WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. –
Feb. 11, 2015 – Nearly nine out of 10 premenopausal and postmenopausal
women in the United States experience hot flashes, night sweats or other disturbances
in mood and sleep. Unfortunately, there aren’t many safe and effective
therapies available to manage these symptoms.
In a pilot study conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Medical
Center, hot flash severity scores, as well as symptoms of insomnia and
depression, were significantly reduced after participants received a
non-invasive neurotechnology known as high-resolution, relational, resonance-based
electro encephalic mirroring, or HIRREM.
The study is published in the Feb. 11 online issue of the
During the menopausal process, estrogen levels fluctuate and
eventually fall enough to cause impaired temperature regulation, possibly
associated with resetting in patterns of brain electrical activity, to produce
the various symptoms of menopause, said the study’s lead author, Charles H. Tegeler,
M.D., professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist.
HIRREM identifies dominant brain frequencies through
high-resolution spectral analysis of non-invasively recorded brain electrical
activity. Those dominant frequencies are translated into auditory tones of
varying pitch and timing that are quickly presented as acoustic feedback via earbuds.
This is intended to allow the brain to relax and thus, on its own, to improve
balance in brain electrical activity, Tegeler said.
Twelve women ranging in age from 46 to 69 were enrolled in
the study. Hot flash symptoms were reported by all participants, and frequency
and severity were documented by use of a daily diary. At the beginning of the
study, the participants underwent baseline assessments to obtain information
regarding brain electrical frequencies and amplitudes. They then received an average
of 13 HIRREM sessions over several days. After their final session, the
participants returned for a follow-up data collection visit.
“Our study found that there were statistically significant reductions
in the hot flash severity score, which incorporates both frequency and severity
of symptoms, as well as decreased symptoms of insomnia and depression, and
decreased amplitudes in the high-frequency range of temporal lobe brain
electrical activity,” Tegeler said. "These findings are consistent with the idea that HIRREM may support reduced hot flash symptoms by allowing the brain to relax, particularly in the high-frequency range."
However, interpretation of the findings is limited by the size
of the study, the absence of a control group and the lack of long-term
follow-up, he noted. Future controlled trials are needed to assess the
magnitude and duration of benefits.
HIRREM was developed by Brain State Technologies of
Funding for the study was provided by The Susanne Marcus
Collins Foundation, Inc.
Study co-authors include Catherine L. Tegeler, B.S., Jared F. Cook, M.A., and Nicholas M. Pajewski, Ph.D., of Wake Forest Baptist; Sung W. Lee, M.D., of Brain State Technologies.
More information on this research program can be found at www.wakehealth.edu/HIRREM.