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Neurofeedback News and Research November 2019

Neurofeedback shown to be effective for Major Depressive Disorder

Neurofeedback for Major Depressive DisorderA recent study has shown neurofeedback to be effective in changing the “brain signature” associated with depression and thus alleviating certain recurring thought patterns that are known to trigger a relapse of the disease.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a disorder caused by a set of social, psychological and biological factors, characterized by the continuous loss of interest or pleasure in daily life and the prevalence of negative feelings such as deep sadness, guilt and low self-esteem. MDD effects a large swath of the population of the industrialized world. In the US, the lifetime prevalence of MDD is around 20%- a whopping 1 in 5 people will be affected by this disease sometime in their lives.

Neurofeedback shows great promise as non-invasive, side-effect free treatment for depression. Now it is being investigated as a possible preventative measure as well.

Recently, a group of scientists performed a study in which paricipants were able to modify the “brain signature” for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) as measured by fMRI. Patients who had recovered from the symptoms of depression were found to still have this fMRI brain signature. Researchers posited that by training this area of the brain with neurofeedback the chances of remission of the disease could be lessened.

“The brain signature of excessive self-blame was discovered in patients with Major Depressive Disorder whose symptoms had remitted, suggesting it could precede the symptoms of depression, making people more vulnerable to the disorder,” -the study’s first author, Dr. Roland Zahn at King’s College London.

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.

Neurofeedback News- The Headlines from July 2017

Neurofeedback has been in the news ever increasingly, with new applications for this ground- breaking therapy being discovered everyday. Here is our latest sum-up of the recent news.

Neurofeedback is Now Available in the Comfort of your own Home

Neurofeedback for your whole familyHave you thought about neurofeedback but couldn’t do it either because of time or because you couldn’t find a provider in your neighborhood?

How would you like to have access to the exact same gear as the Red Bull professional athletes and other professional and collegiate sports teams? We are extremely honored to be chosen as the only clinical site in the world to have access to this equipment! Now you and your loved ones can have access to cutting edge technology with the convenience of training at home or on the road as thousands of athletes are now doing?

At Synergy Neurofeedback in Fort Collins, Colorado, we have new equipment that makes at-home brain training a breeze. Call us at 1-970-221-1106 for more information, or visit our website page: https://synergyneurofeedback.com/neurofeedback-training-at-home/

NEW BOOK: Child Decoded: Unlocking Complex Issues in Your Child’s Learning, Behavior or Attention

Child Decoded: Unlocking Complex Issues in Your Child's Learning, Behavior or Attention Paperback – February 16, 2017 by Marijke Jones (Author), Robin E. McEvoy PhD (Author), Kim Gangwish (Author)Recently our own Dr. Steve Rondeau published a chapter in an exciting new book by primary authors Marijke Jones , Robin E. McEvoy PhD , and Kim Gangwish, entitled “Child Decoded: Unlocking Complex Issues in Your Child’s Learning, Behavior or Attention” and published in February of 2017.

You can pick up a copy on Amazon.com, or have a look at a few chapters before you decide with their “look inside” function”.

Here is the author’s introduction to the book:

 

Neurofeedback- An Evidence-Based Scientific Approach to Mental Health

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive, evidence- based psychotherapy that allows patients to train their own brains to improve various functions. Evidence- based psychotherapy or medicine is defined by the NIH (National Institute of Health) as follows:

“Evidence based medicine (EBM) is the conscientious, explicit, judicious and reasonable use of modern, best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. EBM integrates clinical experience and patient values with the best available research information.” (1)

An EEG readout used for neurofeedback Neurofeedback uses qEEG technology (brain mapping) to measure a patient’s brain waves, and then engages them in dynamic brain training to normalize levels, correlating to improvements in function in that area. Research on wave signatures of individual neurological disorders such as ADD or traumatic brain injury (TBI) has helped specialists identify with great accuracy patterns of brain dysfunction, and researchers have used this much larger pool of data to develop specific neurofeedback protocols to benefit or reverse each individual neurological condition.

During a neurofeedback session, patients play simple games in which they are rewarded for changes in their own brain wave patterns through visual feedback. Adjusting brain wave patterns to optimal levels is a skill the patient learns intuitively, and success allows for progress in the game. Eventually patients develop much greater internal control of their psycho-emotional or behavioral issues, and neurological disorders can be corrected or at least greatly improved.

Neurofeedback for Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

Neurofeedback for cognitive decline and dementiaCognitive decline and dementia are some of the more serious problems facing an aging population today. 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].

Neurofeedback functions to change EEG brain waves over time. 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.