Peak BrainHappiness Training Blog

Our Training Approach Produces Faster EEG Changes Again--In Autism

Dr. Jon Cowan - Monday, January 18, 2016

I have never sent out newsletters this frequently before, but I just found out that a new article has been published online in Frontiers in Neuroscience which confirms the effectiveness of our Peak BrainHappiness Training in improving traditionally accepted EEG markers of change, and once again indicates that our measures show larger, more significant changes.  This time the research was done in a far more difficult population--high functioning autistic children.  Our Focused Attention measure was once again improved by the training, and there were less significant decreases in several theta-beta ratios--traditional measures of improved attention, as also seen in Hillard and Sokhadze's ADHD training study

The approach here was somewhat different than the ADHD study, since it simultaneously trained the autistic children to successfully increase Neureka!, our measure of the 40 Hz. rhythm that the brain uses to bind the various cortical changes produced by an event into a meaningful whole--known as the Event Binding Rhythm.  As you might expect, these improvements in EEG functioning were accompanied by significant improvements in Social Withdrawal and Hyperactivity in only 18 sessions. I think the children learned to make better sense of their experiences and therefore respond more appropriately from the combination of Focus and Neureka! training. 

The article, "Relative Power of Specific EEG Bands and Their Ratios during Neurofeedback Training in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder" by Yao Wang, Estate Sokhadze, Ayman El-Baz, Xiaoli Li, Lonnie Sears, Manuel Casanova, and Allan Tasman, was published online in Frontiers in Neuroscience on January 14, in an issue edited by Dr. Rob Coben, an expert on neurofeedback treatment of autism.   Dr. Sokhadze designed the study and trained the clients, which was analyzed and written up by Yao Wang, a graduate student from the People's Republic of China.  Since it is Open Access, we have posted a copy on our website.  Dr. Sokhadze was presented the 2015 Distinguished Scientist Award from the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback for this line of studies.

The article states "Our study showed that compared to previous protocols that required more sessions per subject (>30) and a more frequent training rate (e.g., twice per week), the statistically significant improvement either in EEG or in behavioral measures (Sokhadze et al., 2009) can also be achieved within a shorter number of sessions (i.e.,18 NFB sessions in ASD, or even 12 sessions in ADHD, Hillard et al.,2013) and weekly visits."  According to Dr. Sokhadze, "Although we still need to analyze some of the data about changes in social responsiveness, we did see improvements in social withdrawal and hyperactivity.  Apparently the parents felt that their children were improving, because we had no dropouts throughout the course of the 18-session study.  Each autistic child is a very individual case, so it is hard to say how many sessions it will take for the maximum improvement to occur.  The method is certainly worthy of further exploration due to its simplicity, acceptability by the children and parents, and effectiveness even when administered only once a week."

For me, this is another piece in the puzzle that shows that neurofeedback can help autism. Lisette Markham and I presented the first case study of successful neurofeedback treatment of autism, about 22 years ago.  The 8 year old girl, who was diagnosed as autistic by three different agencies, overcame it completely due to our therapy, according to the Indiana University Research Institute on Autism.  She eventually graduated as a rather chatty valedictorian of her high school, and has finished college.  

I have also watched my son overcome his autism, stuttering, and associated epilepsy through years of neurofeedback training as we pilot tested these approaches.  He is now working two jobs, including being a greeter at Meijers.  He developed a lot of enthusiasm for this approach, and ran many sessions on his own.  I think that many high-functioning autistics can be taught to run sessions on their own.  Since we really don't know how many sessions it will take for a child to reach maximum benefit, and we do know that puberty can produce setbacks which require additional sessions, it makes economic sense for parents to invest in a home training unit like the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer, for the entire family.   

The same neurofeedback system, the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer, which features the Neureka! protocol, can be used to increase happiness and health, as described in our last newsletter.  No other system can do either of these.  

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