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Summary of Neurofeedback Effect on Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Updated: Jan 18


European migrants


Open-Access Article on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


Choi, Y. J., Choi, E. J., & Ko, E. (2023). Neurofeedback effect on symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 48(3), 259–274. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10484-023-09593-3

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What is the science?


Individuals experiencing multiple forms of trauma, such as childhood abuse, forced migration due to war, persecution, or natural disasters, exhibit reduced responsiveness to conventional treatment approaches, largely attributed to unstable limbic system regulation.



What is the takeaway?


Neurofeedback yielded superior results in treating patients with complex-trauma PTSD compared to those with single-event trauma. Longer and more frequent sessions were found to be more efficacious than shorter, less frequent ones. The treatment also significantly improved arousal, anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, numbing, and suicidal ideation. Consequently, neurofeedback holds considerable promise as an effective intervention for complex PTSD.



How did they do it?

In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers examined randomized and non-randomized controlled trials from 1990 to July 2020 to assess the efficacy of neurofeedback treatments in individuals with PTSD and associated symptoms. Using random-effects models to calculate treatment effect sizes, they computed the standardized mean difference (SMD). Their review included 10 studies, encompassing a total of 276 participants.



What did they find?

1. Neurofeedback serves as an effective treatment modality in alleviating psychological symptoms of PTSD.

2. Treatments involving 20 sessions or more were more efficacious than the average intervention.

3. Sessions lasting 20 minutes or longer demonstrated more significant effects than average treatment durations.

4. The efficacy of the intervention varied by the specific neurofeedback type, with Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback showing the largest effect size.



What is the impact?


Neurofeedback therapy successfully mitigates psychological symptoms associated with PTSD, specifically reducing anxiety, depression, arousal, avoidance, and intrusive, numbing, and suicidal ideation. However, the treatment's effect size was insignificant for re-experiencing PTSD events, affect regulation, and subjective control. Neurofeedback is efficacious for veterans, refugees, and individuals with treatment-resistant complex PTSD but not for those suffering from single-event PTSD.



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