Trauma’s Effect on the Brain: A Case Study
Corey Deacon, neuroscientist at Neurvana Health, conducted brain mapping (QEEG) for a few members of Breaking Free Foundation, so we could learn a bit more about brain chemistry, trauma and the technology that gives experts this insight into our minds. For the purposes of this case study, we are going to share my report and imagery from the brain map Corey did for me. Having experienced multiple traumas in my life, I have been left with some lingering side effects of those experiences, both physical and mental. After reviewing Corey’s thorough report and seeing the imagery myself, it seemed an interesting opportunity to share publicly how trauma affects our brain and our bodies in a very real and physical manner.
How does QEEG work?
QEEG stands for quantitative EEG, which is a non-invasive technology that evaluates brain function based on electrical activity and communication between different hubs and networks of the brain. The process uses a head-cap a lot like a swim-cap, with 19 electrodes simultaneously transmitting data to a computer. Once a certain amount of data is obtained, this data can be generated through a variety of algorithms to obtain measurements for brain functionality.
As opposed to MRI or CT scans, QEEG can evaluate underlying causes for symptoms such as PTSD, chronic pain, addiction, depression, anxiety, ADD, autism, head injury, fatigue, insomnia, early developmental trauma, cognitive issues and much more.
Because structure does not change on a macroscopic neuronal level with these issues, MRI and CT scans cannot generally see them. Most of these scans come back ‘normal’, even though brain functioning can be massively disrupted. — Corey Deacon
These structures are responsible for hi-jacking our higher brain functions such as motivation, cognition, pleasure, creativity, relaxation, and many more. The limbic system and cingulate gyrus can hi-jack the brain to the point of experiencing sensations like the trauma, constantly and consistently. In Amber’s case this process has led to problems with anxiety, sleep issues and addiction. — Corey Deacon
Snapshots from the actual report from Corey:
The results of Amber’s brain map in eyes closed (drowsy state) are as follows:
Elevation in alpha in the frontal and prefrontal regions of her brain. This is correlated with difficulties coping with stress, addictive tendencies, and it can also be related to alcohol and marijuana use.
Significantly decreased delta rhythm in eyes closed. Because delta is required for deep sleep, this pattern explains Amber’s issues with insomnia and staying asleep.
Significant hyper-coherence issues (indicated by red lines in alpha and beta). This means the brain is in a state of hyper-communication. This is commonly seen in brains affected by trauma. This will also correlate with the sleep anxiety and insomnia Amber experiences.
Elevation of beta 3 (high-activation) in Brodmann Areas 23, 30, and 31. This is part of the cingulate gyrus and is correlated to anxiety, difficulties with worry & rumination, and sleep difficulties. This is directly connected to the limbic system and is more than likely the direct link to Amber’s traumatic experiences.
Elevated activity in the amygdala. This is the fear center of the brain. It is fully operational while we are still in the womb. Trauma can therefore start before we are even born and can be additive over our lifetime. Neurofeedback can be used to decrease this activation and reduce intrusive memories and feelings of fear.
Eyes open results indicate:
Substantial elevation in temporal beta and hi-beta. This indicates hippocampus and amygdala being ‘on fire’ and on high alert. This is more than likely contributing to issues with sleep anxiety.
Elevation of theta over fronto-central regions indicates limbic ‘hi-jacking’ of the frontal lobe that can cause both pain, inflammation, and make one feel out-of-control when dealing with stress, anxiety, emotions, etc.
Amplitude asymmetry indicates significant dissociation between the 2 hemispheres of the brain. This again causes difficulties coping and is more than likely caused by the sexual traumas experienced in her past.
The most exciting part of QEEG is that when a problem is isolated, we can actually change the functioning of the brain and improve symptoms. We do this with neuromodulation technology, and my favorites are:
LORETA neurofeedback: This is where we train and teach the brain out of its current state into a more organized, symptom-free state using operant conditioning methods. This is a form of self-regulation and probably the most important when dealing with a traumatized brainPulsed EMFs This is a type of neuromodulation where we add frequencies to the brain in pEMF form, forcing the brain into a certain state. This can also be used to decrease inflammation and normalize communication in the brain.Low-level Laser Therapy: Another great way to decrease inflammation, increase detoxification, increase neurogenesis (the building of new brain cells), and increase energy availability for brain functioning.Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: This technology utilizes a microcurrent to ‘turn on’ certain brain regions, and ‘turn off’ others.
— Corey Deacon
This case study was provided in conjunction with reports and findings from Corey Deacon, MSc, DNM, BCN, HHP, PhD of Neurvana Health.