This is quite popularintervention in Anxiety Disorders, stress reduction, insomnia, performanceenhancement of the brain, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and so on.
HEG (hemoencephalography) is the study of blood flow in the brain. Morespecifically, HEG neurofeedback is the study of voluntarily controlled brainblood flow and corresponding changes (in oxygenation) that are fed back to theuser. HEG neurofeedback is different from typical brain exercises in that HEGneurofeedback training targets brain areas (usually in the prefrontal cortex)that correspond with particular challenges. For example, certain areas of thebrain do certain things; the prefrontal cortex (pfc) is involved with executivefunctions such as attention, organization and planning. You can think of thepfc as the captain of the ship and the rest of the brain as the crew; the pfcintegrates and analyses incoming information and by way of neuronalconnectivity, and mediates other brain area functions with the goal ofoptimizing survival.
It is considered one of the importanttherapeutic intervention across the globe. In this therapy, the prefrontalcortex (pfc) is targeted. In other words, this frontal lobe itself is known as‘seat of civilization’ by neuroscientists. What differentiates us from otherspecies is the prefrontal cortex which is bigger in size and most developed.This is the reason that the human being is intellectual species compare to allliving creatures on the earth.
The frontal lobes are considered emotionalcontrol centre and home to personality. The frontal lobes are involved in motorfunction, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, planning, decision making,complex thinking, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and socialand sexual behaviour.
HEGNeurofeedback is a kind of exercise for the brain via frontal lobe. During thecourse of therapy, the patient has to concentrate on the video played on thecomputer system. Due to this, the target region requires more fuel in the formof glucose and sugar which will be provided through carrier in the form ofoxygenated blood. Since it is a kind of training cum therapy for brain, as thetime progresses there is a visible improvement in the patient’s behaviour.
Dr.Robert Coben in 2006 studied efficacy of HEG Neurofeedback for 28 children on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Just in 20 trainingsessions of HEG-NFB, 90% of the children under study showed clinicallysignificant improvements across crucial developmental parameters:
· 42% reduction in autistic symptoms on ATEC
· 43% reduction in social interaction deficits
· 47% reduction in communication deficits
· 44% reduction in sensory/cognitive deficits
· 39% reduction in behavior deficits
· Statistically significant (p < .05)improvements in neuro-behavioral and cognitive functioning
A series of casestudies conducted by Limsila et al. (2004) analyzed the effects of HEG neurofeedbackin 180 children (ages 3 to 18) diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers noted that following 40 sessions of NIR-HEG at the sites FP1 andFP2, brain oxygen levels had increased by 53%. It was noted that nearly86% of these children increased their GPA after HEG training.
Other research byCohen in 2006 analysed the effects of HEG on patients with autism spectrumdisorder and anxiety disorders. This was a controlled study in which 40patients were non-randomly assigned to receive: NIR-HEG, PIR-HEG, or served asa control by being added to a “wait-list.” While all patients had alreadycompleted 20 sessions of EEG neurofeedback before HEG, significant improvementwas reported.
Specifically,improvements were noted as: 42% reduction in autistic symptoms, 55% decrease insocial deficits, and 90% improvement as reported by parents. Individualshad significantly improved in both neuropsychological and behavioralfunctioning. QEEG readings suggested that brain waves appeared to have normalized.
NIR-HEG was foundto have more benefit for attention, while PIR-HEG was suggested to offer morebenefit for emotional regulation and social skills. NIR-HEG differed fromPIR-HEG in terms of QEEG activation and outcomes.
Some research suggests that HEG neurofeedback iscapable of improving cognitive performance. Those with cognitive deficitsare thought to derive benefit from HEG training, but those without sufficientbenefits may find HEG training acts as a cognitive enhancer. The theoryis that by increasing cerebral blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, a personwill experience greater activation of that region and ultimately betterperformance.
A study conductedby Toomim, Mize, Kwong et al. discovered that after 10 HEG sessions for 30minutes, individuals with neurological deficits including Anxiety Disordersincreased their attention and decreased impulsivity. The degree ofimprovement among participants was evidenced by improvement in TOVA scores frombaseline.
Literature reviewsreveal that many brain function challenges are rooted in pfc executive functionfailure. For example, impulse control issues (associated with ADHD) aregenerally marked by pfc trouble including hypo profuse.
Active brain areas are marked by high oxygen density and higher than normaltemperature. Simple measurements can locate active brain areas. Note here thatwe have no sense that tells us where an active area is located. For examplewhen we stand, activity occurs in the motor strip across the top of the head,but we have no sensation with information about the exact location of thatactive bit of brain tissue.
From infancy on, we have learned to use specific parts of the brain foraccomplishing familiar tasks. We carry out the same learning process foranything new. We may want to do something we see others do or we try to dosomething that seems possible. Initially we accomplished it by trial and error.In trying, we find some modicum of success. We are encouraged, so we try againand again. We improve as we go and our brains reinforce and expand the existingneural network.
HEG neurofeedback gives the trainee greater control over the flow of bloodand the density of oxygenation at the chosen scalp location. Blood flowprovides the brain with oxygen and glucose. The flow of blood also acts as acooling system for the brain, similar to the work done by the radiator andcooling system in an automobile. On the one hand, diaphragmatic breathing andpracticing inverted yoga likely improve overall blood circulation in the brain,which may give one the sensation of being "clearheaded" (Francina,1997, p.21). On the other hand, during task performance cerebral blood flow(CBF) increases to Sptci/ic areas of the brain. If aspecific region of thebrain does not receive adequate blood flow at the right time, then thefunctions associated with that region will be compromised (Springer &Deutsch, 1998, p. 72 ).
There are several advantagesassociated with using HEG neurofeedback over other methods like EEGneurofeedback.
Accuracy: The accuracy ofHEG is considered superior to that of EEG due to the fact that there’s reducedlikelihood of external interference. Having a metal object in the area or otherelectrical signal may disrupt the results of an EEG, whereas they won’t disruptan HEG.
Cost: The cost of HEGneurofeedback sessions can be effective in long run compare to medicaltreatments or any other interventions available in the market.
Interpretation: It is relativelyeasy to interpret the “feedback” signal from HEG compared to EEG. This is dueto the fact that the signal is stable the entire time and you’re only dealingwith a single variable.
Less side effects: Those engaged inEEG neurofeedback run the risk of training the wrong frequencies in certainregions. Poor training without the use of a QEEG can result in performancedeficits and possible neurofeedback side effects. HEGneurofeedback by comparison is safer and unlikely to impede performance orresult in any side effects.
Non-Invasive: HEGneurofeedback involves wearing a headband-like device and is non-invasive. Youdon’t need to take any pharmaceutical pills, or sever open the skull to collectinformation. The feedback signal is attained from light frequenciescapable of penetrating the skull.
Self-training: The beauty ofHEG neurofeedback is that it’s so straightforward that you can conduct trainingsessions yourself. While working with an expert practitioner is alwayspreferred, it’s much tougher for something to go wrong during self-HEG trainingcompared to EEG training.
Simplicity: Most HEG unitsare small, easy to set up, and training sessions can be performed in thecomfort of your own home.
Applicability: HEG NFB is effective wide range of brain related issuesstarting from Anxiety disorders, stress reduction, migraine, memory issues toAutism Spectrum Disorder(ASD), ADHD, Learning Disorders, Dementia to name afew.
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