Brain training may treat some neurological disorders

November 26th, 2013
People with alcohol addiction, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress may be able to help treat their condition by retraining the way their brains work.

A team of scientists, led by Cardiff University, is embarking on a major four-year study to test whether a technique known as Neurofeedback is an effective additional form of treatment for people suffering with mental and behavioural disorders including: autism, alcohol addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders.

Previous studies have already suggested that this technique might help people with depression and Parkinson's disease improve their symptoms.

"Self-regulation of brain activity in humans based on real-time feedback of brain imaging signals is emerging as a powerful new technique," according to Professor David Linden, School of Psychology, who will co-ordinate the €5.9M European Commission funded BRAINTRAIN consortium alongside neuroscientists, physicists, psychiatrists and computer scientists from the Netherlands, France, Portugal, Germany, Israel and the UK.

"Using an MRI scanner, Neurofeedback allows scientists to monitor brain activity of patents in real-time. The activity levels are then fed back to the patient in the form of a simple display on a screen.

"Using the feedback, it allows patients to see and alter activity in specific parts of their brain. Previous studies have already suggested that this technique might help people with depression and Parkinson's disease improve their symptoms."

The project will bring together teams from academia and industry and explore the feasibility in a number of mental and behavioural disorders - specifically characterised by dysfunctional brain systems for motivation, emotion regulation and social communication.

Professor Linden adds: "By bringing together some of the world's best scientists in the field we will explore and refine real-time functional neuroimaging and find out whether they can be used to train patients to regulate their own brain activity.

"We want to establish whether it can help restore function, improve symptoms and promote resilience.

"Ultimately we hope to establish whether this new technique could become a part of comprehensive treatment programmes for these conditions."

Much of the research will be undertaken at Cardiff University's Brain Imaging Research Centre (CUBRIC) using MRI scanners. The Cardiff team is already evaluating the effects of the technique on depression and Parkinson's disease.

Provided by Cardiff University

This Phys.org Science News Wire page contains a press release issued by an organization mentioned above and is provided to you “as is” with little or no review from Phys.Org staff.

More news stories

Did a rogue star change the makeup of our solar system?

A team of researchers from the Max-Planck Institute and Queen's University has used new information to test a theory that suggests a rogue star passed close enough to our solar system millions of years ago to change its configuration. ...

Unusual sound waves discovered in quantum liquids

Ordinary sound waves—small oscillations of density—can propagate through all fluids, causing the molecules in the fluid to compress at regular intervals. Now physicists have theoretically shown that in one-dimensional ...

Where to search for signs of life on Titan

New findings, published in the journal Astrobiology, suggest that large craters are the prime locations in which to find the building blocks of life on Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

Sahara dust may make you cough, but it's a storm killer

The bad news: Dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa—totaling a staggering 2 to 9 trillion pounds worldwide—has been almost a biblical plague on Texas and much of the Southern United States in recent weeks. The good news: ...

Human influence detected in changing seasons

For the first time, scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and five other organizations have shown that human influences significantly impact the size of the seasonal cycle of temperature in the lowest ...

Wearable device measures cortisol in sweat

The hormone cortisol rises and falls naturally throughout the day and can spike in response to stress, but current methods for measuring cortisol levels require waiting several days for results from a lab. By the time a person ...