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Neurofeedback vs. MERT/TMS

There are a number of treatments physicians utilize including psychotherapy (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)), neurofeedback, brain stimulation therapy, mindfulness-based therapies, etc. All approaches aim to promote mental health, cognitive functioning, and overall well-being. However, many people confuse these approaches with each other. Others assume that if one approach to therapy fails, none of them will help. That is far from the truth.

It is imperative to decipher the difference between approaches in order to promote the best possible therapy for a patient. For example, neurofeedback and brain stimulation therapy, which are widely available. There is a common misconception regarding neurofeedback and brain stimulation therapies like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Magnetic eResonance Therapy (MeRT).

Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is a therapeutic technique that involves providing real-time information about brain activity through the use of electroencephalography (EEG). An EEG is a test that measures and records the electrical activity of the brain by placing small electrodes on the scalp to detect and record the electrical signals produced by the brain’s neurons. An EEG categorizes the four major types of brainwaves (i.e., delta, theta, alpha, and beta) and helps to provide insights into one’s brain function and aids in the diagnosis and management of various neurological disorders. By providing these insights, it allows the patient to learn how to self-regulate, optimize their brain function, and learn about different activities that promote desirable brainwave patterns. The use of positive reinforcement helps to encourage patients to engage in these activities, as well as to reinforce the brain to continue producing these patterns. Neurofeedback is often used for various conditions, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and mood disorders.

Brain Stimulation Therapy (TMS and MeRT)

Brain stimulation therapies, including Magnetic eResonance Therapy (MeRT) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) , utilize the application of controlled magnetic stimulation to modulate neural activity in the brain. These therapies are again used to treat various mental health disorders and neurological conditions. MeRT and TMS are often associated with neurofeedback simply because of their shared use of an EEG. As mentioned, neurofeedback utilizes an EEG to determine the electrical activity of the brain, then encourages self-regulation based on results. MeRT also bases its treatment plan off of a patient’s EEG results, however, it utilizes magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in specific regions of the brain based on those results. Treatment usually consists of 4-6 thirty-minute sessions a week and takes about 4-6 weeks depending on the patient. MeRT and TMS are non-invasive, pain-free treatments that have proven effective for depression, anxiety, memory loss, ADD, addiction, and autism.

Brain stimulation therapies and neurofeedback are both FDA approved and offer benefits in the field of mental health. However, they differ significantly in their methods and intended outcomes. To learn more about MeRT and TMS, follow our Facebook groups: MeRT Treatment for Autism USA and TMS Depression Treatment for Vets and Military Families.