QEEG-Guided Neurofeedback for Recurrent Migraine Headaches

Walker, J. E. “QEEG-Guided Neurofeedback for Recurrent Migraine Headaches.” Clinical EEG and Neuroscience 42.1 (2011): 59-61. Web.

Currently, 28 million Americans suffer from migraines. This population is composed of 18% women and 6% men. Migraines greatly affect patients, as they interfere with productivity and greatly diminish the quality of life. A small 29% of migraine patients report satisfaction with their acute treatment. This research aimed at determining neurofeedback’s ability to normalize irregularities that commonly arise in the Quantitative EEG (QEEG) results of migraine sufferers.

This study utilized 71 patients with recurrent migraines between the ages of 17 and 62. QEEG results of these patients presented an excess of high-frequency beta activity in 1-4 cortical regions of the brain—mainly the parietal, central, and frontal regions. Beta waves are often associated with an active brain. The researchers split the subjects into two groups. One group continued with drug therapy for their migraines, while the other group chose neurofeedback training as the form of migraine therapy.

Of the neurofeedback patients, 54% declared a complete termination in migraine headaches. Another 39% of subjects experienced a reduction in the frequency of migraine episodes of more than 50%. Four percent of subjects had less than a 50% decrease in frequency of migraines. Only one patient did not have a reduction in migraine frequency. Therefore, 98% of patients had either cessation or reduction in the number of migraines experienced following QEEG-guided neurofeedback.

On the other hand, the control group that utilized drug therapy to treat migraines experienced absolutely no alteration in headache frequency in 68% of the patients. Only 8% of the patients in the drug-therapy group experienced >50% decrease in migraine frequency, and 20% experienced a decrease in frequency of <50%.

Overall, drug therapy was rarely able to eliminate migraine headaches, while QEEG-guided neurofeedback was proven to dramatically decrease migraines in the majority of the subjects in the study.


Passive Infrared Hemoencephalography (pIR HEG) for the Treatment of Migraine Without Aura

Alison K. Walker and Randall R. Lyle.

Migraines are a common, chronic condition that currently has no cure. Most treatments seek only to minimize the frequency or the intensity of the attacks. Hemoencephalography (HEG) is a neurofeedback technique which trains the brain to increase cerebral blood flow. This study examined HEG’s effects on 31 migraine patients. The patients underwent HEG treatment for ten weeks. The researchers used two questionnaires to determine the severity of their migraine symptoms, and these were filled out before, at six weeks, and at the conclusion of the study. There was a statistically significant reduction in migraine severity when comparing the pre-treatment and post-treatment groups, but the frequency of the migraines did not have a statistically significant decline. Due to the fact that no treatment has been able to fully eliminate migraine symptoms, these results are encouraging. HEG should be considered as a migraine treatment. However, further research should be done due to the lack of control group and no long term follow-up.