Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

A New Neurofeedback Protocol for Depression

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

A New Neurofeedback Protocol for Depression

Article excerpt

Context: Neurofeedback represents an exciting complementary option in the treatment of depression that builds upon a huge body of research on electroencephalographic correlates of depression. Objective: The objectives of this article are threefold: review the literature on neurofeedback protocols for depression; introduce a new protocol, which aims to synthesize the best qualities of the currently available protocols; and present the results of a small clinical experiment with the new protocol. Method: Structured survey of the literature; software development; clinical trial with one subject, submitted to ten sessions of neurofeedback (one hour each). Results: Currently there are twenty-one articles in neurofeedback for depression, among which only six present original experimental results. All of them report positive results with the technique. The most used protocols focus on Alpha inter-hemispheric asymmetry, and Theta/Beta ratio within the left prefrontal cortex. Our new protocol integrates both dimensions in a single circuit, adding to it a third programming line, which divides Beta frequencies and reinforces the decrease of Beta-3, in order to reduce anxiety. The favorable outcome of our clinical experiment, suggests that new research with this protocol is worthwhile.

Keywords: depression, neurofeedback, software development, clinical trial.

Contexto: El neurofeedback representa una excitante opción complementaria para el tratamiento de la depresión que se basa en un enorme cuerpo de investigación sobre los correlatos electroencefalográficos de la depresión. Objetivo: Los objetivos de este artículo son varios: revisar la literatura sobre los protocolos de neurofeedback para depresión; introducir un nuevo protocolo que pretende sintetizar las mejores cualidades de los protocolos actualmente disponibles; y presentar los resultados de un pequeño experimento clínico con el nuevo protocolo. Método: Inspección estructurada de la literatura; desarrollo de software; ensayo clínico con un participante sometido a diez sesiones de neurofeedback (una hora cada sesión). Resultados: Actualmente hay veintiún artículos sobre neurofeedback en depresión, entre los cuales solo seis presentan resultados experimentales originales. Todos ellos reportan resultados positivos con la técnica. Los protocolos más usados se centran en la asimetría inter-hemisférica de Alpha, y la razón Theta/Beta dentro del cortex prefrontal izquierdo. Nuestro nuevo protocolo integra ambas dimensiones en un solo circuito, añadiendo a una tercera línea de programación, que divide las frecuencias Beta y refuerza el decremento de Beta-3, con objeto de reducir la ansiedad. La consecuencia favorable de nuestro experimento clínico sugiere que nueva investigación con este protocolo es aconsejable.

Palabras clave: depresión, neurofeedback, desarrollo de software, ensayo clínico.

'Depression' is a broad and popular concept that has been widely used in reference to a state of diminished humor that stands beyond the relationship which one draws with specific stressors. The intensification and recurrence of this state gives birth to major depressive disorder (MDD), which is a much more specialized concept that psychologists and psychiatrists use to refer to a disabling condition that not only include the aforementioned (low) mood symptoms, but several other mental and organic manifestations (Lewis, 1934), ranging from neurovegetative abnormalities to cognitive and problem-solving deficits (Hamilton & Gotlib, 2008).

The most well-known models of MDD neurobiological basis focus on the neurochemical dysfunctions that accompany its phenomenological manifestations (of which the monoaminergic hypothesis is the most traditional: Delgado, 2000). Recently, alternative models have been proposed; with a special emphasis on the disorder's electroencephalographic (EEG) correlates. This new perspective opened a venue to the use of EEG for diagnostic and prognostic purposes, producing a new hope and excitement among patients and health practitioners, commonly seen today. …

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