Neurofeedback Training can Improve Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease and Dementia
Neurofeedback improves quality of life, sensory integration, motor skills, movement initiation and balance in Parkinson’s Disease.
Peer-reviewed research shows the following effects in neurofeedback applications to Parkinson’s Disease:
– improved motor symptoms, on a par with other therapies such as rTMS – while being non-invasive and drug-free
– improvement in life quality
– increased sensory integration in 10-12 sessions
– reduced symptom severity
General (non-PD specific) effects of neurofeedback training include:
– overall increased fine motor skills
Chronic Pain is another application for neurofeedback, where studies have demonstrated its efficacy.
Subjectively, PD sufferers find neurofeedback training calming, reassuring and report an improved sense of feeling being part of their body.
Researcher Katherine Fletcher (PhD) of Parkinson’s UK asserts that:
“The idea of Neurofeedback is very interesting and the evidence [above] shows great potential. Larger studies would be needed to fully understand the potential and safety of this method for people with Parkinson’s before we could share it with our community.”
Neurofeedback and Neuro-Degenerative Conditions: Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington's Disease
With neurofeedback, we can train white matter tracts. In healthy patients, this growth was faster than the rate of neurodegeneration in PD. Research has yet to confirm that this works for PD specifically. Encouraging neuroplasticity, particularly when faced with neurodegeneration, would seem a worthwhile endeavour.
It has recently been shown that neurofeedback training led to cognitive improvements in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients, and that this corresponded to improved functional connectivity in key motor and salience networks. Increased fractional anisotropy (FA) was observed, which correlated with cognitive improvement. MS is a neurodegenerative condition that adversely affects axonal myelination. FA is among other a measure of myelination, so the result that neurofeedback can make positive changes in this condition is very encouraging.
A study with sufferers of Huntington’s Disease, another neurodegenerative condition, showed that cognitive and motor skills improved and that these changes related to improved functional connectivity in key brain regions, again a conclusion that neuroplasticity can be induced despite the presence of neurodegeneration.
Neurofeedback can Strengthen Neuronal Pathways
Neurofeedback is a form of complementary therapy and should not be seen as a replacement for conventional medicine. qEEG brain map-based neurofeedback training takes a more holistic approach to brain functioning, rather than just focusing on medical symptoms. It is not intended as a form of diagnosis nor medical intervention nor medical advice per the disclaimer.
Neurofeedback training can substantially improve the life-quality of sufferers of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Stroke victims. It has been shown to improve cognitive performance in elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment.
By targeting specific brain areas responsible for functions that are observably degenerating, neurofeedback aims to arrest and possibly reverse declines.
Specifically, white matter tracts can be trained, and comorbid mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, anger) treated.
Improving the brain’s ability to self-regulate can substantially benefit a person’s sense of well-being. Physical and emotional calming help to soothe irritability and mood swings. We can work on specific areas of the brain responsible for bodily coordination, speech and expression. With the Synchrony protocol, we aim to improve memory, focus, and through further calming produce a sense of comfort, thus reducing any anxiety. Given the organic degeneration at the root of the condition, neurofeedback training is likely to be an ongoing complement to care.
Sue Othmer, who devised the Othmer Method of Neurofeedback, discusses what it does and how it can help with age-related conditions by giving the example of own family members:
We take a holistic approach to healthy brain self-regulation, rather than categorisation or diagnosis. In our view, and experience, symptoms resolve when our system is balanced.
A brain map is an analysis of brain wave behaviour as measured by a qEEG recording. We record 20 minutes of the brain activities with a 19-sensor qEEG recorder. There is no stimulation, and contact between the sensors and the head is via an easily removable gel applied to specific points. From this recording, we can generate a brain map using Kaiser Neuromap software.
The functional connectivity between various brain areas allows us to see vulnerabilities to character traits or behaviour patterns.
Neurofeedback training is a process where we give the brain feedback about its own activity at a particular cortical site in real time, via visual, auditory or tactile means. There is no direct stimulus to the brain and the sensors attached are for measurement of cortical EEG, or tiny electrical currents detectable on the surface of our head. This signal is then amplified and analysed by software in real-time, and this information is used to provide feedback to our brain.
