What is a QEEG/Brain Map?
The brain map is generated from a diagnostic procedure called the quantitative electroencephalograph, or QEEG. This tool provides essential information about how the brain is performing. Each region of the brain is associated with different functions. These regions need to be operating efficiently and to be communicating properly with each other. The QEEG enables us to see the brain regions in terms of their electrical power (voltages) which are intimately associated with their activity level, and their connectivity (degree of linked information) with each other. Regions characterized by excessive amounts of power do not perform optimally. Nor do regions that are either overly or inadequately connected to other regions. Both problems will diminish the brain’s ability to process information and direct its resources efficiently. The QEEG measures these values and relationships in the brain and then compares them to 3 databases built from thousands of other people’s QEEGs, allowing us to evaluate an individual’s brain relative to those of his/her peers of the same age, and to create a series of maps based on these comparisons.
Once the brain map is completed, neurofeedback can be tailored specifically to address the issues the map describes.
How is the QEEG done?
The actual procedure involves making a recording of the brain’s surface electrical activity as measured from the scalp. The entire process takes less than an hour. A special spandex cap is worn on the head; the cap is embedded with 19 active recording leads. Gel is applied at each of the lead sites to create a conductive bridge between them and the scalp. A cable connects the cap to the processing computer via an adaptor. The process of preparing the cap and the leads takes 20 – 25 minutes. Once this preparation is completed, the recording can begin. Recordings are done in both “eyes closed” and “eyes opened” conditions, each for about 10 minutes. The electrical activity on the brain’s surface passes through the skull naturally and is recorded from the scalp. The strength of the signals is weakened after passing through the skull, muscle and skin. The computer uses an amplifier to detect and fully characterize each of the signals before they are subjected to the analysis that produces the brain map.
There is no pain involved with a QEEG; it is an entirely non-invasive procedure. A good recording only requires the individual to be relatively still for several minutes at a time.
While effective neurofeedback can certainly be done without a QEEG, the precision of training following a QEEG increases the success rate and decreases the number of sessions required to achieve an optimal result. A new QEEG is recorded after each round of approximately 10 neurofeedback sessions, to compare the results of the latest QEEG with the prior one—adding a numerically measurable way to the clinical results reported—and to assess the training just completed and plan for the next round. Dr. Mitnick takes feedback from the patient and family and consults with neuropsychologist Dr. Robert Coben, a clinician and researcher with special expertise interpreting QEEG data and psychological functioning, to plan the subsequent round of training.