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neurofeedback Research

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)


Infra Low Frequency Neurofeedback Training for Trauma Recovery: A Case Report
by Hanno Kirk, Monica Geers Dahl

This paper recounts the history of neurofeedback in application to PTSD, with a primary focus on combat-related trauma among military veterans. The role of different protocols is discussed. The long-term history of recovery by a veteran, by way of ILF neurofeedback and complementary Alpha-Theta training is presented. Symptom-tracking data are shown in the Figure for eleven dominant complaints. Symptom severity is appraised on a 0-10 Likert scale. Symptom severity declined from an average of 9.1 to an average of 1.8 over the course of 66 training sessions that extended over several years.

Results of symptom tracking over 66 sessions, which extended over several years.

Front. Hum. Neurosci. 16:905823. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2022.905823

Infra Low Frequency Neurofeedback for PTSD: A Therapist's Perspective
by Regula Spreyermann

This paper presents ILF neurofeedback as an adjunctive therapy in a traditional outpatient trauma psychotherapy (plus supportive medication) program, in application to complex PTSD. Two representative case histories are presented. “Overall, a rather satisfying result of this outpatient treatment program can be seen in the qualitative appraisal of 7 years of practical application.…the combination of trauma-based psychotherapy and ILF neurofeedback has led to surprising and motivating results.” “Only two of 80 patients failed to respond positively to the neurofeedback.”

Front. Hum. Neurosci. 16:893830. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2022.893830

Infra-Low Frequency Neurofeedback in the treatment of patients with chronic eating disorder and comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder.
by Anna Winkeler, Markus Winkeler, Hartmut Imgart

Another study evaluated ILF Neurofeedback in application to patients suffering from eating disorders and comorbid PTSD (Winkeler et al, ). 36 patients underwent either individually optimized training with three principal protocols for 12 sessions or a control condition, media-supported relaxation training. Better outcomes were observed in the active training group with respect to trauma-associated avoidance, restraint eating, and increase in body weight. No 'complications' such as non-compliance, severe self-injury, or suicidal behavior were observed in the treatment group, versus five such events in the control group. Perceived benefit was also higher in the treatment group.

The Evolution of a Trauma ProtocolOver a Quarter Century
by Siegfried Othmer, PhD and Susan F. Othmer, BA

We present what has emerged in our clinician network as a comprehensive neurofeedback strategy to resolve trauma syndromes. The historical development is presented, albeit from our own parochial perspective. The initial point of departure was the Alpha-Theta protocol targeting psychological resolution. Preliminary stages of brain training serve to enhance the subsequent success of the Alpha-Theta experience. These targeted physiological regulation in various ways. Over time, the primary burden shifted ever more toward the physiological resolution aspects of the therapy. PTSD came to be understood fundamentally in terms of a model of physiological dysregulation. This monograph relates how the comprehensive strategy emerged. Some case reports and group data are presented in support of the therapeutic strategy.

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Utilization of Infra-Low Frequency Neurofeedback in the Recovery from trauma of torture victims among war refugees in Sweden.
by Othmer S PhD

Summary: In follow-up of a previously successful pilot study by the Swedish Red Cross in Malm�, the Red Cross in Stockholm undertook to evaluate Infra-Low Frequency Neurofeedback Training with victims of torture who had not responded to conventional treatment for period of from six months to several years. Five such refugees were offered twenty sessions of ILF neurofeedback, and demonstrated substantial recovery for the symptoms being tracked.

The summary results are shown here:

The average/mean value of the patients� symptom severity.
Figure 1: Average recovery curves for the five participants are indicated in the Figure for eighteen of the twenty sessions, for the symptoms listed in the legend. The first symptom appraisal took place only after the first session, and the last assessment took place at the twentieth session, and therefore does not reflect the gains attributable to the first and last sessions. Substantial remediation of their critical complaints is indicated.