We use a movie of choice as the feedback mechanism – our conscious mind engages with the film, and feedback is delivered by small changes in volume or picture size. Our pre-conscious mind adapts its behaviour to preserve the more comfortable volume and picture size, and learning occurs.
Neurofeedback training is safe, effective and non-invasive.
Neurofeedback is evidence-based.
Guided by a Kaiser Neuromap, our neurofeedback training targets specific brain areas, neural hubs and networks. This improves integration of the brain area we are training, as well as its network and sub-cortical connections.
Developed by a founder of the field of neurofeedback, and with a wealth of over 3,000 brain maps and thirty years’ of experience, Personalised Brain Training uses advanced neurofeedback protocols.
A qEEG-brainmap takes under an hour to obtain and is a non-invasive process. A nineteen-sensor cap is comfortably fitted and we record about twenty minutes of brain activity. Using specialised software, we obtain a visual analysis which we will communicate verbally. This also forms the basis of our training plan. Note that we do not provide diagnosis.
This brain map approach is unique in that it analyses the connectivity of a functional brain area, rather than simply geographic areas of the brain.
Connectivity is a measure of regional integration of specific brain areas with other areas and key networks. This is a relative measure – to be meaningful, it has to be referenced to a baseline. Rather than use an average as a reference, we compare results to a set of hand-picked individuals who are both high-performing professionals and well-balanced individuals. Our ability to engage with others, form friends and alliances, and make consensual decisions is deemed as important for success as professional specialisation and technical performance.
A functional brain area, as first delineated by Korbinian Brodmann in 1909, was first defined by variations in the number of layers in its grey matter. This difference in physical property still holds as a valid way to separate brain regions, and each has its own function while being connected to other areas of the cortex via white matter, as well as to the brainstem, in particular, the thalamus. With a brain map, we gain insights into both cortical integration (how well the area connects with its surrounding areas), as well as its thalamo-cortical integration.
Neurofeedback Training Sessions
Personalised Brain Training aims to optimise the cortical connectivity, as well as promoting improved thalamo-cortical connection. Neuroplasticity, the ability of neural networks in the brain to make new connections, is an essential and continuous process that underpins our ability to learn. With brain training, we can promote this process.
Protocols are generally around 30-45 minutes per brain area that we train; as such, training sessions are ideally around 90-120 minutes. This corresponds to the average length of a movie. This is also the length of our ultradian rhythms – attention cycles that govern our day, letting us perform at more than 100% at peak, and less than this at trough – think of the lull we experience around lunchtime. By training the brain throughout a complete cycle, we are more likely to provide the brain with a challenge at different points in its attention cycle for a more comprehensive training.
The primary feedback mechanism in Personalised Brain Training is auditory, that is, a subtle change in volume. The brain recognises this, preconsciously, while our conscious mind is focused on the movie, and corrects its behaviour to preserve the continuity of the watching (or listening) experience. A secondary, visual feedback mechanism can be activated, whereby the picture size changes too, though this is optional in cases of high visual sensitivity (e.g. migraines).
We can track progress by remapping the brain at intervals, usually after every 20 hours of training. Ten sessions will give a good indication of responsiveness, which besides subjective feedback we can ascertain with a further remap. With neurofeedback training, we are showing the brain a more efficient state during a session. Upon repetition, the brain learns to adopt this new state. The person has to then implement this new learning in their life. Internal changes have to be externalised. Training success depends on this ability thus results can vary.
Neurofeedback training begins with two to three sessions per week and the frequency of training can then be adjusted to need and symptom improvements. Intensive courses involving two or more sessions per day can also be accommodated.
Contact Daniel on +44 (0)7966 699430 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange sessions.
We record qEEG brain activity for about 15-20 minutes. This process takes about 30-45 minutes overall and we discuss results a few days later via call or in person. This provides the basis for the Personalised Brain Training Plan.
Comfortably watching a movie of choice, we train specific brain areas per our Personalised Brain Training Plan. Sessions are two hours (shorter if necessary), and ideally we aim to do two or three per week. Alternatively, intensive courses can accommodate two sessions per day. Generally, we would look to do 40 hours or 20 sessions.