A Feasibility Study of LORETA Z-Score Neurofeedback Training in Adults with Schizophrenia-Spectrum Disorder Experiencing Treatment-Resistant Auditory Verbal Hallucinations

  • Francesco Amico Department of Psychiatry, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James Hospital
  • Michael Keane Actualise Clinic Dublin
  • Meredith Lee Actualise Clinic Dublin
  • Simon McCarthy-Jones Department of Psychiatry, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James Hospital
Keywords: schizophrenia, auditory verbal hallucinations, EEG, LORETA, neurofeedback, QEEG, theta power


Introduction: The incomplete effectiveness of interventions demands new ways to help people diagnosed with schizophrenia who experience auditory verbal hallucinations (SZ-AVH). We aimed to perform a feasibility study of low-resolution electromagnetic tomography analysis (LORETA) neurofeedback with people exhibiting treatment-resistant SZ-AVH. Methods: We examined changes in resting-state quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG) in four people with SZ-AVH (three male, one female) after LORETA Z-score neurofeedback training. Results: The study design had to be amended due to a national COVID-19 lockdown. Neurofeedback was well tolerated and no participants dropped out. Recruitment was the main feasibility issue. Barriers included a lack of knowledge of neurofeedback by patients and mental health teams, as well as the travel and time commitment involved. For the only patient who completed all 20 sessions, elevated frontal, central, and temporal theta absolute power measured at baseline normalized after treatment, but decreased temporal delta and an increase in coherence for all frequency bands were also found. Conclusions: Two key lessons were drawn for the feasibility of trials of EEG neurofeedback in this population. First, significant effort is needed to educate mental health professionals and patients about neurofeedback. Second, the equipment employed for neurofeedback training needs to be physically based at a site where patients routinely attend.


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