Our brain is the most complex part of our body. Even though the organ only weighs about 3 pounds, the brain determines our intelligence level, how well our senses function, the way our body moves, and how we behave. For years, neuroscientists have studied the brain to better understand addiction, anxiety, neurodegenerative conditions, and mood disorders. But a new test called quantitative electroencephalography, or qEEG, can create a visual map of the brain that can tell us even more about our body’s most complex organ.
Understanding The qEEG Test
Also called “brain mapping,” qEEG is a type of test that measures the electrical activity in the brain. In simple terms, the test measures brainwaves the same way an electrocardiogram, or EKG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.
Data from qEEG tests provides 2 main sources of information:
- The quantity, or number, of brainwaves present in our brain
- The type of brainwaves flowing through our brain
The quantitative, or “q” in qEEG, simply means that this brain test measures the number of brainwaves we have in comparison to normal brainwave activity. The comparison is similar to what happens when we have our blood drawn. The electroencephalogram or “EEG” part of qEEG means that the test primarily looks at brainwaves. Put together, the data displays a “map” of our brain.
What Happens During a qEEG Test?
Even though a qEEG test measures the body’s most complex organ, the process is quite simple. Before the test begins, a qEEG technician will clean your forehead and ear lobes to remove any oil from your skin. The technician will then place a cap with small holes in it on your head. After the technician places a cooling gel into the holes, the cap is connected to the EEG equipment through a set of wires. At this point, both you and the technician can see your brain waves on the computer screen.
Typically, the brain mapping test consists of 2 different parts: the recording of brainwaves and the creation of the multi-colored brain map.
- Brainwave recording. The technician will record your brainwaves with your eyes open and closed. All you need to do is relax and sit still. Imagining yourself doing something relaxing, such as sitting on the beach sunbathing or getting a massage, can help you minimize movement and relax your muscles. The time needed to record brainwaves can vary, but usually, the process takes about 10 to 20 minutes.
- Brain map creation. After the EEG technician has recorded your brainwaves, they will need to analyze the results of the qEEG. After they have completed a thorough analysis, the data is converted into a multi-colored brain map that they later review with you in person.
The Brain Map Report: What It Shows Us
The brain map reports consist of several pages of data that show how different parts of the brain function. Specifically, brain maps can help us see which parts of our brains function normally or abnormally. This information can help reveal or confirm:
- Head injuries
- Brain tumors
- Memory problems
Brain mapping can also let doctors and behavioral experts know that you may have:
- Difficulty paying attention
- Impulsive behavior
- Trouble managing your emotions
- Poor problem-solving ability
Doctors and behavioral experts can glean this kind of information by looking at various types of analyses listed in the brain mapping report, which include:
- Magnitude Analysis
- Discriminants Analysis
Here’s what each of these analyses can tell us about our brains.
Magnitude Analysis: How Well The Brain’s Lobes Function
This part of the brain map report looks at the brainwave activity in each lobe of the brain. Our brainwaves represent different types of mental, cognitive, or emotional activity we need to do in order to function effectively. On a brain map, green typically indicates a normal level, while red symbolizes elevated levels, and yellow indicates extreme levels of activity.
- Delta waves help restore and rejuvenate our mind and body when we sleep, relax, or meditate.
- Theta waves help us process information and make memories. Theta waves also help us create, feel, daydream, and trust our intuition. These waves are strongest when we focus internally, meditate, and pray.
- Alpha waves help us focus on being present, calm, alert, and mentally astute.
- Beta waves help us think logically and increase our focus and concentration.
- Gamma waves help us process information and solve problems. Gamma waves are the strongest when we reach peak concentration levels.
Each lobe of the brain needs to have a certain amount of each brain wave type to function optimally. For example:
- Low beta and gamma waves in the frontal lobe, which regulates our problem-solving skills, can affect our impulse control and social relationships.
- Overactive beta and gamma waves in the parietal lobe, which helps us process sensory input, can make us hyperactive and impulsive.
- A high amount of delta and theta waves in the occipital lobe can cause memory problems and impact our depth perception and ability to recognize faces and objects.
Discriminants Analysis: How Well Our Brains Function Cognitively
This aspect of the brain map report specifically focuses on our cognitive, emotional, memory, and executive functioning. With this report, doctors and behavioral experts may be able to tell us about our risk for conditions that affect these types of functions, which can include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Executive functioning disorder
Can Brain Mapping Show How To Improve Our Brains?
Even though brain mapping mostly points out problems in the brain, a qEEG test can also help us improve our brains by showing us which areas of our minds need to be strengthened. Based on the results of your brain map, a doctor or behavioral health expert can suggest neurofeedback training that can help the brain “learn” to function more effectively. Thanks to the individual brain map, doctors can tailor the suggested brain training to meet your exact needs.
Invest In Your Brain’s Health
Here, at StoneRidge Centers, we’re proud to offer evidence-based brain science techniques that can help improve the brain’s functionality. Our brains determine so much of who we are, what we do, how we behave, and where we struggle. Our comprehensive programs can help you take charge of your mental health. Contact a member of our team today if you want to learn more about brain mapping or other ways you can restore your brain to optimal health.
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Because mental health and addiction concerns are so often interconnected, we utilize research-based approaches with evidence-based outcomes that promote overall healing and recovery.