Hammond, C. (2014). The Need for Individualization in Neurofeedback: Heterogeneity in QEEG Patterns Associated with Diagnosis and Symptoms. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
Neurofeedback (NFB) is becoming a popular treatment option for neurological, psychological, and psychiatric disorders. Neurofeedback is a noninvasive tool through which people can train their brains to function more efficiently. It works through a process called operant conditioning. Electrodes are placed on the head that relay brain activity to a computer, which gives feedback to a patient about whether the current brain activity is desirable or not. Eventually, patients’ brains learn which activity is being rewarded.
The key to a successful neurofeedback treatment protocol lies in the chosen placements of the electrodes and the frequencies of brain activity that are being rewarded on the one hand and discouraged on the other hand. Traditionally, clinicians have relied on standardized treatment protocols. For example, a patient with a diagnosis of ADHD may traditionally receive a protocol across the midline, which rewards alpha and inhibits theta frequency ranges. Similarly, standardized protocols have been developed for a range of diagnoses, like bipolar, PTSD, OCD, and depression. However, the problem with this strategy is that symptoms may be common across many possible diagnoses, so simply relying on symptoms is an insufficient means through which to deduce what is going on in the brain. Moreover, even if the diagnosis is correct, the underlying causes may differ. Indeed, there have been at lease three sub-types of ADD/ADHD discovered: theta excess, alpha excess, and beta excess. So, if a patient with alpha excess subtype receives the standardize treatment mentioned above, the results would be worsening of symptoms. In addition, there is often co-morbidities that make deciding between standard protocols problematic.
The solution is to treat each case individually and to tailor a treatment protocol to each patient that is sa unique as they and their brain are. We, at Integrated Neuropsychological Services, offer this personalized treatment strategy to our patients. We begin by having the patients come for a qEEG and render brain maps with the resulting data. This reveals which parts of the brain are and are not communicating well. We also compare patients’ brain activity against a database to determine whether there are excesses of specific frequencies. We use this information in combination with the results of neuropsychological testing to develop individualized treatment protocols for each patient. In this way we are directly affecting the underlying cause of the patient’s symptoms and not simply applying a one-size-fits-all option. We meet our patients right where they are and continue to apply this personalize approach throughout their journey. After 12 sessions with a given protocol, we reassess and do another qEEG to see how the brain has changed and what needs further work.
If you are interested in learning how this personalized approach can help you, someone you love, or your clients please contact us at 479-435-6360. We’d love to speak with you about how our approach can help!