The study, published in the journal Neurolmage: Clinical, indicates that neurofeedback, also called ‘brain training,’ — consists of exercises where individuals regulate their own brain activity — was effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD.
“Brain connectivity involves different parts of the brain communicating with each other and helps to regulate states of consciousness, thought, mood and emotion,” said researcher Ruth Lanius from the Western University in Canada.
“Individuals with PTSD tend to have disrupted patterns of brain connectivity, but our research suggests they can exercise their brains to restore patterns to a healthy balance,” Lanius added.
Neurofeedback uses a system called a neurofeedback loop in which a person’s brain activity is measured through sensors placed on the scalp and displayed back to them using a computer interface. This allows the individual to complete exercises and visually see the results.
For the study, the team tested neurofeedback with a total of 72 participants, including 36 participants with PTSD and 36 healthy control participants.
Of those with PTSD, 18 were randomized to participate in neurofeedback treatment while the other 18 acted as a comparison group.
The study found that the severity of PTSD symptoms decreased in participants randomized to receive neurofeedback treatment.
After treatment, 61.1 per cent of participants no longer met the definition for PTSD. This remission rate is comparable to gold standard therapies like trauma-focused psychotherapy.
The research team also used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to capture brain scans of participants both before and after participation in the trial.
They found that individuals with PTSD experienced positive changes in brain connectivity in the salience network and the default mode network following neurofeedback treatment.
“Neurofeedback could offer an accessible and effective treatment option for individuals with PTSD. The treatment is easily scalable for implementation in rural areas and even at home,” the researchers said.
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