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brainhealth Tag

Neurofeedback News and Research September 2019

Prosthetic Leg with Neurofeedback Makes Walking Easier, Treats Phantom Pain

neurofeedback and cyberneticsFollowing the trend in which humans are increasingly becoming cybernetic organisms, where man and machine are integrated into a functional whole. Cybernetics has some of the most inspiring applications for people missing arms or legs. We are at the edge of a whole new era in this technology, where artificial limbs will become integrated more completely into the body.

A leader in this field of development, SensArs, a Swiss firm, is behind a recent big advance in the field of cybernetics, by building an interface that can link a prosthesis with residual nerves in the thigh and create a neurofeedback mechanism. They have shown that patients can now communicate directly via their brain to the artificial limb.

Neurofeedback News and Research August 2019

Study: Neurofeedback shown to Reduce Anxiety

anxiety and neurofeedbackAnxiety disorders, including panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder, are the most prevalent mental disorders. Anxiety disorders follow a chronic course; however, there is a natural decrease in prevalence rates with older age. Anxiety disorders are highly comorbid with other anxiety disorders and other mental disorders.

The way Western medicine has treated anxiety in the past has been somewhat problematic- the class of drug most often used is tranquilizers which are a temporary solution at best, and can actually cause anxiety as they wear off. It is also well known that these drugs can also cause dependency, making them controlled substances that come with a no driving or operating heavy machinery warning.

It’s clear we need a new treatment model moving forward if we hope to gain any ground with a disease that affects so many people in the modern world.

Neuroplasticity and Neurofeedback

For many years, neuroscience was a heavily deterministic field. The brain you were born with was thought to be the brain you were stuck with for life. With the emergence of the concept of neuroplasticity, it is now understood that this is not black and white. Brains can grow and transform, adapt to new circumstances, and even rebuild itself after an accident.

Neuroplasticity is defined as the capacity of the brain to develop and change throughout life. The prefix neuro- means nerve cell, or neuron, and -plastic refers to our brain’s capacity to reorganize itself. Neuroplasticity is the idea that the brain is malleable in terms of structure, allowing opportunities for new growth and connections. As structure changes, so does function.

Understanding EEG Brain Mapping

What is an EEG Brain Map?

qEEG to determine psychiatric medicationsNeurofeedback is a process that involves feedback, hence the name.

The feedback comes in real-time, as the patient receives visual and possibly auditory information allowing them to adjust their internal state to optimize their brainwaves and “win” at the game they are playing. Feedback is also attained over longer periods of time, using something called an EEG brain map.

EEG brain mapping is the most easily accessible, cutting edge technology to assess what is happening in your most important organ, your brain.  Historically psychiatry has been a subjective field, with an assessment or diagnosis made by a doctor and based entirely on verbal input from the patient. This process is inexact at best, and can even lead to misdiagnosis and prescription of the wrong medications and treatments.

Novel Uses for Neurofeedback Therapy

In this blog, we have detailed many evidence- based uses for neurofeedback, as a beneficial therapy for ADD, ADHD, depression, cognitive impairment, and even Parkinson’s disease. Please see our main blog page for an exhaustive list.

The study of neurofeedback as a groundbreaking therapy is in it’s infancy. The potential applications for this life transforming therapy are just starting to be explored- we are just beginning to ascertain potential uses for neurofeedback in the modern era.

Following are some accounts of the novel uses for neurofeedback currently documented.

Brainwave Monitored Assisted Meditation

Highlighted region shows the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain shown to be activated during meditation. Photo credit: Geoff B Hall

Meditation is becoming more popular in the contemporary world, as it moves into the world of medicine and even the corporate environment. As it comes more into the popular eye, it’s important for it’s credibility here in the West to merge this ancient wisdom with more modern approaches to “being at one”.

A great example of this is neurofeedback assisted meditation. This is the process of using a neurofeedback headband and accompanying monitor (a smart phone or a tablet) to decode our brainwaves while meditating, and make small adjustments to improve our focus and attention.

Some of the same technology we use in our office can be used for this, bringing the seemingly esoteric modality of mediation into the realm of science and evidence-based psychology.