Neuroscience, Meet Clinical Psychology



It has been estimated that nearly one third of the general population experiences some type of sleep problem with ten percent meeting the criteria for a diagnosable sleep disorder. A recent report by the National Sleep Foundation indicated that "40% of adults" and "68% of teenagers" are getting less than the daily recommended amount of sleep for healthy physical, cognitive and emotional functioning. Current guidelines suggest 9 to 11 hours of daily sleep for school aged children, 8 to 10 hours for teenagers, and 7 to 9 hours for adults. They also recommend 2 hours of REM (rapid eye movement) or dream-state sleep and one hour of deep (delta stage) sleep. If you or someone you love is not getting enough sleep, you may already by experiencing the debilitating effects of insomnia.

Insomnia's cumulative cognitive consequences are not to be underestimated. They include decreased adaptive memory, impaired memory consolidation, problems with retention of new information and inhibition of the necessary nightly pruning of damaged and functionally obsolete neurons. In addition, insomnia has been found to interfere with REM or rapid eye movement sleep, associated with dreaming and the effective processing of the day's psycho-emotional experiences. In addition, it has also been found to disrupt motor and visual learning that otherwise enhanced, through the cognitive or imaginative rehearsal that typically accompanies sound sleep.


A randomized, controlled study (Hoedlmoser et al., 2008) demonstrated that only 10 neurofeedback sessions focused on reinforcing the SMR resulted in an increase in sleep spindles and reduced sleep latency. Because memory consolidation occurs during sleep, this study also documented improved memory in the subjects. This study replicated findings some earlier studies (Berner, Schabus, Wienerroither, & Klimesch, 2006; Sterman, Howe, & MacDonald, 1970). Hammer et al. (2011) published a randomized, single-blind controlled study documenting the effectiveness of 20 sessions of live Z-score training in the treatment of insomnia. Individualized neurofeedback was also shown in control group studies by Hauri (1981; Hauri, Percy, Hellekson, Hartmann, & Russ, 1982) to have long-lasting effects with insomnia patients. A recent randomized control group study (Cortoos, De Valck, Arns, Breteler, & Cluydts, 2010) of primary insomnia patients found an average of 18 sessions of home neurofeedback training administered over the Internet produced a significant improvement in the time required to fall asleep and a significant improvement in total sleep time as measured in a sleep lab compared with a control group. Even three schizophrenic or schizoaffective patients with disturbed sleep all showed improvement in sleep quality when compared with a control group (Cortoos et al., in press).


3800 N. Wilke Suite 160

Arlington Heights, IL 60004