Neurofeedback treatment for ADHD gaining strong support

Posted on May 5, 2014

Photo: flickr

Neu­ro­feed­back - also known as EEG Biofeed­back - is an ADHD treat­ment in which indi­vid­u­als learn to alter their typ­i­cal EEG pat­tern to one that is con­sis­tent with a focused, atten­tive state. This is done by col­lect­ing EEG data from indi­vid­u­als as they focus on stim­uli pre­sented on a com­puter screen. Their abil­ity to con­trol the stim­uli, for exam­ple, keep­ing the smile on a smi­ley face or keep­ing a video play­ing, is con­tin­gent on main­tain­ing an EEG state con­sis­tent with focused atten­tion. Neu­ro­feed­back pro­po­nents argue that this abil­ity gen­er­al­izes to real world sit­u­a­tions and results in bet­ter atten­tion dur­ing aca­d­e­mic and related tasks.

How do the ben­e­fits of neu­ro­feed­back for ADHD com­pare to those pro­vided by stim­u­lant med­ica­tion? Med­ica­tion remains the most widely used ADHD inter­ven­tion and exam­in­ing this ques­tion is thus impor­tant. In a prior issue of Atten­tion Research Update I reviewed a study com­par­ing neu­ro­feed­back to med­ica­tion treat­ment. Both treat­ments yielded sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits and did not dif­fer sig­nif­i­cantly from one another.

From the stud­ies, neu­ro­feed­back and stim­u­lant med­ica­tion treat­ment yielded sig­nif­i­cant and gen­er­ally con­sis­tent ben­e­fits for chil­dren with ADHD. In con­trast to prior stud­ies com­par­ing neu­ro­feed­back and med­ica­tion, both employed ran­dom assign­ment. The sec­ond study had sev­eral addi­tional strengths includ­ing col­lect­ing data from mul­ti­ple infor­mants - includ­ing teach­ers - and fol­low­ing chil­dren up to 6 months after neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment ended. It is thus espe­cially promis­ing that ben­e­fits evi­dent for neu­ro­feed­back when treat­ment first ended were gen­er­ally retained over this period. Med­ica­tion related gains also per­sisted, which is not sur­pris­ing given that chil­dren con­tin­ued on medication.

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Category(s):Adult ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Source material from SharpBrain


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