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Difficulties encountered which could be enhanced
There are several similarities between obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa. For both of these issues, there are obsessive thoughts and / or compulsive behaviors, but anxiety is also often present.
After analyzing over 87,000 SPECT Scans, the renowned American psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen explains in his trainings, the brain profiles often associated with OCD, as well as with eating disorder. First, prefrontal lobes play an important role in judgment. Normally, they are supposed to be able to influence the process of reasoning so that the person realizes that their behavior is inappropriate. For example, if a person plays poker at the casino and bets a disproportionate amount, the prefrontal lobes should be able to suggest to the individual not to take that risk.
A second brain region that plays a role in OCD and eating disorders is the cingulate gyrus. This region plays a role in mental flexibility. Dr. Amen presents in his studies that a hyperactive cingulate gyrus brings mental rigidity. In such cases, when a person has a fixation on something, it will be difficult for them to “get out” of that thought, be it food, thought, or behavior.
Finally, as there is often anxiety in individuals with these problems, when we perform the quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG), the neuropsychologist will pay particular attention to the amygdala and other areas involved in anxiety. If he notices significant deviations in the activity of these regions (often hyperactivity), we will then want to train them, using with Neurofeedback. You can go to the page on anxiety for more information.
In cases of OCD or eating disorders, we will often want to train the prefrontal lobes, the cingulate gyrus as well as the anxiety network (which includes the amygdala). Studies have shown that training in Neurofeedback can bring significant improvements in these behaviors.
- Decreased in unwanted behaviors
- Better mental flexibility
- Improved judgement capacity
- Decreased anxiety
- Feeling of well-being accented
In the case of OCD, a 2003 study by Hammond1 shows that Neurofeedback training resulted in an 89% reduction in OCD symptoms according to a recognized measure from Padua Inventory. A follow-up that was carried out 12 months after the training shows that the improvements have been maintained and that the behaviors have not returned.
For eating disorders, a scientific article published in 2018 in the journal Nutrient2 reviews the studies conducted to date. In this one, we mention that, according to two controlled studies, the persons having carried out 10 sessions of Neurofeedback showed a decrease in the number of episodes of distress and overconsumption of food. In addition, a follow-up conducted three months after the end of training showed that the improvements were still maintained.
The article also describes 4 other studies that have demonstrated a decrease in undesirable behavior related to eating disorders as well as an improvement in health, following training in Neurofeedback.
1. Hammond, D. C. (2003). QEEG-guided Neurofeedback in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. Journal of Neurotherapy, 7(2), 25-52.
2. Feedback-Based Treatments for Eating Disorders and Related Symptoms: A Systematic Review of the Literature