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What is Infra-Low Frequency (ILF) Neurofeedback?

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Neurofeedback (NFB) is a form of brain training to improve functioning. Infra-Low Frequency (ILF) Neurofeedback is a type of neurofeedback that focuses on both higher frequency brain waves, as well as extremely low frequency brain waves. 


NFB is a safe, non-invasive and non-verbal approach. It works by engaging the brain’s own mechanisms of self-regulation. NFB is not about learning to relax. The client is instructed not to try and do anything beyond attending to the process. 


NFB is a true “Low-Barrier” treatment. It requires no effort on the part of the client. It can be done with clients of any age, from infants to the elderly. It is compassion-informed, non-judgmental and non-triggering.

Neurofeedback makes sense to clients. Clients understand that their brain is stuck in hypervigilance, hyper-excitability, and/or dysregulation. They know that this is not by choice, but a consequence of events in their life.  NFB does not suppress normal emotions, energy or creativity. Rather it opens possibilities for clients who are otherwise unable to reach their potential.



Four to five EEG sensors are placed on the

scalp to pick up brain wave activity that control

the feedback on the screen. Clients watch a

video or play a video game that provides the

brain feedback on its performance. For example, in the video game, a race car might speed up and slow down; whereas when watching a movie, the picture gets bigger and smaller. Clients can also hold a stuffed animal that is designed to vibrate as part of the feedback process. Because the feedback is embedded in either a movie or video game format and requires no conscious effort, it can be used with clients across the life span or who demonstrate little insight or even actively participate in the therapy.

HOW IT WORKS (a bit technical)

All neurofeedback uses digital filters to analyze various frequency bands in the EEG. Beta, 12 to 18 Hz, or Alpha, 9 to 12 Hz are examples. The original work in neurofeedback was built around rewarding increases or decreases of specific training frequencies to improve attention, better seizure control, or to reduce anxiety. Forty years ago, with the development of digital filters it became possible for the clinician to alter the training frequencies that were being rewarded. With this ability, Susan and Siegfried Othmer, a pioneering couple in this field, noticed that when they moved the training frequency down, they were able to reduce arousal level, reducing anxiety at both an emotional and physical level (See


Over many years and with improvements to the underlying technology, they were eventually working with training frequencies so low that reinforcement based on threshold crossings, the usual operant conditioning design, was no longer practical. Instead, the brain was simply allowed to track the ebb and flow of the actual signal. The clinical effects were not diminished. In fact, they became observable more quickly at the lower frequencies, typically in a matter of minutes. They manifest initially as state shifts on the part of the trainee. The brain recruits the signal into its regulatory regime as an additional feedback loop. A continuous signal not only offers more information than the occasional discrete reward, but it also allows the brain to respond to the subtlety in the signal that gets suppressed in an operant conditioning design. By now it is quite clear that the brain benefits from access to subtleties in the signal. 


Once it is apparent that the brain is responding in this manner, and at this level of subtlety, prescriptive training (i.e. operant conditioning) no longer makes sense. In this process, the brain takes the lead. The term for this is endogenous neurofeedback, or endogenous neuromodulation where endogenous means coming from within. This isn’t so strange, actually, as most learning is endogenous. A small child hears speech and learns to speak. From time to time someone might tell the child how to say something, but that accounts for very little of learning to speak. In fact, we refer to this approach as the skill learning model, as the learning of self-regulatory competence is directly analogous to how the brain acquires its performance skills. Functional recovery is facilitated by the same mechanism.


This leads to a unique feature of the model we use: every person has their own “optimal training frequency.” That means that as we shift the training frequency, particular frequencies cause the person to feel more of a combined relaxation + alertness response. There is no single “good” training frequency. Individuals with a strong history for trauma usually have a very low training frequency, and this suggests that they need more calming than someone without such a history. But again, it is very person-specific. The process is similar to tuning in a radio station on an old radio. You can actually see the person change when you get to their optimal training frequency. They will be more relaxed, calmer, and more euthymic, yet also alert. One mightI view it as analogous to their being themselves on a good day. The training is most productive and efficient at this frequency. 


How this was discovered was the persistence and observation skill of the Othmers over 100,000 clinical sessions. It took them years to get to where we are today. And with the advent of fMRI assessments, their work has been validated. A client doing neurofeedback shows improvements in the functioning of their Default Mode, Executive and Salience networks, and their coordination. Here is a link to our website and the relevant publications: InfraLow Frequency (ILF) Neurofeedback Overview, Mechanisms and Neurophysiology

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NFB is pan-diagnostic because improved neural self-regulation impacts:

  • Focus

  • Sleep

  • Mood

  • Pain

  • Emotional regulation

  • Impulse control

  • Energy

  • Social awareness

ILF neurofeedback has been  used to address:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • PTSD (Read More)

  • Suicidality

  • Substance abuse

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)


  • Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Pain

  • Migraines

  • Schizophrenia



It can be used with client populations who typically don’t do well with verbally mediated therapies. It can be used with highly wary clients as it requires no self-disclosure. Yet, it can be readily integrated into talk therapy. It has been used with clients from various cultures, including Iraqi, Congolese, and Tibetan refugees, Native Americans, and Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American countries. It has demonstrated its effectiveness in the US with the underserved and marginalized communities. 


In Europe, ILF Neurofeedback is approved for use by psychiatrists, occupational therapists, and mental health counselors. In the US and abroad, ILF NFB has been implemented within a wide range of settings, including:

  • Community mental health programs

  • Veterans services

  • School special education services

  • Substance abuse programs

  • Foster care programs

  • Programs for recently released prisoners

  • Programs serving the homeless

  • Programs serving battered women

  • Drug courts

  • Domestic violence programs


Learn more about the history of neurofeedback, how it works, and how it is uniquely positioned to address trauma. Download our white paper, The Impact of Infra-Low Frequency (ILF) Neurofeedback on Chronic, Cumulative Stress and Trauma.


We know that NFB works within our existing healthcare system. View our current partners


Existing employees can be trained in 36 hours, with training spread over several weeks using an online format. Learn more about our next training program.

Neurofeedback has huge cost/benefit implications. High utilizers are known to account for a significant portion of medical expenditures. Behavioral concerns are common with many medical high utilizers. NFB can work with these clients.

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