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A Pilot Study of Neurofeedback for Chronic PTSD

Abstract

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.

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Notes

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    Because the natural-log of zero is undefined, the transformed variable was calculated by takin the natural log of our time variable plus one. The natural-log of 1 is zero; therefore, the intercept for the natural-log model represented outcome levels at the first assessment.

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Acknowledgments

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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Correspondence to Mark Gapen.

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Gapen, M., van der Kolk, B.A., Hamlin, E. et al. A Pilot Study of Neurofeedback for Chronic PTSD. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback 41, 251–261 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10484-015-9326-5

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Keywords

  • EEG biofeedback
  • Neurofeedback
  • Treatment outcome
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Complex trauma