophysiological and computational principles of cortical rhythms in cognition. Physiol Rev. 90, 1195-1268. 10.1152 / physrev.00035.2008 PMC free article
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