scientific research proves that neurofeedback works to end or reduce
migraine pain in most people.
Clinical studies support neurofeedback as a way to end migraine pain
rapidly and permanently.
"No more migraines, way less stress, I wish I had done this sooner. I
wish my doctor had made the suggestion earlier instead of wasting time
and money on pills that did not work."
Experimental and Clinical Results
Frank H. Duffy, M.D., Professor and Pediatric
Neurologist at Harvard Medical School, recently stated in an editorial
in the January 2000 issue of the journal Clinical Electroencephalography that the scholarly literature suggests that neurofeedback should play a major therapeutic role in many difficult areas.
my opinion, if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of
efficacy it would be universally accepted and widely used" (p. v). "It is a field to be taken seriously by all." (p. vii).
There is now good scientific evidence from both controlled research
and clinical studies as well as long-term follow-up that EEG-biofeedback
can be an effective treatment for seizures and attention deficit
compared to both common drug treatments and placebo, and that treatment
affects are long-lasting. There is growing scientific and clinical
evidence supporting the effectiveness of EEG biofeedback in the
treatment of the following conditions: alcoholism, anxiety disorders,
asthma, chronic pain, depression, essential hypertension, insomnia, migraine and tension type headaches, irritable bowel, motion sickness, and Raynaud's disease.
Bibliography of Scientific Studies for Neurofeedback and
Pain & Headache
Coger, R., & Werbach, M. (1975). Attention,
anxiety, and the effects of learned enhancement of EEG alpha in chronic
pain: A pilot study in biofeedback. Chapter in B. L. Drue, Jr. (Ed.), Pain Research and Treatment. New York: Academic Press.
Gannon, L., & Sternbach, R. A. (1971). Alpha enhancement as a treatment for pain: A case study. Behavior Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry, 2, 209-213.
Ham, L. P., & Packard, R. C. (1996). A
retrospective, follow-up study of biofeedback-assisted relaxation
therapy in patients with posttraumatic headache. Biofeedback & Self-Regulation, 21(2), 93-104.
Kropp, P., Siniatchkin, M., & Gerber,W-D. (2002). On the
pathophysiology of migraine: Links for Aempirically based treatment@
with neurofeedback. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 27(3), 203-213.
Lehmann, D., Lang, W., & Debruyne, P. (1976). Controlled EEG alpha feedback training in normals and headache patients. Archives of Psychiatry, 221, 331-343.
Matthew, A., Mishm, H., & Kumamiah, V. (1987). Alpha feedback in the treatment of tension headache. Journal of Personality & Clinical Studies, 3(1), 17-22.
McKenzie, R., Ehrisman, W., Montgomery, P. S., &
Barnes, R. H. (1974). The treatment of headache by means of
electroencephalographic biofeedback. Headache, 13, 164-172.
Pelletier, K. R., & Pepper, E. (1977). Developing a biofeedback model: Alpha EEG feedback as a means for pain control. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis, 25, 361-371.
Rosenfeld, J. P., Dowman, R., Heinricher, N., &
Silvia, R. (1984). Operantly controlled somatosensory evoked potentials:
Specific effects on pain processes. Chapter in B. Rockstroh, T. Elbert,
W. Lutzenberger, & N. Birbaumer (Eds.), Self-Regulation of the Brain and Behavior. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 164-179.
Rosenfeld, J. P., Silvia, R., Weitkunat, R., &
Dowman, R. (1985). Operant control of human somatosensory evoked
potentials alters experimental pain perception. Chapter in H. L. Fields,
R. Dubner, & F. Cervero (Eds.), Advances in Pain Research and Therapy, Volume 9: Proceedings of the Fourth World Congress on Pain. New York: Raven Press, 343-349.
Siniatchkin, M., Hierundar, A., Kropp, P., Kuhnert,
R., Gerber, W-D., & Stephani, U. (2000). Self-regulation of slow
cortical potentials in children with migraine: An exploratory study. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 25(1), 13-32.
