Sleep Med Psychophysiol.  2019 Jun;26(1):44-48. 10.14401/KASMED.2019.26.1.44.

Electroencephalographic Changes Induced by a Neurofeedback Training : A Preliminary Study in Primary Insomniac Patients

  • 1Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, CHA University, Phochun, Korea.
  • 2DongAhIlBo, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3KoSleep Clinic, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Department of Healthcare IT, Inje University, Ghimhae, Korea.
  • 5Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, CHA University, Seoul, Korea.


Insomnia is one of the most prevalent sleep disorders. Recent studies suggest that cognitive and physical arousal play an important role in the generation of primary insomnia. Studies have also shown that information processing disorders due to cortical hyperactivity might interfere with normal sleep onset and sleep continuity. Therefore, focusing on central nervous system arousal and normalizing the information process have become current topics of interest. It has been well known that neurofeedback can reduce the brain hyperarousal by modulating patients' brain waves during a sequence of behavior therapy. The purpose of this study was to investigate effects of neurofeedback therapy on electroencephalography (EEG) characteristics in patients with primary insomnia.
Thirteen subjects who met the criteria for an insomnia diagnosis and 14 control subjects who were matched on sex and age were included. Neurofeedback and sham treatments were performed in a random order for 30 minutes, respectively. EEG spectral power analyses were performed to quantify effects of the neurofeedback therapy on brain wave forms.
In patients with primary insomnia, relative spectral theta and sigma power during a therapeutic neurofeedback session were significantly lower than during a sham session (13.9 ± 2.6 vs. 12.2 ± 3.8 and 3.6 ± 0.9 vs. 3.2 ± 1.0 in %, respectively; p < 0.05). There were no statistically significant changes in other EEG spectral bands.
For the first time in Korea, EEG spectral power in the theta band was found to increase when a neurofeedback session was applied to patients with insomnia. This outcome might provide some insight into new interventions for improving sleep onset. However, the treatment response of insomniacs was not precisely evaluated due to limitations of the current pilot study, which requires follow-up studies with larger samples in the future.


EEG; Insomnia; Neurofeedback; Spectral analysis

MeSH Terms

Automatic Data Processing
Behavior Therapy
Brain Waves
Central Nervous System
Follow-Up Studies
Pilot Projects
Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders
Sleep Wake Disorders
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