Exploring electroencephalographic infraslow neurofeedback treatment for chronic low back pain: a double-blinded safety and feasibility randomized placebo-controlled trial

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Scientific Reports


Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a disabling condition worldwide. In CLBP, neuroimaging studies demonstrate abnormal activities in cortical areas responsible for pain modulation, emotional, and sensory components of pain experience [i.e., pregenual and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (pgACC, dACC), and somatosensory cortex (SSC), respectively]. This pilot study, conducted in a university setting, evaluated the feasibility, safety, and acceptability of a novel electroencephalography-based infraslow-neurofeedback (EEG ISF-NF) technique for retraining activities in pgACC, dACC and SSC and explored its effects on pain and disability. Participants with CLBP (n = 60), recruited between July’20 to March’21, received 12 sessions of either: ISF-NF targeting pgACC, dACC + SSC, a ratio of pgACC*2/dACC + SSC, or Placebo-NF. Descriptive statistics demonstrated that ISF-NF training is feasible [recruitment rate (7 participants/month), dropouts (25%; 20–27%), and adherence (80%; 73–88%)], safe (no adverse events reported), and was moderate to highly acceptable [Mean ± SD: 7.8 ± 2.0 (pgACC), 7.5 ± 2.7 (dACC + SCC), 8.2 ± 1.9 (Ratio), and 7.7 ± 1.5 (Placebo)]. ISF-NF targeting pgACC demonstrated the most favourable clinical outcomes, with a higher proportion of participants exhibiting a clinically meaningful reduction in pain severity [53%; MD (95% CI): − 1.9 (− 2.7, − 1.0)], interference [80%; MD (95% CI): − 2.3 (− 3.5, − 1.2)], and disability [73%; MD (95% CI): − 4.5 (− 6.1, − 2.9)] at 1-month follow-up. ISF-NF training is a feasible, safe, and an acceptable treatment approach for CLBP.



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