When all the symptoms are averaged, the following curve is obtained:

The average/mean value of the patients� symptom severity.
Figure 2: Average value for all patients and all symptoms. A decline by more than 50% in severity over the 18 sessions is observed.

There is no indication yet of a plateau being reached in the training, so additional sessions are likely to be useful.

This is expected on the basis of all the prior work with PTSD in general, and torture victims in particular.

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(Unofficial translation. Not approved by the Swedish Red Cross)

Remediation of PTSD using Infra-Low Frequency Neurofeedback Training
by Othmer S PhD
EEG Info Newsletter - March 7, 2012

The careers of the scientist/practitioners in the field have undoubtedly had in common the experience of gradually rising expectations about what is possible to achieve in terms of improved self-regulatory capacity and mental functioning with the aid of neurofeedback. One might have expected some plateauing after a while, a firming up of one's expectations, but the surprises keep coming and they are consistently on the upside. In our own experience, one of the biggest surprises has been the growing effectiveness of neurofeedback with PTSD, along with the related conditions of developmental trauma and the autism spectrum. All of these conditions had seemed so utterly intractable in the past.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - The Neurofeedback Remedy [pdf]
by Othmer S PhD, Othmer S BA
Biofeedback Magazine, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp. 24-31 (2009)
© Association for Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback:

The application of neurofeedback to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in returning veterans is described herein and is illustrated with two case histories. Initially, frequency-based electroencephalogram training was employed to promote functional recovery, in the manner of the traditional sensorimotor rhythm/beta approach. An optimization procedure was employed in which the reinforcement frequency is tailored to the client on the basis of symptom response, with particular regard for the regulation of arousal.
Recovery from PTSD: A Vietnam Veteran
by Othmer S PhD
EEG Info Newsletter - February 19, 2009

We have just experienced a remarkably quick recovery from PTSD symptoms in a Vietnam veteran. The case is illustrative of the more rapid pace of recovery that is achievable with the latest neurofeedback techniques that encompass the infra-low range of EEG frequencies. The veteran has had a forty-year history of PTSD, and was rescued from homelessness by the Salvation Army here in Los Angeles. He came to our offices for intensive neurofeedback training through the auspices of the Salvation Army. In exchange for our providing services at no cost, the veteran has allowed us to make his case history available for the benefit of other clinicians.
EEG Feedback for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
by Othmer S PhD
EEG Info Newsletter - April 21, 2008

The utility of EEG feedback or Neurofeedback in the resolution of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has already been established in research going back more than a decade. We now use it routinely with veterans in connection with our volunteer services (through Homecoming for Veterans - ). The world at large, however, remains to be convinced of the superiority of EEG feedback in the resolution of PTSD.

Research Papers

The Peniston-Kulkosky Brainwave Neurofeedback Therapeutic Protocol: The Future Psychotherapy for Alcoholism/PTSD/Behavioral Medicine
by Peniston EO Ed.D., A.B.M.P.P., B.C.E.T.S., F.A.A.E.T.S.

Electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback has been in use since the early 1970's for treatment of anxiety disorders and a variety of psychosomatic disorders. Early work conducted by researchers such as Kamiya and Kliterman focused on alpha wave biofeedback (Kamyi &anp; Noles, 1970). Much of this initial research associated changes in EEG state with different states of consciousness (Basmajian, 1989).
The Effects of Brief, Eyes-Open Alpha Brain Wave Training with Audio and Video Relaxation Induction on the EEG of 77 Army Reservists
by Putman J M.A.

