Alvarez, J., Meyer, F. L., Granoff, D. L., & Lundy, A. (2013). The effect of EEG biofeedback on reducing postcancer cognitive impairment. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 12, 475–487.doi: 10.1177/1534735413477192
To determine the feasibility of using electroencephalography (EEG) biofeedback (neurofeedback) and identify its potential effects on cognitive impairment, sleep quality, fatigue, and psychological symptoms.
Neurofeedback was provided using an EEG system that detects and alerts the brain of phase changes to increase brain flexibility and resilience. Single EEG sensors, placed at the left C3 and right C4 for each brain hemisphere, analyze EEG activity for identification of phase state changes in the brain. During the session, the patient listened to music while sitting quietly; brief interruptions of the music signal alerted the patient that the software detected phase changes and was providing the brain feedback. No patient response or action was required because it is believed that the brain uses the feedback for its own self-organization without conscious action. Patients had twice weekly sessions for 10 weeks. Assessments were performed prior to beginning the sessions and during the fourth, seventh, and tenth week of sessions.
The study was conducted at a single outpatient site in Ohio.
The study has clinical applicability for late effects and survivorship.
The study used a feasibility quasiexperimental design.
Significant symptom presence and dysfunction were reported by this sample at baseline, as compared to normative data. Baseline comparisons to normative sample showed significant differences from the norms in all measures, indicating significant dysfunction. FACT, FACIT, and PSQI scores improved over time, although not at a constant rate over longitudinal time points. At study conclusion, symptom report of dysfunction no longer differed significantly from normative populations on three of four FACT-C subscales, FACIT, and PSQI. The proportion of patients using sleep medications declined from 39% to 17% by study conclusion. No adverse effects of the intervention were identified.
EEG neurofeedback was shown to be feasible and potentially beneficial for improving cognitive function, sleep, and fatigue in breast cancer survivors.
This study reported a potentially promising intervention that may have a positive effect on several symptoms experienced by breast cancer survivors. Additional well-designed clinical trials are needed to assess the efficacy of this approach.