The EEG is a way to measure the electrical activity in your brain. Your brain communicates with itself through electricity. Every thought you think, every emotion you feel, and every sensation you have is due to the electrical firing of neurons. The EEG or electroencephalograph shows this activity instantaneously, within a few thousandths of a second after it occurs in the brain. Although EEG’s are used medically by neurologists to evaluate neurological disorders like epilepsy, they are increasingly being used in behavioral and mental health fields.
The EEG shows us the activity as well as the coordination of activity of the cortex – the outermost layer of the brain. This part of the brain is responsible for higher functions like thinking, making decisions, and planning behaviors. The EEG can show areas of the brain where there is either too little or too much activity. It can also reveal whether areas of the brain are coordinating their activity properly. By studying the EEG in 19 areas of your brain, we are frequently able to see the reason for your struggles. And once we can see it, we can target it for change with neurofeedback.
qEEG: Quantitative analysis of the EEG
Your brain is incredibly complex. Just looking at the EEG is not enough to get to the bottom of it. We can “see” your brain much more clearly when we use sophisticated computerized analysis tools to study your brain’s electrical activity. This process is called quantitative EEG or qEEG. Complicated mathematical and statistical analysis of EEG activity is now a primary tool in neuroscience. It is used in computational neuroscience research centers all over the world to study ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, depression and bipolar disorder, PTSD and other anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, and memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.
During a qEEG, we record your brain’s electrical activity at 19 sites on your head. These EEG tracings are then converted to numbers and compared to the EEG of individuals with no known brain-based difficulties. This allows you to see patterns of brain dysfunction that may be related to your difficulties in life: you can see the basis in your brain for your problems. Then we target that area of the brain for change with neurofeedback.
Hundreds of studies have been done investigating EEG activity and many important areas of our daily life functioning, including our attention, mood, anxiety, social functioning, and learning and thinking skills. EEG can be used to identify the basis in the brain for attention deficits. Distinct EEG patterns have been identified for depression, and for positive response to anti-depressant medication. Quantitative analysis of EEG activity has revealed the brain basis for processing problems in autism spectrum disorder. Early studies have shown reduced complexity in the brain activity of infants at higher risk for autism as early as nine months of age. In sum, the EEG can give us very important information about the brain.