Noninvasive brainwave technology improved post-traumatic stress symptoms in military

December 27, 2017, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
PTSD
Regions of the brain associated with stress and posttraumatic stress disorder. Credit: National Institutes of Health

A noninvasive brainwave mirroring technology significantly reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress in military personnel in a pilot study conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The study is published in the Dec. 22 online edition of the journal Military Medical Research.

"Ongoing symptoms of post-traumatic stress, whether clinically diagnosed or not, are a pervasive problem in the military," said the study's principal investigator, Charles H. Tegeler, M.D., professor of neurology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, a part of Wake Forest Baptist.

"Medications are often used to help control specific symptoms, but can produce side effects. Other treatments may not be well tolerated, and few show a benefit for the associated sleep disturbance. Additional noninvasive, non-drug therapies are needed."

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 31 percent of Vietnam veterans, 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans and 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan experience PTSD. Symptoms can include insomnia, poor concentration, sadness, re-experiencing , irritability or hyper-alertness, as well as diminished autonomic cardiovascular regulation.

The neurotechnology used in this study - High-resolution, relational, resonance-based, electroencephalic mirroring (HIRREM) - is a noninvasive, closed-loop, acoustic stimulation approach, in which computer software algorithms translate specific brain frequencies into audible tones in real time.

Figuratively speaking, this provides a chance for the brain to listen to itself through an acoustic mirror, Tegeler said. Likely through resonance between brain frequencies and the acoustic stimulation, the brain is supported to make self-adjustments towards improved balance and reduced hyperarousal, with no conscious, cognitive activity required. The net effect is to support the brain to reset stress response patterns that have been rewired by repetitive traumatic events, physical or nonphysical.

HIRREM is a registered trademark of Brain State Technologies based in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has been licensed to Wake Forest Baptist for collaborative research since 2011.

In this single-site study, 18 service members or recent veterans, who experienced symptoms over one to 25 years, received an average of 19½ HIRREM sessions over 12 days. Symptom data were collected before and after the study sessions, and follow-up online interviews were conducted at one-, three- and six-month intervals. In addition, heart rate and blood pressure readings were recorded after the first and second visits to analyze downstream autonomic balance with heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity.

"We observed reductions in post-traumatic symptoms, including insomnia, depressive mood and anxiety that were durable through six months after the use of HIRREM, but additional research is needed to confirm these initial findings," he said.

"This study is also the first to report improvement in and baroreflex sensitivity - physiological responses to stress - after the use of an intervention for service members or veterans with ongoing symptoms of post-traumatic stress."

Limitations of the study include the small number of participants and the absence of a control group. It also was an open-label project, meaning that both researchers and participants knew what treatment was being administered.

Explore further: Post-traumatic stress symptoms reduced after use of HIRREM closed-loop neurotechnology

Related Stories

Post-traumatic stress symptoms reduced after use of HIRREM closed-loop neurotechnology

April 19, 2017
For a series of individuals with post-traumatic stress symptoms, use of HIRREM;, an algorithm-guided neurotechnology, was associated with significant clinical improvements. Study findings were published April 19th online ...

A 'brainwave' to help fight PTSD

April 19, 2017
(HealthDay)—Technology using a patient's own brainwaves might offer hope against tough-to-treat PTSD, new research suggests.

Reduction in menopause-related symptoms associated with non-invasive neurotechnology

February 11, 2015
Nearly nine out of 10 premenopausal and postmenopausal women in the United States experience hot flashes, night sweats or other disturbances in mood and sleep. Unfortunately, there aren't many safe and effective therapies ...

Sound therapy may balance brain signals to reduce blood pressure, migraines

September 16, 2016
A noninvasive neurotechnology, which uses sound to balance right- and left-side brain frequencies was associated with lowered blood pressure, improved heart rate variability, and reduced symptoms of migraine headaches, according ...

Music to the ears for a good night's sleep? New therapy for insomnia

November 20, 2012
If you are among the 50 percent of Americans who suffer from insomnia, then you have probably tried everything – from warm milk to melatonin pills or prescription medications to induce sleep – with varying degrees of ...

Wake Forest Baptist conducts clinical study for insomnia using new technology

June 30, 2011
Insomnia is the most prevalent sleep disorder, affecting up to 50 percent of the adult population in the United States on a weekly basis.

Recommended for you

Color of judo uniform has no effect on winning

February 22, 2018
New research on competitive judo data finds a winning bias for the athlete who is first called, regardless of the colour of their uniform. This unique study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, puts to rest the debate on ...

Infants are able to learn abstract rules visually

February 22, 2018
Three-month-old babies cannot sit up or roll over, yet they are already capable of learning patterns from simply looking at the world around them, according to a recent Northwestern University study published in PLOS One.

Antidepressants are more effective than placebo at treating acute depression in adults, concludes study

February 22, 2018
Meta-analysis of 522 trials includes the largest amount of unpublished data to date, and finds that antidepressants are more effective than placebo for short-term treatment of acute depression in adults.

How people cope with difficult life events fuels development of wisdom, study finds

February 21, 2018
How a person responds to a difficult life event such as a death or divorce helps shape the development of their wisdom over time, a new study from Oregon State University suggests.

Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all

February 21, 2018
Is the next generation better or worse off because of smartphones? The answer is complex and research shows it largely depends on their lives offline.

Researchers uncover novel mechanism behind schizophrenia

February 21, 2018
An international team of researchers led by a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine scientist has uncovered a novel mechanism in which a protein—neuregulin 3—controls how key neurotransmitters are released ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.