Why Brain Mapping is Being Heavily Integrated into the Treatment of Mental Health Issues
When it comes to diagnosing and treating mental health issues, we typically think of medications and forms of psychiatric and psychological therapy. But now, a type of imaging, called brain mapping, is also making waves in the medical field.
Brain mapping is a procedure that measures electrical activities in the brain. It uses several neuroimaging techniques including electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and magnetoencephalography (MEG) to produce images. Providers study the images created to identify abnormal activities and come up with treatment methods best suited to the patient’s needs.
Read on to find out more about brain mapping and how it is advancing mental health treatment.
Brain Mapping History
The first brain mapping studies were conducted by scientist Paul Broca in the late 1800s. He had been observing stroke victims who experienced damage in the speech centers in the brain. His research led him to believe that distinct parts of the brain controlled specific regions in the body.
As technologies emerged in the late 20th century which permitted enhanced imaging of soft tissues like the brain, more detailed mapping evolved using positron emission topography (PET). Later on, fMRI was integrated as well. The combination of the two provided researchers with insight into the brain’s structure as well as how it functions.
What is the qEEG Test?
Brain maps are acquired during a qEEG test. This is a noninvasive, painless procedure that involves the clinician placing a cap with small holes in it on the patient’s scalp. The cap is attached to EEG equipment via a set of wires. The equipment then provides a view of the patient’s brain waves which appear on the computer screen.
The test consists of two different parts, the recording of the brain waves and the creation of the brain map. Here’s what’s involved:
● Recording: Patients will be asked to open and close their eyes at various points in the recording process while doing their best to relax. The process takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes.
● Creation: After the recording is complete, the technician will analyze the test results. Then they will convert their data into a multi-colored map that will be reviewed with the patient in conjunction with a neurologist or qualified physician.
What Can Brain Mapping Show Us?
Brain mapping can reveal several abnormalities that can be beneficial in the treatment and diagnosis of various conditions including the following:
● Memory problems
● Brain tumors
● Head injuries
● Seizures and epilepsy
● Bipolar disorder
● Executive functioning disorder
It can also help determine what may be causing:
● Impulsive behavior
● Poor problem-solving ability
● Difficulty managing emotions
● Impulsive behavior
Magnitude Analysis and Discriminants Analysis
Two main types of analysis are used in the brain mapping process. These include:
Magnitude analysis determines how well the brain lobes function. It looks at brainwave activity that represents our mental, cognitive and emotional processes. On the map, green will indicate normal levels while red means elevated levels, and yellow means extremely elevated levels.
It measures the activity of the following brainwaves.
● Delta: These help restore and rejuvenate the mind while we sleep, relax or meditate.
● Theta: Theta waves are vital in the creation of memories. They also help us create, daydream, feel and trust our decision-making capabilities.
● Alpha: These help us focus. They promote alertness and concentration.
● Beta: Beta waves play a role in focus and concentration and they help us think logically.
● Gamma: Gamma waves help us process information and problem solve.
Discriminants analysis uses statistical analysis to show a visual meter for the major functions of thebrain, such as the cognitive, emotional, memory processing, executive functions. It can help providers determine the patients’ risk of certain mental conditions by comparing the result to an expected result for a given variable.
Can Brain Mapping Help Us Improve Our Brains?
In addition to providing the best options for treatment, brain mapping can also improve our brain function. It shows us the areas of the brain that may need to be strengthened. Once doctors glean this information, they can suggest neurofeedback training to help the brain learn how to function more effectively.
While medications and therapy have been effective in the management of mental conditions, brain mapping provides an insider’s view that allows doctors to determine what’s going on beneath the surface. This emergent technology can assist with diagnosis and guided treatments and may be an important discussion point with your primary care provider and/or licensed professional therapist.