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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1992 Jun;16(3):547-52.

Alterations in EEG amplitude, personality factors, and brain electrical mapping after alpha-theta brainwave training: a controlled case study of an alcoholic in recovery.

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Menninger Clinic, Topeka, KS 66601.


A controlled case study was conducted of effects of EEG alpha and theta brainwave training with a recovering alcoholic patient who experienced craving and fear of relapse after 18 months of abstinence. Training consisted of six sessions of thermal biofeedback to increase central nervous system (CNS) relaxation. Effects were documented with pretreatment and post-treatment personality testing, 20-channel digitized EEG evaluations both under relaxed conditions and under stress, minute-by-minute physiologic recordings of autonomic and EEG data during each training session, blood pressure, and heart rate indications taken both during relaxation and under stress, and by clinical observation. Results replicated those of a previous controlled study with chronic alcoholic patients not abstinent prior to treatment. New findings include post-treatment indications of more relaxed CNS functioning under stress, and of reduced autonomic activation both during relaxation and under stress. Brain-mapping indications of anxiety associated with painful cold-pressor stimulation were seen only in the pretest readings; at post-test the brain map indicated pain-associated EEG activity in the contralateral somatosensory area, but no apparent anxiety-associated EEG activity. At 4 months post-treatment the patient's wife and colleagues report the patient appears to function in a more relaxed way under the impact of stress, and he reports no longer experiencing craving for alcohol. Overall, support is provided for the possibility that alpha and theta brainwave training may be a useful intervention for the abstinent alcoholic experiencing stress-related craving and fear of relapse.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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