Alzheimer's, Dementia, Cognitive Decline
Why investigate Neurofeedback.
Recently on the Dr. Oz show "An Alzheimer's Breakthrough" was announced. Any new treatment that offers hope for this dreaded condition is well worth investigating, Why? Note the following quote from an article by Mike Roizen, MD.
"Alzheimer’s affected about 5 million people in 2010 in the US, and is predicted to increase to more than 12 million in 2050, with a worldwide prevalence going from about 25 million cases now to over 100 million in 2050. The cost in the United States for caring for such patients will increase from $170 million now to over a trillion in 2050 (not counting the time value for 30 million family caregivers expected in 2050)."
Dr Roizen explained that the breakthrough involved currently testing with a new drug: Bexarotene. The drug has been tested on successfully on mice and it may soon be tested on humans if it receives approval from the FDA. Of course, the hope is that a newer and better treatment can be developed that will be relatively side-effect free.
Neurofeedback also holds out hope as a therapy or training modality because it meters brain activity and assists the trainee to modify brain metabolism without the use of drugs. The brain has many neuronal connections that reflect its wellness. Neurofeedback equipment measures the activity of neurons as well as the white matter of the brain. For example, since the 1920's it has been known that the peak operating frequency of the adult brain is about 10 Hertz or 10 cycles per second. However, the brain of adults with Dementia may operate at a lower speed, e.g. 8 Hertz (cycles per second). Often there is an increase in "Theta" brain wave activity. Theta operates at a very slow speed: 4-8 Hertz. If an adult brain is producing an abundance of theta waves there will be a corresponding decrease in reaction time, possible difficulty in word recall, difficulty learning new things. What does neurofeedback do to help?
Neurofeedback training involves the placement of sensors over regions of the scalp. Beneath the scalp are neurons which emit micro-voltage that can be detected by neurofeedback equipment. During training neurofeedback equipment can detect each time there is a burst or spindle of slow theta activity. It also detects when the burst has subsided. Each time the activity of "Theta" reduces in power the trainee hears an auditory tone and perhaps a visual stimulus. The brain then responds to those tones. Why?
Feedback tones are synchronized to match the brain's rhythm. The brain of the trainee quickly realizes that the output of tones are not random. The brain is a rhythmic organism. For example, after a play the audience applauds. Within seconds hundreds even thousands of people are applauding in unison because the brain is hard wired to detect rhythmic pulses and to respond. The brain wants to be in sync with the applause. In a similar fashion the brain wants to be in sync with output of tones that are generated by sophisticated state-of-the-art computerized neurofeedback equipment. What is the result?
Most trainees can learn to reduce the slowing associated with theta power. They can increase the peak speed of their brain. This type of training can result in improved brain function. Training is not a medical treatment, it is not a cure but it is available now, There are no drug-related side effects. And the trainee (or his/her family) can actually see the changes as they happen or in a training review screen. Brain Maps are created before training begins and they can be repeated. Computer drive performance tests can monitor progress in real time.
So, if you have a loved one that suffers from disorders such as Alzheimer's, Dementia and age related cognitive decline, Quantitative neurofeedback providers can generate a brain map which will show the areas of the cortex that are operating at slower speeds than normal. Thereafter, if you decide to continue, training will target poorly operating areas of the brain. consider some of the peer reviewed articles: click here.
Learn more about neurofeedback click here.
John N Demos, MA, LCMHC, BCIA-BCN (EEG). The author of "Getting Started with Neurofeedback.