Alpha Theta      Neurofeedback


A Theory of Alpha/Theta Neurofeedback, Creative Performance Enhancement, Long Distance Functional Connectivity and Psychological Integration

Professionally significant enhancement of music and dance performance and mood has followed training with an EEG-neurofeedback protocol which increases the ratio of theta to alpha waves using auditory feedback with eyes closed. While originally the protocol was designed to induce hypnogogia, a state historically associated with creativity, the outcome was psychological integration, while subsequent applications focusing on raising the theta–alpha ratio, reduced depression and anxiety in alcoholism and resolved post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). In optimal performance studies we confirmed associations with creativity in musical performance, but effects also included technique and communication. We extended efficacy to dance and social anxiety. Diversity of outcome has a counterpart in wide ranging associations between theta oscillations and behaviour in cognitive and affective neuroscience: in animals with sensory motor activity in exploration, effort, working memory, learning, retention and REM sleep; in man with meditative concentration, reduced anxiety and sympathetic autonomic activation, as well as task demands in virtual spatial navigation, focused and sustained attention, working and recognition memory, and having implications for synaptic plasticity and long term potentiation. Neuroanatomical circuitry involves the ascending mescencephalic-cortical arousal system, and limbic circuits subserving cognitive as well as affective/ motivational functions. Working memory and meditative bliss, representing cognitive and affective domains, respectively, involve coupling between frontal and posterior cortices, exemplify a role for theta and alpha waves in mediating the interaction between distal and widely distributed connections. It is posited that this mediation in part underpins the integrational attributes of alpha–theta training in optimal performance and psychotherapy, creative associations in hypnogogia, and enhancement of technical, communication and artistic domains of performance in the arts.

Optimizing Microsurgical Skills With EEG Neurofeedback

 By enabling individuals to self-regulate their brainwave activity in the field of optimal performance in healthy individuals, neurofeedback has been found to improve cognitive and artistic performance. Here we assessed whether two distinct EEG neurofeedback protocols could develop surgical skill, given the important role this skill plays in medicine.

Treatment of Anxiety Disorder with Neurofeedback: Case Study

The objective of the present study is to report the effects of beta-increase and alpha- increase EEG feedback training along with alpha-theta biofeedback training in two patients diagnosed with anxiety disorder. The,Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90-mR) and patients’ self reports were used as objective measures of treatment efficacy. Following 30 sessions of EEG biofeedback within a three-month period, patients reported a significant reduction in anxiety-related symptoms. At one-year follow-up, results of SCL-90-R showed all clinical scales within normal range. In addition, self-reports confirmed that the patients were symptom free. In general, the current study findings demonstrated that neurofeedback was an effective treatment for anxiety disorder.

Replication of Elite Music Performance Enhancement Following Alpha/Theta Neurofeedback and Application to Novice PPerformance and Improvisation With SMR Benefits

Alpha/theta (A/T) and sensory-motor rhythm (SMR) neurofeedback were compared in university instrumentalists who were novice singers with regard to prepared and improvised instrumental and vocal performance in three music domains: creativity/musicality, technique and communication/presentation. Only A/T training enhanced advanced playing seen in all three domains by expert assessors and validated by correlations with learning indices, strongest with Creativity/Musicality as shown by Egner and Gruzelier (2003). Here A/T gains extended to novice performance – prepared vocal, improvised vocal and instrumental – and were recognised by a lay audience who judged the prepared folk songs. SMR learning correlated positively with Technical Competence and Communication in novice performance, in keeping with SMR neurofeedback’s known impact on lower-order processes such as attention, working memory and psychomotor skills. The importance of validation through learning indices was emphasised in the interpretation of neurofeedback outcome.

Theories of the Effectiveness of Alpha-Theta Training for Multiple Disorders

This chapter discusses the theories of the effectiveness of alpha-theta training for multiple disorders. Alpha-theta neurotherapy has demonstrated that causing the brain to generate theta activity daily over a period of time seems to have enormous benefits, including boosting the immune system, enhancing creativity, and triggering or facilitating “integrative experiences leading to feelings of psychological well-being.” The protocol seems to transcend the patient's lack of motivation to change, initial incapacity to create internal visual imagery, and disbelief in the effectiveness of the treatment. Frequently, a patient's experience and results far exceed the goals targeted. Alpha-theta EEG state of arousal seems to create a link to a subconscious realm where a wider vision of the self without its ego adaptations is contacted. This link may be associated with concepts of context and state-dependent learning and memory.

Alpha-Theta Brainwave Training: Instrumental Vipassana?

Seventy years ago, though details were lacking, most physicians and psychologists knew that localized areas of the cerebral cortex were instrumental in proper functioning of perceptual, motor, and intellectual processes. Then, sixty years ago, it began to be suspected that the sub-cortical brain complex now called the limbic system was associated with specific emotional processes, and Papez eventually wrote his ground-breaking paper titled "A Proposed Mechanism of Emotion." 1 MacLean followed with his seminal paper titled "Psychosomatic Disease and the 'Visceral Brain'" and began developing his theory of the triune brain, the cortex (for intelligence), the limbic system (for emotion), and the hypothalamic-brain-stem complex (the reptilian brain, for physiologic functions).

