A leading neuroscientist points out that abnormal brain rhythms contribute to a variety of disorders. It’s a problem that Neurofeedback fundamentally helps improve. The article explains it and illustrates why it’s difficult for many scientists and doctors to grasp this new concept.
Michael Cohen – Director, Center For Brain Training
In a Host of Ailments, Seeing a Brain Out of Rhythm
Scientist at Work | Rodolfo Llinás
The New York Times, By SANDRA BLAKESLEE
Published: December 1, 2008
Dr. Patrick J. Kelly, the head of neurosurgery at New York University, folded his arms hard against his chest, radiating skepticism.
“I have a neurological problem that I’ve never told anyone about — not a soul,” he recalls saying to his colleague Dr. Rodolfo Llinás before an auditorium packed with neurosurgeons. “You listen to my brain and tell me what it is. If you do, I will believe you.”
So it was that Dr. Kelly allowed his brain to be scanned in a MEG machine, a device that measures tiny magnetic signals reflecting changes in brain rhythms.
After analyzing his colleague’s brain activity, Dr. Llinás announced: “You have tinnitus. Right brain. The phantom sound ringing in your ears must be very loud. It is low frequency, a rumbling noise.”
Dr. Kelly was stunned, he said later. He had been hearing that noise ever since he served at a station hospital in Danang during the Vietnam War. The roar of helicopters dropping off casualties had permanently warped his hearing.
Dr. Llinás, the chairman of neuroscience and physiology at the N.Y.U. School of Medicine, believes that abnormal brain rhythms help account for a variety of serious disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, tinnitus and depression. His theory may explain why the technique called deep brain stimulation — implanting electrodes into particular regions of the brain — often alleviates the symptoms of movement disorders like Parkinson’s.
The theory is far from widely accepted, and most neurosurgeons say the mechanisms behind deep brain stimulation remain a mystery. Still, surgeons like Dr. Kelly are excited about the research, saying it suggests new targets for treating a variety of disorders.
“It’s a mystery to me why it took me so long to get what Rodolfo was saying,” Dr. Kelly said. “I’d like to latch on to the excuse that I was too busy. In truth, I was too dumb to listen. Now I tell my younger colleagues, ‘Listen to this man.’ He’s on to something that can revolutionize neurosurgery and our understanding of how the brain works.”