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Neurofeedback Proving to Be a Promising Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

26 Jan

Researchers from Cardiff University, Trinity College and University College London in the U.K., conducted a pilot study investigating the impact of Neurofeedback (NF) and Motor Training (MOT) on the brain networks that could improve motor and non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease patients.

This 10-week small Phase I randomized controlled trial had 30 PD patients participating. Group One (n = 15) received real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rt-fMRI) with motor training. Group Two received motor training alone. 

Outcomes were measured by the Movement Disorder Society-Unified PD Rating Scale-Motor scale, administered before and after the intervention, off medication. The secondary outcome measures were the PD Questionnaire-39, and quantitative motor assessments after four and ten weeks.

Results showed that the patients in the neurofeedback group were able to upregulate activity in the supplementary motor area (SMA) by using motor imagery. They improved by an average of 4.5 points on the MDS-UPDRS-MS in the "off-medication" state (95% confidence interval: -2.5 to -6.6), whereas the MOT group improved only by 1.9 points (95% confidence interval +3.2 to -6.8). These results are on a par with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

The investigators conclude that NF combined with MOT is safe and improves motor symptoms immediately after treatment, but larger trials are needed to explore its superiority over active control conditions.

Citation: Subramanian L, Morris MB, et al. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Neurofeedback-guided Motor Imagery Training and Motor Training for Parkinson's Disease: Randomized Trial. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2016 Jun 8;10:111. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00111. eCollection 2016

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.