Neurotherapy is based on QEEG assessment information and clinical presentation. It is a non-invasive, biologically-based methodology for determining and optimising brain function. Neurotherapy is also referred to as neurofeedback or simply "training."
Neurofeedback is the use of feedback to change the brain’s electrical patterning. Recently, clinical neurofeedback has been combined with stimulation technologies. These stimulation technologies include pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (pEMF), Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS), and repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). These stimulation technologies, as well as training the brain through neurofeedback, have been shown to change functional connectivity, as well as emergent properties of the brain (DeRidder, 2014). Quantum physicist and EEG neurodiagnostician, Juri Kropotov (2009), coined the term neurotherapy to subsume neurofeedback and stimulation technologies.
This treatment is a painless procedure, using the same equipment used to collect the QEEG data for assessment. Clients can expect to feel tired following sessions because it is like a mental workout at the gym, except that you will not be aware of making any effort as you train your brain--it trains itself via visual and/or auditory feedback! Progress is typically noted in five to ten sessions, depending on the presenting symptomology (your symptoms) and bio-physical status of the individual (your medical and physical condition). Progress can be monitored by changes in symptom presentation, transitions in the QEEG brain map, and/or with traditional neuropsychological testing. Changes can be lasting or permanent; in situations where change is not sustained, booster sessions can be used periodically.
Once an individual's QEEG has been analysed and correlated with his/her symptomology and behavioral presentation, a treatment plan is developed to address symptoms related to various brain-based disorders. The QEEG analysis is then used to provide neurotherapy in order to improve brain function and to monitor the brain's response to treatment.
During neurofeedback, a real-time QEEG is occurring and the computer displays a visual and auditory signal whereby the software is driven by selected QEEG parameters. The individual is given contingent audio- and/or visual rewards for producing specific brain waves. A reward implies that the brain is moving toward normalisation pertaining to the specific brain metrics targeted by the clinician. This is an operant conditioning process. Treatment is achieved through a brain-computer interface where the individual's learning is monitored and direct feedback is given with a sound or an image. The computer monitor becomes a screen representing electrical oscillations produced by neurons.
Every time the brain learns, there is an alteration in the elements of the brain's blood flow, chemistry, and neuronal connectivity. The speed and efficiency of learning is typically fast due to neuroplasticity, the speed of brain processing, and the speed of the computer software. The process of learning is, of course, mediated by other bio-physical processes. Nutritional status and adequate hydration are two important factors which contribute to brain health.
Research has demonstrated that QEEG neurofeedback has been effective in the treatment of anxiety, depression, insomnia, PTSD, epilepsy, stroke, some brain injuries, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and autism. Stress and chemotherapy are two conditions which neurotherapy can address. Neurotherapy can also be beneficial in the early stages of cognitive decline and for certain dementia presentations, for example, with Parkinson's disease.
Stress and chronic stress decrease the efficiency of information-processing networks. Bio-physical changes due to stress can also affect brain functioning. These combined factors can lead to decreased brain performance and decision-making challenges. Neurofeedback can assist with the regularising of brain networks and network hubs to restore and optimize brain functioning.
Individual's requiring chemotherapy for treatment of cancer or other diseases often result in cognitive side effects referred to as "chemo brain" or "chemo fog." Chemotherapy agents are often toxic to body tissues as well as being neurotoxic, i.e., toxic to the brain. Resulting cognitive changes affect attentional functions, executive functions, and learning and memory functions. Neurotherapy is one possible element in a multimodal intervention to combat chemo brain, with the intent of normalising brain function as much as possible.
Neurofeedback can also be used to optimise the brain for improved performance in various areas for anyone wishing to sharpen memory skills, math skills, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. This is done by reviewing a QEEG brain map to determine points for intervention and then increasing the efficiency of brain networks and network hubs in order to support the individual's performance in any endeavour.
The Effect of Neurotherapy on Medication
Because neurofeedback creates increased information-processing efficiencies in the brain and thereby changes symptom presentation toward a healthier state, any medication an individual is prescribed will need to be monitored by a physician. Neurofeedback trains the brain to modulate its excitatory pathways as well as the cortical blood profusion and oxygenation, thereby increasing flexibility and self-regulation of inhibitory and activating patterns. Typically this means a reduction in the amount of medication that will be required for any brain-based disorders and possibly for bio-physical disorders as well. Such medication changes must be discussed with one's primary physician.
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