In a prior article, we discussed the differences between the ordinary memory issues that come with aging and the more serious problems associated with Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI. Many studies have been conducted to see if neurofeedback can successfully improve the symptoms of MCI. Fortunately, the large majority of these studies indicate that neurofeedback is a useful therapy for adults suffering from MCI.
What is MCI?
As a reminder, patients with MCI do not suffer from the personality disorders common to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Nor are they incapable of caring for themselves. In cases of MCI, patients simply find that they experience the following problems more often than other people their own age:
- Losing things they commonly use
- Forgetting about important events
- Having a harder time remembering words they need to use
Doctors diagnose MCI by using a series of memory tests to compare a patient’s results to those of other persons in their same age group. MCI is not necessarily an indicator of future problems with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It is a sign, however, of a brain degenerating faster than it should.
Does Neurofeedback Help MCI?
An international group of researchers from Singapore, China and the United States examined the scientific literature for studies that focused on helping aged patients to improve brain function via neurofeedback. They centered on eleven studies that featured patients above the age of sixty. Nine of those studies demonstrated benefits to the brain from a regimen of neurofeedback. And three of those studies specifically looked at patients with MCI. The scientists concluded: “This demonstrates that not only can the healthy aging brain be trained successfully with NF, but a degenerating aging brain can be trained as well. Although there are many different factors that potentially change the results in these studies, it is promising to see evidence that the aging brain can still be changed and improved upon, as this provides an avenue into treating more severe diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.”
The studies that showed improvements in MCI used from twelve to twenty neurofeedback sessions. Two studies included a post-therapy examination after thirty days, and both showed that the improvements to brain function were sustained over this period. This led the researchers to state: “There is hope for older adults suffering from mild cognitive impairments, strokes, and Parkinson’s disease that neurofeedback may be a safe and effective treatment for them.”
This all leads to the question of why does neurofeedback help in cases of MCI? There are various theories, but essentially it comes back to the fact that neurofeedback trains your brain to perform like the brains of ordinary, healthy individuals. We know what brain wave activity looks like in a healthy, normally operating brain. Neurofeedback trains your brain to react to stimuli the same way other healthy brains react. These improvements can last for a significant period of time.
To discover for yourself the benefits of neurofeedback, contact the Brain Health Clinic for a free consultation.