Dec. 3, 2013 —
Science Daily/University of Western Ontario
Pioneering research conducted at Western University points to a promising avenue for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): utilising neurofeedback training to alter the plasticity of brain networks linked to the condition.
uring neurofeedback, intentional control of one's own brain activity may be learned with what's called a brain-computer interface, which is able to represent graphically a person's real-time brain activation on a computer. This can be done noninvasively with brainwave activities, for example, where the computer monitor behaves like a virtual "mirror" to real electrical oscillations produced by neurons in the cortex. These are recorded by surface sensors on the scalp, also known as an electroencephalogram (EEG).
Senior author and principal investigator Dr. Ruth Lanius, a professor at the Department of Psychiatry at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and a scientist with Lawson Health Research Institute, adds "The last decade of neuroscience research has offered a deeper understanding of the key brain networks involved in cognitive and emotional functions.
We are now on the threshold of being able to use this information to understand the neural mechanisms underlying certain disorders and their treatments. Neurofeedback offers great promise as a type of brain training that is directly based on the functional activation of these brain networks. We are therefore thrilled to see the first evidence of this in action, along with significant changes in subjective well-being. Our hope and vision for the future is that this approach could improve and potentially augment PTSD treatment."