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A Focused Mind

Don't be boxed in by inattention!

Dr. Kacir's ADHD Blog

Blog

Neurofeedback and ADHD

Posted on November 1, 2010 at 2:06 PM
I was listening to National Public Radio this morning and heard a piece describing the use of Neurofeedback as treatment for ADHD.  The presenter was a mom who was treated with it first and then decided to treat her 12-year-old son.  The presentation summed up the positive and negative aspects of the treatment very well.  On the positive side, it has been shown to work, although it is not clear how long the effects last when the active treatment stops.  On the negative side, it is complex, expensive and time consuming.  Furthermore, it is difficult to evaluate practitioners who provide the service.
 
What is Neurofeedback?  Essentially it involves a limited EEG or electo-encephalogram, during which electrodes are attached to the patient's scalp so that the patient's brainwaves can be displayed to him or her.  The patient then concentrates on increasing certain brain waves that are associated with better concentration and decreasing those that are produced with distraction.  It is "biofeedback for the brain" and is provided by a subset of biofeedback centers that have the right equipment and personnel trained to use it.

Categories: Alternative Treatments for ADHD

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8 Comments

Reply Dr. Kacir
3:44 PM on March 8, 2011 
I just read a summary of an article that reported on a group of children in Germany who were treated with neurofeedback and compared with a control group who practiced attention skills on a computer. Six months after the treatments parents rated inattentive symptoms and homework problems as being improved (compared to the time before treatment). The improvement was maintained from the time immediately after the neurofeedback training was completed.

The authors of the study recommend that neurofeedback be used together with behavior therapy and medications. One drawback to the study lies in its small size: only 61 out of 94 total children were evaluated at all time points. Another problem is that this summary did not quantify the improvement in ADHD symptoms. It is unclear whether the results justify the huge investment of time, equipment and effort involved in neurofeedback training. It will be interesting to see further follow-up to see whether clinically significant effects last even longer than 6 months beyond the treatment.
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