what is the qEEG?

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qEEG: The EEG & the “q”
The Electroencephlograph is a device that measures electrical-chemical reactions of neurons across the scalp of the cerebral cortex (outer brain). Tiny cup-like sensors capture the signal which is then amplified by the EEG machine. Some doctors and clinicians use “caps,” which look like cloth swimmer’s caps, with the leads sewn into them at commonly accepted locations. Other clinicians are still a bit more “old school,” still applying each lead one-by-one. Regardless, there are 19 sites which are universally accepted, allowing fellow doctors and clinicians to discuss specific regions and ensure everybody is on the same page.

Previously, analog signal captured from 19 sites would be drawn out on rolls of paper and then read and interpreted. However, newer technology converts the analog signal to digital, allowing the data to be saved in the computer as well as exported into other software programs for analysis.

The “q” in qEEG is for the quantitative analysis performed to the raw EEG data collected. Psychologists and Neurotherapists utilize additional software programs to identify areas of the brain that are under or over-activated, and look for correlations of these brain patterns that have been documented in psychological/behavioral concerns.

What is measured by the qEEG?
The electrical energy of our brain communicating is also referred to as brainwaves. The frequency of this process is measured in hertz (cycles/second). There are 4 main categories of brainwaves, which correlate to the observed mental state as follows:

  • Delta .5-4 hz - associated with sleep
  • Theta 4-8 hz - dream-like state, reflective, creative inward thought
  • Alpha 8-12 hz - “in the now” focus, an alert relaxation
  • Low Beta 12-15 hz - mind/body calmness
  • Beta 15-20 hz - mental alertness, processing, analytical
  • High Beta 20-30+ hz - over-active brain, anxiety, obsessive or racing thoughts, panic

As our brainwaves increases in frequency, our alertness may also increase. To complicate matters, each of the 19 sites we examine has an assortment of these Delta, Theta, Alpha, and Beta brainwaves. The qEEG analysis allows us to see how much or little each site has of each frequency. This data can then be analyzed in ratios, connectivity, asymmetry, and coherence measures (how much each site talks to one another).

Our brain is like our engine. It determines how we think, feel, and act. The qEEG/brainmapping analysis provides an objective account of our brain's functioning, and offers a starting point for balancing one’s brain. A brain that is struggling with too much or too little activity in any region can limit one’s happiness, productivity, and self-esteem.

Daniel Amen, MD, a psycharistist, supports the use of SPECT and qEEG brain assessments. He has gone on record to say, “the brain is the only organ we do not examine before we treat it.” It is significant to have Dr. Amen as a pioneer bridging the clinical world with the medical world. Amen has found 6 different brain patterns of ADD and 7 different patterns of anxiety and depression. Each of these 13 patterns need DIFFERENT treatments, medications, and strategies to regulate and balance the brain!

Watch the qEEG process!

Medical vs Clinical Focus:
It may be helpful to differentiate the medical and clinical uses of the EEG machine. Medical professionals utilize the raw EEG and analyze the squiggly lines on the paper/computer screen. They are looking for biological problems and abnormal waveforms that may be seizure, learning difficulty, or brain injury. While they can examine each channel/site’s activity, there isn’t a way to filter out the different brainwave categories (Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta) in each line. The raw EEG shows all brainwaves in a single source, which limits analysis of each category.

Clinicians, on the other hand, examine the same raw EEG for any abnormal patterns or waveforms, and refer to a medical doctor immediately if there is any concern of a biological imbalance. After ruling out any biological concerns, the Psychologist or Neurotherapist would begin looking for brainwave imbalances, using additional software that allows for not only the Delta, Theta, Alpha, and Beta categories, but all the individual frequencies inside of them as well. Brain maps (the qEEG database assessments) show 30 different frequencies of the brain at all 19 locations. This offers countless options for analysis and identifying areas of the brain that are under- or over-activated. Thus, the clinical perspective does not compete, but complements the medical perspective, offering another angle of understanding brain function.

For example, a medical doctor could sign off on a raw EEG (no biological concerns of the EEG); however, this raw EEG data could then be analyzed using additional software programs and databases. The analysis could identify signature patterns of under-/over-activated regions, point to clinical or psychological significance in areas such as ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, obsessive compulsive tendencies, post-tramautic stress disorder, and so on. Therefore, it is possible to have nothing medically abnormal, yet still have some areas of the cortex that could use tweaking or balancing.

qEEG: the roadmap for growth and positive change:
While there is some debate between the medical and clinical worlds about the use of EEG, clinical or normative databases can offer an objective viewpoint that may concur or contrast with subjective symptoms/reporting. These databases take the raw EEG and compare your brainwave activity to that of somebody your age, your gender, and even the same hand you write with. These databases have clinical significance and have been documented in research studies to aid in neurofeedback protocols, ADHD/ADD assessment, and medication selection.

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