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.