Recently, psychologist Barry Sterman of the UCLA School of Medicine became involved in measuring the brainwave activity of pilots engaged in a variety of tasks for the purpose of identifying the brainwave correlates of peak performance under different load conditions.
Child trauma, Attachment and Biofeedback Mitigation [abs.]
by Pop-Jordanova N and Zorcec T

The aim of this study is to investigate the correlation between the quality of attachment in early infancy and the effects of child trauma, as well as to introduce some innovative therapeutic approaches. For this reason, a group of 10 children manifesting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), diagnosed by ICD-10, was selected.
EEG Signature and Phenomenology of Alpha/Theta Neurofeedback Training Versus Mock Feedback [abs.]
by Egner T, Strawson E, Gruzelier JH

Alpha/theta (a/t) neurofeedback training has in the past successfully been used as a complementary therapeutic relaxation technique in the treatment of alcoholism. In spite of positive clinical outcomes, doubts have been cast on the protocol's specificity when compared to alternative relaxation regimes.
Differential Shaping of EEG Theta Rhythms [abs.]
by Sittenfeld P, Budzynski T, Stoyva J

Heart rate, EEG, frontal EMG, and forearm EMG were recorded in 20 subjects for 3 baseline, 8 feedback, and 2 postbaseline sessions in order to compare two biofeedback methods of teaching subjects to increase theta EEG activity. Subjects were divided into high- and low-EMG groups.

Recent Research

Mind over chatter: Plastic up-regulation of the fMRI salience network directly after EEG neurofeedback.
Ros T, Théberge J, Frewen PA, Kluetsch R, Densmore M, Calhoun VD, and Lanius RA
NeuroImage, 65, 2013, pp 324-35

Improving Visual Perception through Neurofeedback.
Scharnowski F, Hutton C, Josephs O, Weiskopf N, and Rees G
Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 2012, pp 17830-41

The effectiveness of neurofeedback training on EEG coherence and neuropsychological functions in children with reading disability.
Nazari MA, Mosanezhad E, Hashemi T, and Jahan A
Clinical EEG and Neuroscience, 43, 2012, pp 315-22

Self-regulation of brain oscillations as a treatment for aberrant brain connections in children with autism.
Pineda JA, Juavinett A, and Datko M
Medical Hypotheses, 79, 2012, pp 790-8

Evidence-based information on the clinical use of neurofeedback for ADHD.
Moriyama TS, Polanczyk G, Caye A, Banaschewski T, Brandeis D, and Rohde LA
Neurotherapeutics, 9, 2012, pp 588-98

Current status of neurofeedback for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Lofthouse N, Arnold LE, and Hurt E
Current Psychiatry Reports, 14, 2012, pp 536-42

Individual alpha neurofeedback training effect on short term memory.
Nan W, Rodrigues JP, Ma J, Qu X, Wan F, Mak PI, Mak PU, Vai MI, and Rosa A
International Journal of Psychophysiology, 86, 2012, pp 83-7

Neurotherapy of traumatic brain injury/posttraumatic stress symptoms in OEF/OIF veterans.
Nelson DV, and Esty ML
Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 24, 2012, pp 237-40

Schizophrenia and the efficacy of qEEG-guided neurofeedback treatment: a clinical case series.
Surmeli T, Ertem A, Eralp E, and Kos IH
Clinical EEG and Neuroscience, 43, 2012, pp 133-44

Which attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder children will be improved through neurofeedback therapy?
Ahmadlou M, Rostami R, and Sadeghi V
Neuroscience Letters, 516, 2012, pp 156-60

Neurofeedback in children with ADHD: validation and challenges.
Gevensleben H, Rothenberger A, Moll GH, and Heinrich H
Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 12, 2012, pp 447-60

Taking back the brain: could neurofeedback training be effective for relieving distressing auditory verbal hallucinations in patients with schizophrenia?
McCarthy-Jones S
Schizophrenia Bulletin, 38, 2012, pp 678-82

A review of neurofeedback treatment for pediatric ADHD.
Lofthouse N, Arnold LE, Hersch S, Hurt E, and DeBeus R
Journal of Attention Disorders, 16, 2012, pp 351-72

PTSD News & Media

Regaining Control: Neurofeedback & PTSD
Cranium Chronicles: Neurofeedback and PTSD

PTSD: Neurofeedback at The Salvation Army Bell Shelter [video]

PTSD: SPECT Scan Pre/Post [video]