EEG – Lessons From A Half-Million Brains

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Listen to the full podcast here Jay Gunkelman Podcast

This week we’re joined by QEEG Diplomate (yes, that’s a term!) and founder of Brain Science International Jay Gunkelman, to talk Electroencephalography.  After analyzing over a half-million EEG scans, Jay has a pretty robust set of human brain data at his disposal… And he uses that body of knowledge to guide the work of psychiatric and other health professionals who make proscriptive recommendations about patients’ brains.

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Differential effects of theta/beta and SMR neurofeedback in ADHD on sleep onset latency

Recent studies suggest a role for sleep and sleep problems in the etiology of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a recent model about the working mechanism of sensori-motor rhythm (SMR) neurofeedback, proposed that this intervention normalizes sleep and thus improves ADHD symptoms such as inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. In this study we compared adult ADHD patients (N = 19) to a control group (N = 28) and investigated if differences existed in sleep parameters such as Sleep Onset Latency (SOL), Sleep Duration (DUR) and overall reported sleep problems (PSQI) and if there is an association between sleep-parameters and ADHD symptoms. Secondly, in 37 ADHD patients we investigated the effects of SMR and Theta/Beta (TBR) neurofeedback on ADHD symptoms and sleep parameters and if these sleep parameters may mediate treatment outcome to SMR and TBR neurofeedback. In this study we found a clear continuous relationship between self-reported sleep problems (PSQI) and inattention in adults with- and without-ADHD. TBR neurofeedback resulted in a small reduction of SOL, this change in SOL did not correlate with the change in ADHD symptoms and the reduction in SOL only happened in the last half of treatment, suggesting this is an effect of symptom improvement not specifically related to TBR neurofeedback. SMR neurofeedback specifically reduced the SOL and PSQI score, and the change in SOL and change in PSQI correlated strongly with the change in inattention, and the reduction in SOL was achieved in the first half of treatment, suggesting the reduction in SOL mediated treatment response to SMR neurofeedback. Clinically, TBR and SMR neurofeedback had similar effects on symptom reduction in ADHD (inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity). These results suggest differential effects and different working mechanisms for TBR and SMR neurofeedback in the treatment of ADHD.

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Pharmaco-EEG: A Study of Individualized Medicine in Clinical Practice

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Ronald J. Swatzyna, Gerald P. Kozlowski, and Jay D. Tarnow

Abstract

Pharmaco-electroencephalography (Pharmaco-EEG) studies using clinical EEG and quantitative EEG (qEEG) technologies have existed for more than 4 decades. This is a promising area that could improve psychotropic intervention using neurological data. One of the objectives in our clinical practice has been to collect EEG and quantitative EEG (qEEG) data. In the past 5 years, we have identified a subset of refractory cases (n = 386) found to contain commonalities of a small number of electrophysiological features in the following diagnostic categories: mood, anxiety, autistic spectrum, and attention deficit disorders, Four abnormalities were noted in the majority of medication failure cases and these abnormalities did not appear to significantly align with their diagnoses. Those were the following: encephalopathy, focal slowing, beta spindles, and transient discharges. To analyze the relationship noted, they were tested for association with the assigned diagnoses. Fisher’s exact test and binary logistics regression found very little (6%) association between particular EEG/qEEG abnormalities and diagnoses. Findings from studies of this type suggest that EEG/qEEG provides individualized understanding of pharmacotherapy failures and has the potential to improve medication selection.

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Prof. Juri D. Kropotov Interview 2013

Juri speaks about the recent ERP meeting in St Petersburg Russia, held during the summer’s “white nights” when the night sky does not darken fully and the night is very short. Juri is interviewed in his offices, only 200 meters from Pavlov’s famous laboratory.

The discussion of the new methodology of ICA decomposition of the ERP, as well as the benefit of ERP added to the EEG/qEEG is discussed. There is discussion of the diagnostic specificity of the ERP methods, and the concept of biomarkers.

Technology Helps Explain Medication Failure

In almost every area of medicine, doctors can order tests to provide objective physical data to guide their medication selection. However, the practice of psychiatry is most often based on observation, self-report and psychological testing. It appears that we are better at measuring impairment than we are at identifying the source and prescribing an effective medication. Is there a way we can do better?

