Alpha theta brainwave training - Research

Alpha theta brainwave training and beta-endorphin levels in alcoholics. Peniston EG, Kulkosky PJ Alcohol Clin Exp Res 13 (2): 271-279 (Apr 1989)

An alpha-theta brainwave biofeedfack training program was applied as a novel treatment technique for chronic alcoholics. Following a temperature biofeedback pretraining phase, experimental subjects completed 15 30-min sessions of alpha-theta biofeedback training. Compared to a nonalcoholic control group and a traditionally treated alcoholic control group, alcoholics receiving brainwave training (BWT) showed significant increases in percentages of EEG record in alpha and theta rhythms, and increased alpha rhythm amplitudes. Alcoholics receiving BWT showed a gradual increase in alpha and theta brain rhythms across the 15 experimental sessions. These experimentally treated alcoholics showed sharp reductions in self-assessed depression (Beck's Depression Inventory) compared to the control groups. Alcoholics receiving standard medical treatment (abstinence, group psychotherapy, antidepressants) showed a significant elevation in serum beta-endorphin levels at the conclusion of the experiment. This neuropeptide is an index of stress and a stimulant of caloric (e.g., ethanol) intake. Application of brainwave treatment, a relaxation therapy, appears to counteract the increase in circulating beta-endorphin levels seen in the control group of alcoholics. 13-month follow-up data indicate sustained prevention of relapse in alcoholics that completed alpha-theta brainwave training.

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Alterations in EEG amplitude, personality factors, and brain electrical mapping after alpha theta brainwave training: a controlled case study of an alcoholic in recovery. Fahrion SL, Walters ED, Coyne L, Allen T Alcohol Clin Exp Res 16 (3): 547-552 (Jun 1992)

A controlled case study was conducted of effects of EEG alpha theta brainwave training with a recovering alcoholic patient who experienced craving and fear of relapse after 18 months of abstinence. Training consisted of six sessions of thermal biofeedback to increase central nervous system (CNS) relaxation. Effects were documented with pretreatment and post-treatment personality testing, 20-channel digitized EEG evaluations both under relaxed conditions and under stress, minute-by-minute physiologic recordings of autonomic and EEG data during each training session, blood pressure, and heart rate indications taken both during relaxation and under stress, and by clinical observation. Results replicated those of a previous controlled study with chronic alcoholic patients not abstinent prior to treatment. New findings include post-treatment indications of more relaxed CNS functioning under stress, and of reduced autonomic activation both during relaxation and under stress. Brain-mapping indications of anxiety associated with painful cold-pressor stimulation were seen only in the pretest readings; at post-test the brain map indicated pain-associated EEG activity in the contralateral somatosensory area, but no apparent anxiety-associated EEG activity. At 4 months post-treatment the patient's wife and colleagues report the patient appears to function in a more relaxed way under the impact of stress, and he reports no longer experiencing craving for alcohol. Overall, support is provided for the possibility that alpha and theta brainwave training may be a useful intervention for the abstinent alcoholic experiencing stress-related craving and fear of relapse.

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Alpha Theta brainwave Training of 19 Diné (Navaho) Alcohol Drinkers Kelley, MJ (Mar 1998)

In 1991, 16 men and 3 women chosen by nurses from among the resident population at RMCH-BHS in Gallup, New Mexico, were given two l hour sessions of alpha/theta neurofeedback (NF) training for five days a week. This regime was in addition to their "mainstream" 33 day treatment program (mean of 40 NF sessions). The Peniston protocol of temperature training and additional culture specific breathing techniques were also used. Electrode placement was at CZ, not O1, with linked ears. Unlike the Ss reported by Peniston and Kulkowsky, most of these Ss did not have deficient alpha before pretreatment. CZ was chosen for convenience, as a location more indicative of theta/alpha change and cross-overs, and to avoid chair-induced artifacts. Three years after treatment 4 Ss are in sustained full remission; 12 are in partial remission (but experiencing no problems related to drinking) and 3 remain dependent drinkers. There was a significant increase in level of functioning as defined by Axis V of the DSM-IV. Subjective and objective reports regarding the NF experience were positive.

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Alpha theta brainwave neurofeedback training: an effective treatment for male and female alcoholics with depressive symptoms. Saxby E, Peniston EG Journal of Clin Psychol 51 (5): 685-693 (Sep 1995)

EEG alpha theta brainwave synchronization in Vietnam theater veterans with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse. Peniston, E.G., Marrinan, D.A., Deming, W.A., & Kulkosky, P.J. (1993). Advances in Medical Psychotherapy, 6, 37-50.

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