Memory difficulties and cognitive decline are common side-effects of aging, brain injury, chronic stress, and substance abuse. However, just because they’re common, doesn’t mean they’re not preventable and reversible. Outside of memory problems, cognitive decline often includes issues with language, thinking, judgment, and reaction times. More severe cases can be accompanied by delusions, time lapses, personality changes, and mood disturbances. These symptoms are likely related to changes observed in the brains of aging individuals and folks with other clinical conditions.
Getting to the roots
As we age, our brain’s overall power is reduced and the brain’s idle speed slows down. In other words, we see an increase in slower brainwaves like delta and theta and a decrease in faster waves like alpha and beta. Reduced amplitude and coherence of faster brainwaves can lead to damage of important cortical links, making many tasks more difficult.
The brain regions and processes related to memory are especially affected by aging and other conditions. The two main kinds of memory are short-term and long-term. Short-term memory is responsible for temporarily storing information and determining if it is necessary to hang onto for the future. If the information is important enough, it is consolidated into our long-term memory, which is the brain’s main system for storing and retrieving information.
As we age, the amount of time our short-term memory can store information becomes shorter and shorter. We also then struggle to move information to long-term memory, meaning it becomes more and more difficult to remember things. Explicit memories, like facts and events, are most affected by aging and related conditions. EEGs of individuals with memory issues and cognitive decline show brainwave alterations in specific brain regions, such as the prefrontal cortex, temporal lobes, and the hippocampus.
How we can help
At NeuroGrove, the first step of any treatment package is a comprehensive assessment that includes QEEG brain mapping, LORETA 3D neuroimaging, various testing, and a thorough discussion of symptoms and goals. This allows us to assess for the brain patterns most commonly associated with memory loss and cognitive decline.
Biofeedback and mindfulness training can help you to gain more control over your autonomic nervous system, allowing you to improve your focus on the here-and-now and modulate physiological responses like breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and muscle tension. Through movement therapy, we teach you how to connect with your body, stimulate brain regions, and build self-awareness and self-empowerment. Functional medicine testing and nutritional coaching help address some common factors related to cognitive decline and aging like diet, hormonal balance, inflammation, etc. Whichever services you choose to engage with, we will work collaboratively with you to address your brain-body wellness from an integrative lens so you can be the best version of you!
What the research says
Dozens of participants aged 60 years and older were split into two groups, both of which completed neuropsychological testing. Half of the participants were treated using neurofeedback training with a motor imagery-based brain-computer interface while the other half did not do NFT. Significant changes were observed in the EEGs of the participants who did neurofeedback training. These participants also exhibited statistically significant improvements in the following cognitive functions: visuospatial, oral language, memory, and intellectual. These results suggest neurotherapy could be an effective tool for helping individual manage age-related cognitive decline.
In a review of 250 cases of individuals treated using LORETA Z-Score neurofeedback, patterns related to cognitive decline and dementia were identified. 71% of patients with static cognitive dysfunction demonstrated significant improvement on cognitive testing and improvement of QEEG abnormalities after doing neurofeedback training. These results indicate LORETA Z-Score NFT could be a powerful tool for enhancing cognitive performance.
More more research studies on this topic, see our Research page.
Gomez-Pilar J, Corralejo R, Nicolas-Alonso LF, Álvarez D, Hornero R. (2016). Neurofeedback training with a motor imagery-based BCI: neurocognitive improvements and EEG changes in the elderly. Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing, 54(11):1655-1666.
Koberda, J. L. (2014). Z-score LORETA neurofeedback as a potential therapy in cognitive dysfunction and dementia. Journal of Psychology & Clinical Psychiatry, 1(6).