Neurofeedback with low-cost, wearable electroencephalography (EEG) reduces symptoms in chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Naomi Du Bois, Alain Desire Bigirimana, Attila Korik, Lisette Gaju Kéthina, Eugène Rutembesa, Jean Mutabaruka, Leon Mutesa, Girijesh Prasad, Stefan Jansen, Damien Coyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The study examines the effectiveness of both neurofeedback and motor-imagery brain-computer interface (BCI) training, which promotes self-regulation of brain activity, using low-cost electroencephalography (EEG)-based wearable neurotechnology outside a clinical setting, as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Rwanda.
Methods: Participants received training/treatment sessions along with a pre- and post- intervention clinical assessment, (N = 29; control n = 9, neurofeedback (NF, 7 sessions) n = 10, and motor-imagery (MI, 6 sessions) n = 10). Feedback was presented visually via a videogame. Participants were asked to regulate (NF) or intentionally modulate (MI) brain activity to affect/control the game.
Results: The NF group demonstrated an increase in resting-state alpha 8–12 Hz bandpower following individual training sessions, termed alpha ‘rebound’ (Pz channel, p = 0.025, all channels, p = 0.024), consistent with previous research findings. This alpha ‘rebound’, unobserved in the MI group, produced a clinically relevant reduction in symptom severity in NF group, as revealed in three of seven clinical outcome measures: PCL-5 (p = 0.005), PTSD screen (p = 0.005), and HTQ (p = 0.005). Limitations: Data collection took place in environments that posed difficulties in controlling environmental factors. Nevertheless, this limitation improves ecological validity, as neurotechnology treatments must be deployable outside controlled environments, to be a feasible technological treatment.
Conclusions: The study produced the first evidence to support a low-cost, neurotechnological solution for neurofeedback as an effective treatment of PTSD for victims of acute trauma in conflict zones in a developing country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319-1334
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume295
Early online date31 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Neurofeedback
  • Motor imagery
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Brain-computer interface (BCI)
  • Rwanda

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