Brain mapping and neurofeedback begins with an individual having a quantitative EEG, (also known as a qEEG or QEEG), to evaluate brain function. The EEG stands for electroencephalogram, and measures fluctuating electrical activity in the brain’s hemispheres.Having a brain map is done to determine if there are abnormal brain wave patterns present that may benefit from neurofeedback sessions and improve a person’s life.
The method of obtaining a qEEG brain map consists of placing 20 small electrodes on the scalp in order to measure and record the electrical activity of different parts of the brain. This is much like a physician listening to your heart from the surface of your skin. Instead, we are listening to your brain’s activities from the surface of your scalp. The EEG procedure is only measuring the electrical activity and is totally noninvasive and does not cause any pain. The electrodes are used only for measurement of the brain’s electrical activity. The brain wave activity is relayed from the scalp to the computer where it is recorded and stored. All of this is done while the patient is resting quietly with his or her eyes closed, and sometimes during a performance of a cognitive task, such as reading. The process takes about 1 and 1/2 hours to do, and is done according to the 10-20 International System shown below. Research has found that the qEEG has high reliability, equal to or superior to routinely used clinical tests such as mammograms, cervical screenings, and CAT scans.
After the qEEG has been recorded, and the electrodes are all removed, Nu-Brain’s staff sends the recorded information to a national specialist in the field who edits and artifacts the raw brainwave data. The brain waves are then compared to a specialized normative database and charted and graphed, and that information is turned into a “map” of the brain that can be easily printed and analyzed by a nationally recognized expert in the field of brain mapping and neurofeedback.
After finishing the process that puts the brain wave data into a brain map, our expert will then analyze the data and will look at areas of the brain that are abnormal in comparison to brainwave patterns of very normal and healthy people. This comparison evaluation of the data determines the interactions between different parts of the brain and considers what is normal versus abnormal in the brain. Various parts of the brain are evaluated to see where the malfunctioning occurs, as to where the brain is over active, or is not active enough, and how brain areas may different from what they should be. Next, the brain map is evaluated as to what method is considered the best for re-training the brain, so the person will be able to achieve the most optimal results needed for improving that person’s life and happiness. This analyzed and detailed information is put into a report that will be used in the person’s neurofeedback sessions for re-training the brain and improving brain function.
When reviewing the qEEG brain map, there are a number of important areas to look at to see inappropriate brainwave activity. One of the first things to look for is the amplitude (meaning the size) of the waves. This may be seen in the chart below.
There are slow waves and fast waves, and the correct amplitude (size) of each is desired. When the wave activity is either to large in size, or is too small in size, the brain is malfunctioning away from normal, and needs to be returned to normal function.
When there are disturbed cortical functions present in the brain, as seen by the abnormal sizes of the waves, this is an indication of malfunction in brain activity. This usually shows up as some type of abnormal behavior in the person’s life, such as problems paying attention, distractibility, learning disabilities, or loss of memory, as well as many others.
When the wave size is abnormal, meaning it is either too large or too small, an imbalance occurs in the brain. The large slow waves are bad and may rule and overwhelm the small fast good waves, causing many kinds of problems. An example of this may be seen in the following brain map where the slow theta wave, shown in yellow, is not letting the good fast beta, in third picture, function in the right way. So here theta is causing ADD attention problems.
The above map demonstrates that slow theta is creating the problem of not paying attention. It is not allowing the fast wave beta to dominate with cognitive thought and high performance, and so too much theta is creating ADD problem behavior.
Large Slow Waves of Theta & Delta are Seen in:
- Learning Disabilities
- Problems with Impulses
- Daydreaming & Fantasizing
- Concentrating and Paying Attention
- Lack of Memory & Senility
- Chronic Fatigue & Fibromyalgia
- traumatic Memories of Childhood Abuse
- Head Injuries
Correct Amounts of Theta & Alpha Result In:
- Creative Artists, Musicians, Dancers
- Creative Geniuses
- Great Athletes being "In the Zone"
- Visualization & Meditation
- Dreamlike Images of "Twilight" State
A Lack of Alpha & SMR of Low Beta Result In:
- Hyperactivity in ADHD
- Problems Relaxing
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Parkinson's Disease
Too Much Alpha Causes:
- Sluggish Thoughts
- Slow Physical Movement
- Thyroid Problems
Too Many Small Fast Beta Waves Result In:
- Tension & Stress
- Being "Wound Up" & Wired
- Manic & Bipolar
- Acting Out
- Sleep Disorders
Fast Wave Beta are Powerful Brain Waves. Correct Amounts Produce:
- Arousal & Alertness
- Ability to concentrate
- Hyper Efficient Learning
- Good Memory
- Test Taking Skills
- Multi Tasking Ability
- High Performance
It is very important to have the right amounts of any kind of wave, and having that wave be in correct balance and harmony with all other waves. When this occurs, the brain will function properly.