Kropp P, Siniatchkin M, Gerber WD. Institute of Medical
Psychology, University of Kiel, Niemannsweg 147, D-24105 Kiel, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org
Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2002 Sep;27(3):203-13. On the
pathophysiology of migraine--links for "empirically based treatment"
- Psychophysiological data support the concept that migraine is the
result of cortical hypersensitivity, hyperactivity, and a lack of
habituation. There is evidence that this is a brain-stem related
information processing dysfunction. This cortical activity reflects a
periodicity between 2 migraine attacks and it may be due to endogenous
or exogenous factors. In the few days preceding the next attack slow
cortical potentials are highest and habituation delay experimentally
recorded during contingent negative variation is at a maximum. These
striking features of slow cortical potentials are predictors of the next
attack. The pronounced negativity can be fed back to the patient. The
data support the hypothesis that a change in amplitudes of slow cortical
potentials is caused by altered habituation during the recording
session. This kind of neurofeedback can be characterized as "empirically
based" because it improves habituation and it proves to be clinically
Tansey, M. A. (1991). A neurobiological treatment for
migraine: The response of four cases of migraine to EEG biofeedback
training. Headache Quarterly: Current Treatment & Research, 90-96.
- One of the research team said:
"This exploratory study provided
results emphasizing the potential significance of neurofeedback in the
prophylactic treatment of migraine in childhood. We hope the
clinical efficacy of neurofeedback in migraine will be studied and
proved not only for children but for adults as well."
Sample Clinical Results
- When a woman came in for training for her migraines, she happened to
have a migraine at the time of her first session. After only three
minutes of EEG training, the migraine headache was gone.
- A woman happened to be in our office, who had never done EEG
training. She started developing an aura, which presaged the onset
of her usual migraines within about twenty minutes. She was asked to
try the training for her migraines. Within minutes, her aura was
aborted, and she did not get her usual migraine headache.
- A man came to an office for his migraines. He had a migraine
history going back some twenty-five years. As soon as Imitrex came on
the market, he used it on a weekly basis. Beginning with his very first
EEG biofeedback training session, he no longer needed the Imitrex, and
after 18 training sessions, he no longer reported any migraines.
- Migraines are considered an "easy" disorder to resolve within the neurofeedback community.
- Multiple clinicians have reported that migraine headaches
remediate within 15 minutes. Even if dramatic results are not seen
immediately, then the migraine episode is turned during the session to
amelioration and early termination.
- Follow-up results date from 1987 for long term migraine
headache relief. The general pattern is that the person may still
be suseseptible to migraines during high stress or after multiple
triggering events, but that the worst is always in the past.
- One woman had stopped having her migraines but the low
barometric pressure of a hurricane woke a woman up with headache.
Neurofeedback enabled her to abort her headache between the time she got
out of bed with a headache and went to the kitchen for her
imitrex. It had just gone away that quickly. That had never
Consensus within the Community of Practitioners
- Improved brain cortex self-regulation enables greater inhibition of the migraine process.
- Migraines are considered an "easy" disorder to resolve within
the neurofeedback community. The success rate is high
(80-95%), takes 6-25 sessions to resolve, and results
endure. Positive side effects vary but most often
include mental clarity and improved sleep. Those who enjoy the
benefits of neurofeedback are initially grateful, but then get on with
their lives and
- Successful practitioners typically concentrate on a single
method located at either, C3-C4, P3-4, or Fpz. Rarely does anyone
use each of these sites with multiple biofeedback,
neurofeedback, or related neurotherapy methodologies. All
methods work very well.
- Theoretically, competing mechanisms of action include:
- learning to alter characteristic brain waves (biofeedback induced changes in voltage output on the scalp);
- More self-awareness for improved self-regulation;
- stretching brain plasticity (exercise, stretching, aerobic cross-training);
- brain relaxation, release of constraints;
- balancing of autonomic nervous system arousal;
- interupting increasingly cacophonous feedback loops;
- infrared brightening;
- renormalization of brain functioning--synchronization through chaos;
- disrupting attractors (breaking up storm patterns) and clearing them during sleep;
- increased oxygenation to frontal or parietal lobes;
- efficient waste removal with improved blood perfusion;
- vasculargenisis (new blood tubing); and
- angiogenisis (new dendrites or network connections).
- Clearly, more research is needed.