The director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Tomas Insel, suggests there are many medicines, but they are not working adequately. This is because the symptoms of mental illness are too illusive and are shared by many diagnoses. Insel (2012) says, “It’s much harder to fix something if you don’t know what is going wrong.” Medications are being prescribed to treat a set of symptoms suggestive of a specific disorder without any objective evidence of the cause. Additionally, the practice of polypharmacy has become way too common in children and adolescents.

Pharmaceutical industry advertising promotes adding a medication when the first medication fails to produce the desired results (i.e., adding Abilify to your antidepressant). The message is that when one medication fails, keep adding more in an effort to address the additional symptoms. Each additional medication increases the risk of side effects. It is not uncommon for children to come to us with several medications prescribed. Last month, for example, we saw a 9-year-old female with prescriptions for Olanzapine three times a day, Lithium Carbonate daily and Amphetamine Salts three times a day. Also, a 10-year-old male came to us on Focolin three times a day, Seroquel twice a day, Lexipro daily and Zyprexa daily. If there was a way to determine why a medication failed, would it not be prudent to investigate why? If current technology could help?

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Electroencephalography (EEG) Underused Investigative Tool in Hospitals, Study Finds

A retrospective study of patients who had in-hospital electroencephalography (EEG) has established that EEG is a valuable tool that could be deployed more widely to identify treatable causes of impaired consciousness in the hospital setting.

The study is published in the April issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Altered mental status (AMS) and paroxysmal spells of uncertain origin are common among hospitalized patients. Impaired consciousness can sometimes be linked to metabolic or cardiac causes, but some of these spells may represent seizures or non-convulsive epilepsy, which can be detected only by electroencephalography (EEG). Although EEG is the key test in making these diagnoses, it is relatively underused in the inpatient setting owing to lack of availability and neurologic consultation at many hospitals in the United States.

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Move up to modern de-artifacting

There is an on-going dispute regarding de-artifacting methods used in qEEG.  Though there are vested interests counseling against the use of modern techniques to remove artifact while leaving the underlying EEG intact, there are also those who have specialized in the area that can provide a detailed reply to the vested interests.  Just such a reply was posted recently in a commercial list server, and we got the author’s permission to re-post the discussion on the qEEGSupport.com website in a non-commercial publicly accessible form for all to see.

It specifically points to the fact that the phase changes seen are due to removal of artifact, not the distortion of the underlying EEG, which has residual subtle artifacts remaining if processed with classical approaches.

If you cut time segments out of the EEG to remove artifacts, you also remove the underlying connectivity information, splicing discontinuous microstates together destroys the underlying time series.

In the give and take of the real world of neuroscience, the need to provide a valid time-series showing the connectivity of the neural networks, yet free of artifact, is driving the need to switch to more modern techniques than snipping out segments of time.  If you want to distort the timeline of the EEG (phase) just cut and paste lots of EEG together in one second chunks.

The neuroscience community will undoubtedly continue to discuss these issues, but the need for clean valid EEG is driving the field to these newer techniques, and they are performing well under the scrutiny.

Jay Gunkelman

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House Again Passes Thompson’s Bipartisan Amendment to Improve TBI, PTSD Treatment For Troops & Veterans

Washington, DC, Jul 18 – Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1), co-chair of the bipartisan Military Veterans Caucus, today again secured the passage of his bipartisan amendment with Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-32) to expedite new and innovative treatments to our nations’ veterans and active duty soldiers suffering from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is the second time the House has passed the amendment. In May, the TBI treatment expansion initiative was adopted as a House amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310), however the Senate has yet to take up this bill. Today it was passed as an amendment to H.R. 5856, the Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The amendment passed by voice vote. The House will vote on H.R. 5856 later this week.

“Our troops and veterans have earned the very best treatment and care that we can provide,” said Thompson. “But sometimes the best treatments aren’t available at military and veteran medical facilities. My amendment will make sure that our heroes who return from combat with TBI or PTSD have access to the highest quality care our nation has to offer. I will keep introducing this legislation until it is law. It’s what our heroes have earned.”

“I am pleased that our colleagues have joined us in recognizing the importance of providing treatment options not currently available within military and veteran medical facilities to those who return from combat with TBI or PTSD,” said Sessions. “As we approach the Memorial Day holiday, I believe we can best honor our nation’s active duty soldiers and veterans by ensuring that their health is a top priority and that they have access to the most effective treatments available.”

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