Deep within the brain are areas generating waves that show up and are measured on the scalp. These are important locations for neurofeedback work, and being able to know precisely where they are located is a great benefit to the clinician. Therefore, we now turn to the use of Low-Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography, known as LORETA for short. This process provides enhanced 3-D images of slices of brain activity for looking deeper within the brain. This enables us to locate areas that generate problem brainwaves. The following example identifies the areas that have too much theta activity, and this shows up as red hotspots on the chart.
This means that there is a problem with increased amounts of theta in the areas shown in red above. This is pinpointing the locations related to the brain injury suffered by the patient. The referring physician now has additional information on which to base neurofeedback therapy, being accurate in the placement of the electrodes that will train the brain for reducing the problem areas of too much theta and being able to recondition and correct the brain wave problems. The following in an additional view of what is occurring in the brain of an individual. The red areas again show the problem areas of the brain injury.
In addition to the previous ways to use the brain map to identify problems in brain areas, there is a very specific method that breaks the brainwave bands of Delta (0-4 Hz), Theta (4-8 Hz), Alpha (8-12 Hz, and Beta (12 up to 40 Hz) into smaller increments of one Hz each. So, rather than having to work with the complete broad band of delta or of theta etc., this specific brain map can pinpoint the exact brainwave Hz that is causing the problem, and we can zero in on a very specific range of frequencies that are abnormal causing the brain to malfunction. So, we can narrow the search to be specific to the Hz that is too high or too low. We use this knowledge to limit the delta/theta re-training of the brain to a specific location such as using a 1 to 7 Hz range in the back of the head, as shown in the red areas on the following set of maps. This specific targeting method means that re-training is faster and more efficient.
Instead of providing a broad band of the brain waves, the map above limits the range to just one Hz at a time as it goes through the full spectrum of brain waves of 1-30 Hz. By breaking this down, it is a more efficient way to look at what is going on inside of any of the delta, theta, alpha, beta waves. As seen in the chart above, the red color indicates problems in the areas of both delta and theta in the back of the head. These are show up as “hot spots” of abnormal areas of activity. The above chart, of 1 to 10 Hz brain map frequencies, is but a sample of a larger page that includes brain map frequencies all the way up to 30 Hz. that are used for identification of areas that are ‘too high” or “too low” in sizes of waves and resulting brain wave problems.
The 2 charts are from a brain map, and these graphs provide us with additional information and show the TBI Probability Index scores that indicate the person’s probability rating of having a mild traumatic brain injury.
|The TBI Discriminant Score = 1.33
The TBI Probability Index = 99.5%
The TBI Severity Index = 2.85
This severity score places the patient in the MILD range of severity.
The 2 charts shown below provide information about the person’s probability of being in the Learning Disability population.
LD Discriminant Score = - 3.08
LD Probability Index = 99%
LD Severity Index = 8.21
The LD Severity Index is an estimate of the neurological severity of Learning Disability, and it shows that the individual is within the SEVERE range of having a Learning Disability.
Neurofeedback is biofeedback for the brain, specializing in brainwaves. High tech electronic equipment provides you with real-time, instantaneous audio and visual feedback of your brainwave activity. The goal is to normalize the abnormal EEG frequencies. The mechanism of action is operant conditioning, which impacts the regulation of arousal and increases the brain’s regulation of its own functions.
Ordinarily, we cannot influence our own brainwave patterns because we lack awareness of them, but when you see your brainwaves on a computer screen a thousandth of a second after they occur, it gives you the ability to influence and change them.
You simply watch a display on the computer screen and listen to audio tones, and while you are doing this, we coach you in learning to recondition the brainwaves that are abnormal. Thus, you change your brain waves into healthier, more appropriate brainwave patterns that give you improved ways of thinking. With continued feedback, coaching, and practice, the majority of people can learn to produce the desired brainwave patterns that they want. Some individuals need brain training exercise to decrease the size of their slow waves in the frontal lobes of their brains, so they can take in information better. Other people need brain re-training exercise to increase the size of their fast waves for improved memory. Re-training you brain is like doing exercise and physical therapy with the brain, working those brain muscles and getting them into shape. As you exercise your brain and train it to work the way you want it to, you are able to enhance your mental abilities and take charge of your life, and improve your life as you want it to be. Like learning how to ride a bicycle, once learned, your brain will remember how to do what it should do, going down life’s highways feeling good about yourself.
William Sears, M.D., and Lynda Thompson, Ph.D., authors of The A.D.D. Book, state that "Among the newer approaches to managing A.D.D., the most exciting is a learning process called neurofeedback."
Dr. Lee Pulos, Clinical Psychologist, states that “Certain types of stimulation not only change the chemistry of the brain but can actually increase brain cells and brain size, and dramatically increase intelligence.”
Frank H. Duffy, M.D., a Professor and Neurologist at Harvard Medical School, stated in the January 2000 issue of the journal Clinical Electroencephalography that the scholarly literature suggests that neurofeedback “should play a major therapeutic role in many difficult areas.”
Dr. Joel Lubar, Professor at University of Tennessee and ADD/ADHD research specialist stated that, “When you take somebody off of medication, they tend to revert to their original state and behavior. We’ve done studies that have shown that, even after ten years, the neurofeedback changes endure. Neurofeedback has a definite performance that we have not seen with any other therapy.”