PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is an acute stress disorder – the anxiety is characterised by the individual’s inability or unwillingness to process a traumatic event, leading to a state of hyper-vigilance.  This presents in many incapacitating symptoms such as feelings of isolation and irritability, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, depression and various degrees of dissociation from their previous emotional and physical life. 

The formal diagnosis of PTSD requires the person to have been ‘exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violence’, either directly or vicariously through people close to them, and is thus frequently associated with veterans.  However, less extreme events can cause the same symptoms – you don’t need to have been in combat to experience PTSD –  and neurofeedback training aims to address these as well as the underlying cause – the individual’s inability to process trauma.

A 2016 study by Bessel van der Kolk found that neurofeedback significantly reduced PTSD symptoms.

A recent study by the Red Cross for Tortured Refugees in Stockholm,  Sweden, reached very positive conclusions on the impact of neurofeedback training on PTSD.  In particular, the three symptoms of intrusive memories; fear; and irritability were significantly reduced over the course of 10-20 sessions, while headaches responded even more quickly.  The result of the study supports the hypothesis that neurofeedback helps refugees with severe post-traumatic stress disorder to reduce their symptoms over the course of 20 training sessions; and that it suggests that when the effect of the training is large enough to be measurable, the change can also be stable post training.  The report includes summaries and references to other successful studies in this regard and can be viewed below.

Neurofeedback training for PTSD takes a dual approach: 

First, we look to achieve substantial calming of the nervous system so as to restore functionality, sense of self-worth, and a feeling of well-being.  From here, usually after about ten sessions, we can start to deal with the underlying trauma, which requires conscious and subconscious processing.

For this we have Alpha Theta training, a pleasant and often profoundly relaxing protocol which effectively keeps the person in perpetual transition between the meditative Alpha state and Theta, which is where dreaming occurs.  The brain appears to process experiences deeply and efficiently during these half-hour sessions, and this can be beneficial for all adults because we all have some unprocessed emotional experiences – life issues that don’t all qualify as traumatic or full-blown PTSD but still need to be dealt with and can cause similar symptoms.

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive, drug-free training

Training starts with a twenty-minute assessment questionnaire.  Four sensors placed on the head with a water-soluble paste then simply measure an EEG-signal.  This is processed real-time and shown back to the brain via a screen – this is the feedback the brain uses to improve self-regulation.  Watching a video – youtube, Netflix, anything that captures the brains conscious attention – the image will resize subtly, reflecting the brain’s activity at a chosen frequency, during a half hour session

There is observable activity in the brain at all frequencies between 0-40Hz, and with the sensors and a specialised amplifier, we can dial into any frequency, just like on a radio, and isolate the signal there – except it’s not a song, but rather slow amplitude modulations.  Putting these into a form that the brain can perceive, i.e. a visual interpretation that is layered onto something more interesting for the conscious mind to focus on, is like showing it a mirror, and for reasons not fully understood, but demonstrated in extensive clinical practice, the brain is able to improve its self-regulation.

Repeated training allows the brain to form new neural pathways, this concept of neuroplasticity being essential in learning, which is what we do throughout our life.

The following video shows the physical improvements neurofeedback has made to PTSD sufferers, using SPECT scans donated by Dr. Daniel Amen of the Amen Clinic:

In the US, Homecoming for Veterans is a pro-bono initiative by neurofeedback practitioners.

The attached article by Siegfried Othmer, PhD., describes the process and results in detail.

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.

Personalised Brain Training and PTSD

Brain Maps and Personalised Brain Training

Personalised Brain Training is a neurofeedback training method devised by founders of the field, Barry Sterman and David Kaiser.  

 

Every Brain is individual and different, therefore Personalised Brain Training neurofeedback

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.

Neurofeedback Training calms the mind and restores functionality

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.  

qEEG recording of brain waves is analysed to generate a brain map in form of a Kaiser Neuromap

The functional connectivity between various brain areas allows us to see vulnerabilities to character traits or behaviour patterns.  

Kaiser Neuromap brain maps show character traits for neurofeedback

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.  

Neurofeedback process illustrated by electrode measurement analysed and transformed into feedback via a movie in visual and auditory form for the preconscious mind to process and adapt its behaviour to in a learning process.

 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 helps restore functional connectivity in key neural networks

Neurofeedback training is safe, effective and non-invasive. 

Neurofeedback training is safe and non-invasive shown in a picture using Othmer Method

Neurofeedback is evidence-based. 

Neurofeedback is evidence based therapy with a wealth of over 3,500 peer-reviewed research reports per PubMed neurofeedback

 

Guided by a Kaiser Neuromap, our neurofeedback training targets specific brain areas, neural hubs and networksThis 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.

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.

qEEG brain map for personalised brain training in neurofeedback

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.

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 relies on real-time EEG measurement, analysis and translation into feedback

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 daniel@neurofeedback.io to arrange sessions.

The Process

Brain Map

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. 

Neurofeedback Sessions

 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.

Contact Daniel on +44 (0)7966 699430 or daniel@neurofeedback.io to arrange sessions.