HUMAN PERFORMANCE CLINIC

Neuroscience, Meet Clinical Psychology

 

Anxiety and Depression
Encouraging preliminary research has been published for the effectiveness of neurofeedback in treating anxiety with 10 controlled studies that have been identified (Hammond, 2005c; Moore, 2000). Of the eight studies of anxiety that were reviewed, seven found positive changes. Another study (Passini, Watson, Dehnel, Herder, & Watkins, 1977) used only 10 hr of neurofeedback with anxious alcoholics and found very significant improvements in state and trait anxiety compared to a control group, with results sustained on 18-month follow-up. A randomized, blinded, controlled study (Egner & Gruzelier, 2003) was done with performance anxiety at London’s Royal College of Music. They evaluated the ability of alpha/theta neurofeedback to enhance musical performance in high-talent-level musicians when they were performing under stressful conditions where their performance was being evaluated. When compared with alternative treatment groups (physical exercise, mental skills training, Alexander Technique training, and two other neurofeedback protocols that focused more on enhancing concentration), only the alpha/ theta neurofeedback group resulted in enhancement of real-life musical performance under stress. Similar randomized controlled studies reducing performance anxiety have been conducted with musical performance (Egner & Gruzelier, 2003), ballroom dance performance (Raymond, Sajid, Parkinson, & Gruzelier, 2005), and performance in singing (Kleber, Gruzelier, Bensch, & Birbaumer, 2008; Leach, Holmes, Hirst, & Gruzelier, 2008).

In a randomized, placebo-controlled study with medical students (Raymond, Varney, Parkinson, & Gruzelier, 2005) neurofeedback enhanced mood, confidence, feeling energetic and composed.


Neurofeedback has also been shown with objective measures to improve depression (Baehr, Rosenfeld, & Baehr, 2001; Hammond, 2001a, 2005b; Hammond & Baehr, 2009). The degree to which depressed patients were able to normalize their EEG activity during neurofeedback has been found to significantly correlate with improvement in depressive symptoms (Paquette, Beauregard, & Beaulieu-Prevost, 2009). A blinded, placebo-controlled study (Choi et al., 2011) demonstrated the superiority of neurofeedback over a placebo treatment in reducing depression while improving executive function.

 

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