Cognitive decline and dementia are some of the more serious problems facing an aging population today. Symptoms of cognitive impairment can include loss of focus, low motivation, memory loss, slowed thinking, and problems with organization.
Dementia increases in prevalence with age, with a doubling of prevalence every 5 years 1. It is a progressive disease process affecting families, carers, health and social care providers. Cognitive impairment is an important part of the diagnostic criteria for dementia.
The most commonly used screening instrument for cognitive impairment is the MiniMental State Examination (MMSE) 2. If signs of cognitive impairment are present, a patient may be evaluated for dementia by a neuropsychologist, a specialist trained in mental health and brain conditions. Labratory tests can be performed to determine if a thyroid disorder or vitamin B-12 deficiency is underlying to rule such causes out. Imaging technology may be used to rule out other causes like brain tumors or strokes.
As scientists continue to isolate the brain structures and processes involved with cognitive decline and dementia, neurofeedback specialists have developed protocols to assist with these disorders. Neurofeedback functions to change EEG brain waves over time, reducing the likelihood that cognitive impairment will become a concern later in life.
A definitive article was published in late 2013 titled “Neurofeedback training improves attention and working memory performance” (Clinical Neurophysiology, Volume 124, Issue 12, December 2013, Pages 2406–2420), describing in detail an experiment run by doctors Wang and Hsieh. Of the four test groups, the older subjects who received neurofeedback had a significant improvement in the memory-testing. They concluded that neurofeedback training can effectively help with cognitive problems associated with normal aging.
Research shows improvements in cognitive function in aging adults after training using neurofeedback. A trial was conducted recently using EEG biofeedback training to reduce the symptoms of dementia. Subjects with dementia participated in 40 sessions of biofeedback training conducted twice weekly, with quantitative EEGs as a measurement tool. Scores displayed significant improvements in verbal memory, visual memory, Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), and Immediate Visual and Auditory (IVA) continuous performance test response control.
In one study, neurofeedback training was applied to adult human subjects in order to increase their upper alpha power and simultaneously decrease theta power. Training success (increase in upper alpha EEG waves) was positively correlated with an improvement in cognitive performance.
The results suggested of another study suggested that Neurofeedback training improves cognitive processing speed.
In conclusion, there is enough evidence that Neurofeedback is a valuable therapy in preventing cognitive decline and dementia.
At Synergy Neurofeedback we treat cognitive impairment and dementia with neurofeedback and other natural interventions. We offer in-office as well as in-home treatments.
1 Hofman A, Rocca W, Brayne C et al. The prevalence of dementia in Europe: a collaborative study of 1980–1990 findings. Intl J Epidemiol 1991; 20: 736–48.
2 Folstein M, Folstein, McHugh, P. ‘Mini-Mental State’: a practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. J Psychiatr Res 1975; 12: 189–98.
Updated January 2021