Neurofeedback in New York
Operant Conditioning and Neurofeedback Therapy
Neurofeedback therapy is an exciting approach to managing the symptoms of numerous brain-based disorders. Based in over 30 years of clinical research, neurofeedback therapy has recently become available in the New York area as an effective treatment approach for ADHD, anxiety, and numerous other disorders that involve underlying neural dysregulation. Neurofeedback therapy in the New York area is essentially based in the concept of operant conditioning, a major tenet of behavioral psychology first elucidated in the 19th century.
What is Operant Conditioning?
Operant conditioning is a type of learning in which behaviors are reinforced or discouraged using positive and negative reinforcement. Jerzy Konorski, Edward Thorndike, and B.F. Skinner first studied it extensively in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was Thorndike who first formulated his “law of effect,” which states essentially that behaviors followed by satisfying consequences are more likely to be repeated than behaviors which produce negative consequences or lack of positive reinforcement. B.F. Skinner, who focused less on unobservable internal states than on measurable, observable behavior, pioneered the empirical exploration of operant conditioning in the 20th century.
The core tools that factor into operant conditioning are reinforcement and punishment. There are five basic consequences associated with operant conditioning:
• Positive reinforcement occurs when a behavior is followed by a desirable stimulus.
• Negative reinforcement occurs when a behavior is followed by the removal of an aversive stimulus.
• Positive punishment occurs when a behavior is followed by an aversive stimulus, such as an electroshock in animal experiments; this discourages the organism from repeating the behavior.
• Negative punishment occurs when a behavior is followed by the removal of a satisfying stimulus.
• Extinction occurs when a previously reinforced behavior is no longer effective and is gradually abandoned by the organism.
Operant Conditioning in Neurofeedback Therapy
The use of rewarding stimuli to reinforce or discourage a behavior is an underlying principle of neurofeedback therapy in the New York area. Obviously, no one is “punished” with an electroshock like a rat in a maze; reinforcement in neurofeedback therapy is in the form of moving an image in a video-game-like software setup. When the desired frequencies are emitted, an image will move in the desired way, whereas it will not move or will change in an undesirable way when undesirable frequencies are emitted. This method for neurofeedback therapy in New York not only allows the patient to become aware of what neural oscillation frequencies they are emitting, but the video game aspect provides reinforcement when the desirable frequencies are achieved. This approach is remarkably effective. Video games and other “game like” scenarios often trigger dopamine reward circuits within the brain, which is part of why video games are both incredibly fun and, for some individuals, can become a behavioral addiction. When you succeed in a task in a video game, your brain’s reward system is activated and you feel gratified. Neurofeedback software uses these principles to make the game a reinforcing factor for brain training.