Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 251–261 | Cite as

A Pilot Study of Neurofeedback for Chronic PTSD

  • Mark GapenEmail author
  • Bessel A. van der Kolk
  • Ed. Hamlin
  • Laurence Hirshberg
  • Michael Suvak
  • Joseph Spinazzola


EEG Biofeedback (also known as neurofeedback) has been in use as a clinical intervention for well over 30 years; however, it has made very little impact on clinical care. One reason for this has been the difficulty in designing research to measure clinical change in the real world. While substantial evidence exists for its efficacy in treating attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, relatively little evidence exists for its utility in other disorders including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The current study represents a “proof-of-concept” pilot for the use of neurofeedback with multiply-traumatized individuals with treatment-resistant PTSD. Participants completed 40 sessions of neurofeedback training two times per week with sensors randomly assigned (by the study coordinator, who was not blind to condition) to sensor placements of either T4-P4 or T3-T4. We found that neurofeedback significantly reduced PTSD symptoms (Davidson Trauma Scale scores averaged 69.14 at baseline to 49.26 at termination), and preceded gains in affect regulation (Inventory of Altered Self-Capacities-Affect Dysregulation scores averaged 23.63 at baseline to 17.20 at termination). We discuss a roadmap for future research.


EEG biofeedback Neurofeedback Treatment outcome Posttraumatic stress disorder Complex trauma 



Richard Jacobson, Ilya Yacevich, Regina Musicaro, Marla Zucker Ph.D., Hilary Hogdon Ph.D., Janice Stubblefield. This study was supported by a Grant from the ANS Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute (JRI)BrooklineUSA
  2. 2.Community Services Institute, Inc.SpringfieldUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  4. 4.National Child Traumatic Stress NetworkDurhamUSA
  5. 5.Center for the Advancement of Human PotentialInstitute for Applied NeuroscienceAshevilleUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyWestern Carolina UniversityCullowheeUSA
  7. 7.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of North Carolina Medical SchoolChapel HillUSA
  8. 8.National Center for PTSDBostonUSA
  9. 9.Department of PsychologySuffolk UniversityBostonUSA
  10. 10.The NeuroDevelopment CenterProvidenceUSA
  11. 11.Alpert Medical SchoolBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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