Student VISN 17 Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans Baltimore, Maryland
Objective: Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are commonly characterized by neural changes that impair physical, behavioral, and cognitive functioning across diverse ages and demographics. Cognitive complaints frequently include memory difficulties, with deficits in episodic memory greatly impairing daily functioning and future planning. Although various interventions and rehabilitation techniques have been implemented for TBI, limited treatment options are available for TBI-driven memory complaints. Recent research has explored the use of neurofeedback training (NFT) to improve cognitive functioning in TBI patients, yet it remains unclear whether this intervention may be successful in improving these memory deficits.
Method: In this double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study, the use of EEG neurofeedback training (NFT) on verbal episodic memory was explored in 12 veterans with TBI. Participants were randomized to active treatment or sham treatment, and they completed 20 sessions of NFT. Clinical assessments and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were collected pre and post treatment to measure any changes in resting-state functional connectivity or cognitive functioning.
Results: Findings suggest that immediate recall scores improved following active NFT, as measured by the California Verbal Learning Task-II. We also observed increased resting-state functional connectivity between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the inferior temporal lobe following NFT (Fig. 1), which may represent an underlying mechanism of memory improvement.
Conclusions: These exploratory findings may hold promise for future research on the use of NFT for memory enhancement in various populations.