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What is qEEG Brain Mapping all about?

Definition of EEG:
Electroencephalography (EEG) is the measurement of electrical patterns at the surface of the scalp which reflect cortical activity, and are commonly referred to as “brainwaves”. Quantitative EEG (qEEG) is the analysis of the digitized EEG, and in lay terms this sometimes is also called “Brain Mapping”. The qEEG is an extension of the analysis of the visual EEG interpretation which may assist and even augment our understanding of the EEG and brain function.” - taken from: www.qeegsupport.com
Definition of qEEG:
“Quantitative Electroencephalography (qEEG) is a procedure that processes the recorded EEG activity from a multi-electrode recording using a computer. This multi-channel EEG data is processed with various algorithms, such as the “Fourier” classically, or in more modern applications “Wavelet” analysis). The digital data is statistically analyzed, sometimes comparing values with “normative” database reference values. The processed EEG is commonly converted into color maps of brain functioning called “Brain Maps”. - taken from: www.qeegsupport.com
OK, now that you have read the official versions, perhaps it is possible to reduce all this clinical data down to the lowest common denominator (remember seventh grade fractions?) thereby allowing us laypersons to better understand what qEEG and Brain Mapping are all about. First of all 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 within psychological and behavioral concerns.

Secondly, regarding the qEEG Brain Mapping, or more commonly referred to as just “Brain Mapping” or “Brain Map”, it is important to understand that our brain is like our engine. It determines how we think, feel, and act. The Brain Mapping analysis provides an objective account of our brain's functioning, and offers a starting point for balancing one’s brain. As an example, a brain struggling with too much or too little activity in any region can limit one’s happiness, productivity, and self-esteem.

Now then, let us briefly explore some of the nuts n’ bolts or more commonly asked questions of qEEG and Brain Mapping, or to be more specific the Equipment, Assessment and Analysis.

I. The Equipment:

Most clinicians use “brain caps” that fit on the head with the leads sewn in at precise locations, referred to as The International 10-20 System. This configuration allows doctors and clinicians the opportunity to talk about the same thing, and identify areas of the brain just by looking at a report.

After this brain cap is placed upon the head, conductive gel is applied to the sensors. This helps make contact between the scalp and the lead sensor that is sending data to the EEG machine. This brain map provides us a baseline to work from while we retrain the brain.

II. The Assessment:

EEG recordings can be 5 minutes or 24 hours, depending on what is being tested. In the clinical world, 5-10 minute assessments are common, whereby there may be multiple runs (several 5-10 minute tests back to back) that compare and contrast brainwave activity. For example, looking at the brain eyes open, eyes closed, and maybe under a math or reading task is common.

Why you need a QEEG before you start Neurofeedback! Dr. Daniel Amen, a physician, double board certified psychiatrist and Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association fully supports the use of qEEG brain assessments in developing a base understanding for all clients. He has gone on record to say, “The brain is the only organ we do not examine before we treat it.” It is indeed significant and valuable that we have Dr. Amen as a pioneer and gifted colleague bridging the clinical world with the medical world.

Once the doctor or clinician is done with the brain mapping process, they will remove the cap from your head, or each individual lead if they don’t use a cap. You are then free to wash the gel out of your hair. But don’t worry, the most common solution, Electrogel, is water soluble. Personally, I’ve already had it in my hair for a clinical study I was doing for over 4 hours and it still came right out with minimal effort.

III. The Analysis:

Depending on the speed and reporting, most qEEG assessments run this raw EEG data just collected through several different software programs and normative databases.

First, we will discuss the databases. The raw EEG that was captured and then converted into digital format is now imported into a software analysis database for further clinical review. In addition, the software can check different brainwave ratios that correlate with ADD, depression, anxiety, trauma, etc. Colorful maps can also be printed showing the entire head at each frequency the brain operates at – a great roadmap for Neurofeedback, audiovisual entrainment, and other brain balancing methods.

With this data, the raw EEG, and the quantitative assessment, your provider can then make an educated decision on how to balance the client’s brain. For qEEG assessments that show little inner brain abnormalities, Neurofeedback may be an option. For cases where there are both cortical and inner brain imbalances or abnormalities, medications, brainwave entrainment, and audio visual entrainment or CES (cranial electro-stimulation) may be an option.

Finally it is important to remember that “the QEEG does not assess the structure of the brain, but rather, evaluates the manner in which a particular person’s brain functions. It is not designed to diagnose tumors, epilepsy, or other structural medical conditions, but rather, gives us the ability to view the dynamic changes taking place throughout the brain during processing tasks and assist in determining which areas of the brain are fully engaged and processing efficiently.” -taken from: www.dr.mueller-healthpsychology.com

I hope this abbreviated version in some way was able to help you appreciate the difficult and challenging world of qEEG, Brain Mapping and Neurofeedback. For further information and a far more comprehensive understanding, please visit us by following the links provided in this website.
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