New Research Regarding EEG Neurofeedback and Musician

Researchers from Imperial College London and Charing Cross Hospital have discovered a way to help musicians improve their musical performances by an average of up to 17 per cent, equivalent to an improvement of one grade or class of honours. The research published in this months edition of Neuroreport, shows that using a process known as neurofeedback, students at London's Royal College of Music were able to improve their performance across a number of areas including their musical understanding and imagination, and their communication with the audience.





Alpha-Theta Brainwave Neuro-Feedbackfor Vietnam Veterans with Combat Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPl) was used to assess personality changes in Vietnam combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After either traditional medical treatment (TC) or alpha-theta brainwave neurofeedback therapy (BWT). Application a brainwave training for thirty 30-minute sessions resulted in decreases in MMPI T-scores on clinical scales labelled hypochondriasis, depression, hysteria, psychopathic deviant, masculinity-femininity, paranoia, psychosthenia, schizophrenia, hypomania, and social introversion-extroversion. The traditional medical control group showed decreases in T-scores only on the scale labeled schizophrenia. All fourteen BTW patients initially receiving psychotropic medication reduced their dosages after treatment, but only one of thirteen TC patients reduced dosage. A thirty-month follow-up study showed that all fourteen TC patients had relapsed. In contrast to only three of fifteen BTW patients. These flndings indicate that application of alpha-theta brainwave training is a more efficacioustreatment modality in the treatment of PTSD and prevention of relapse.


Effects of an EEG Biofeedback Protocol on a Mixed Substance Abusing Population

This study examined whether an EEG biofeedback protocol could improve outcome measures for a mixed substance abusing inpatient population. Method. One hundred twenty-one volunteers undergoing an inpatient substance abuse program were randomly assigned to the EEG biofeedback or control group. EEG biofeedback included training in Beta and SMR to address attentional variables, followed by an alpha-theta protocol​. Subjects received a total of 40 to 50 biofeedback sessions. The control group received additional time in treatment equivalent to experimental procedure time. The Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA), and MMPI, were administered with both tester and subject blind as to group placement to obtain unbiased data. Treatment retention and abstinence rates as well as psychometric and cognitive measures were compared.

Neurofeedback Training for Opiate Addiction: Improvement of Mental Health and Craving

Psychological improvements in patients with substance use disorders have been reported after neurofeedback treatment. However, neurofeedback has not been commonly accepted as a treatment for substance dependence. This study was carried out to examine the effectiveness of this therapeutic method for opiate dependence disorder. The specific aim was to investigate whether treatment leads to any changes in mental health and substance craving. In this experimental study with a pre-post test design, 20 opiate dependent patients undergoing Methadone or Buprenorphine maintenance treatment were examined and matched and randomized into two groups. While both experimental and control groups received their usual maintenance treatment, the experimental group received 30 sessions of neurofeedback treatment in addition. The neurofeedback treatment consisted of sensory motor rhythm training on Cz, followed by an alpha-theta protocol on Pz. Data from the general health questionnaire and a heroin craving questionnaire were collected before and after treatment. Multivariate analysis of covariance showed that the experimental group achieved improvement in somatic symptoms, depression, and total score in general mental health; and in anticipation of positive outcome, desire to use opioid, and relief from withdrawal of craving in comparison with the control group. The study supports the effectiveness of neurofeedback training as a therapeutic method in opiate dependence disorder, in supplement to pharmacotherapy.

"Native Americans, Neurofeedback, and Substance Abuse Theory"

Three Year Outcome of Alpha/Theta Neurofeedback Training in the Treatment of Problem Drinking among Dine' (Navajo) People

This three year follow-up study presents the treatment outcomes of 19 Dine’ (Navajo) clients who completed a culturally sensitive, alpha/theta neurofeedback training program. In an attempt to both replicate the earlier positive studies of Peniston (1989) and to determine if neurofeedback skills would significantly decrease both alcohol consumption and other behavioral indicators of substance abuse, these participants received an average of 40 culturally modified neurofeedback training sessions. This training was adjunctive to their normal 33 day residential treatment.

Saxby Penniston Study

This was an experimental study of 14 alcoholic outpatients using the Peniston and Kulkosky (1989, 1991) brain wave treatment protocol for alcohol abuse. After temperature biofeedback pretraining, experimental subjects completed 20 40-minutes sessions of alpha-theta brainwave neurofeedback training (BWNT). Experimentally treated alcoholics with depressive syndrome showed sharp reductions in self-assessed depression (Beck's Depression Inventory). On the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Invetory-I, the experimental subjects showed significant decreases on the BR scores: schizoid, avoidant, dependent, histrionic, passive-aggression, schizotypal, borderline, anxiety, somatoform, hypomanic, dysthmic, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, psychotic thinking, and psychotic depression. Twenty-one-month follow up data indicated sustained prevention of relapse in alcoholics who completed BWNT.

An Overview Of Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback And Its Treatment Effectiveness For Substance Abuse

Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, has been used successfully for the treatment of substance abuse for over 25 years. Built on the work of Kamiya and Green (Budzynski, 1999), Eugene Peniston published a series of papers using alpha-theta neurofeedback with a Veteran’s Administration (VA) population of Vietnam War veterans diagnosed with alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Peniston & Kulkosky, 1989; Peniston & Kulkosky, 1990; Peniston, Marrinan, Deming, & Kulkosky, 1993). These important ‘Peniston papers’ no doubt facilitated a wave of EEG practitioners who rely on alpha-theta neurofeedback, or its modified forms, to treat substance abuse (as well as PTSD) that continues to this day.


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