Mapping the Brain
By Dr. Gail Sanders Durgin Ph.D.
The brain has fascinated people for many years. Doctors and philosophers have developed theories about the brain and how our consciousness interacts with this vital organ. Our knowledge about the brain has expended enormously in the past decade since the discovery of less invasive methods of viewing the brain while it is functioning. PET and Spect scans can detect the activation of the brain during different tasks and emotions but does require that a radioactive substance be ingested in order for the activity be made visible to the scanning equipment. Another type of brain analysis can detect the activity of the outer layer of the brain or the cortex by placing sensors on the scalp to record the electrical activity. This analysis is called a QEEG or Quantitative electroencephalography.
This technique looks at the activity of the brain while in various states as eyes closed, eyes open, reading and math computation. In the eyes closed state, the dominant frequency of that particular person can be determined. The dominant frequency is the primary frequency that the person's brain uses to communicate with itself over different regions of the brain. By comparing the brain activity of the person to a normative database using computer technology, patterns of over-activity and under-activity can be determined. Specific patterns of brain activity have been associated with disorders as ADD and ADHD, depression, seizures, closed head injury and others. If the dominant frequency is not suppressed in more engaged states as reading and math, learning disabilities can be detected. Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of Driven to Distraction, now regularly uses QEEG to validate ADD diagnosis.
The information that is learned from the QEEG can be used to develop training for a number of disorders using Neurofeedback or EEG biofeedback. Neurofeedback uses sensors on the head, computer technology and behavior modification to reward the brain for learning to increase or decrease specific frequency bands. Over time, the parts of the brain that are under-active, as often seen in ADD, can be taught to function at a higher frequency. As the brain function gradually improves, the ADD symptoms can start to diminish. When people have symptoms due to an electrical disruption of the activity between various parts of the brain, neurofeedback can help the brain re-establish the neural pathways, restore electrical connections, and reduce symptoms. Depression is usually seen in the front of the brain, behind the forehead and at the hairline, particularly on the left side. Neurofeedback can assist in balancing the dominant frequency between the left and right sides and decrease depression symptoms.
QEEG can be a useful tool in determining the normal and abnormal electrical functioning of the brain. Used with Neurofeedback, and other forms of biofeedback, people can learn to change how their brain functions and can learn to control their symptoms.
Published in Natural Triad August 2005.