Prior to doing neurofeedback training, clients are asked questions about their symptom history, are given psychological tests and brainwave patterns will be examined. Brainwave patterns are examined with either the Clinical Q by placing electrodes on the scalp and measuring brainwave patterns in five locations or with more comprehensive testing called a quantitative electroencephalogram (QEEG) or brain map where 19 or more electrodes are placed on the scalp.
A QEEG is an assessment tool to objectively and scientifically evaluate a person’s brainwave function. The procedure may take about 1½ hours. It generally consists of placing a snug cap on the head which contains small electrodes to measure the electrical patterns coming from the brain. This is done while the patient is resting quietly with his or her eyes closed, and sometimes also with eyes open or during a task such as reading. Afterwards, we then go through a tedious and lengthy procedure to remove any artifacts that occurred when the eyes moved or blinked, when patients moved slightly in the chair, or tightened their jaw or forehead a little bit. The brainwave data we gathered is then compared to a sophisticated normative database of how the brain should be functioning at the same age. Over a thousand statistical analyses are then performed. This assessment procedure allows us to then determine in a highly scientific, objective manner whether and how a patient’s brainwave patterns are significantly different from normal.
The American Medical EEG Association Ad Hoc Committee on QEEG has stated that QEEG “is of clinical value now and development suggests it will be of even greater use in the future.” QEEG has scientifically documented ability to aid in the evaluation of conditions such as mild traumatic brain injury, ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and panic disorder, and a variety of other conditions (including autism, schizophrenia, stroke, epilepsy, and dementia). QEEG has even been able to predict outcomes from treating conditions such as ADD/ADHD, alcoholism, and drug abuse. The American Psychological Association has also endorsed QEEG as being within the scope of practice of psychologists who are appropriately trained, and ISNR has similarly endorsed its use by legitimate health care professionals who are appropriately trained. At the Mind Shift Clinic, we are currently using the Clinical Q and expect to expand to the QEEG in 2015.
The Clinical Q and QEEG evaluations assist us in knowing if there are abnormalities in brain function that EEG neurofeedback might be helpful in training, and it allows us to know how we can individualize neurofeedback to the unique problems of each patient. For example, scientific research has identified a minimum of three major subtypes of ADD/ADHD, none of which can be diagnosed from observing the person’s behavior, and each of which requires a different treatment protocol. (content in part from D.C. Hammond, 2004)