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A New Neurofeedback Protocol for Depression

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 January 2013

Álvaro Machado Dias*
Universidade Federal de São Paulo (Brazil)
Adrian van Deusen
ITALLIS Communication Llc (USA)
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Álvaro Machado Dias. Laboratory of Psychiatric Neuroimaging (LIM-21). Department and Institute of Psychiatry. University of São Paulo. Av. Prof. Mello Moraes, 1721. CEP 05508-030 Butantan. São Paulo. (Brazil). E-mail:


Context: Neurofeedback represents an exciting complementary option in the treatment of depression that builds upon a huge body of research on electroencephalographic correlates of depression. Objective: The objectives of this article are threefold: review the literature on neurofeedback protocols for depression; introduce a new protocol, which aims to synthesize the best qualities of the currently available protocols; and present the results of a small clinical experiment with the new protocol. Method: Structured survey of the literature; software development; clinical trial with one subject, submitted to ten sessions of neurofeedback (one hour each). Results: Currently there are twenty-one articles in neurofeedback for depression, among which only six present original experimental results. All of them report positive results with the technique. The most used protocols focus on Alpha inter-hemispheric asymmetry, and Theta/Beta ratio within the left prefrontal cortex. Our new protocol integrates both dimensions in a single circuit, adding to it a third programming line, which divides Beta frequencies and reinforces the decrease of Beta-3, in order to reduce anxiety. The favorable outcome of our clinical experiment, suggests that new research with this protocol is worthwhile.

Contexto: El neurofeedback representa una excitante opción complementaria para el tratamiento de la depresión que se basa en un enorme cuerpo de investigación sobre los correlatos electroencefalográficos de la depresión. Objetivo: Los objetivos de este artículo son varios: revisar la literatura sobre los protocolos de neurofeedback para depresión; introducir un nuevo protocolo que pretende sintetizar las mejores cualidades de los protocolos actualmente disponibles; y presentar los resultados de un pequeño experimento clínico con el nuevo protocolo. Método: Inspección estructurada de la literatura; desarrollo de software; ensayo clínico con un participante sometido a diez sesiones de neurofeedback (una hora cada sesión). Resultados: Actualmente hay veintiún artículos sobre neurofeedback en depresión, entre los cuales solo seis presentan resultados experimentales originales. Todos ellos reportan resultados positivos con la técnica. Los protocolos más usados se centran en la asimetría inter-hemisférica de Alpha, y la razón Theta/Beta dentro del cortex prefrontal izquierdo. Nuestro nuevo protocolo integra ambas dimensiones en un solo circuito, añadiendo a una tercera línea de programación, que divide las frecuencias Beta y refuerza el decremento de Beta-3, con objeto de reducir la ansiedad. La consecuencia favorable de nuestro experimento clínico sugiere que nueva investigación con este protocolo es aconsejable.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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