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Home > Evidence
ADHD studies

Several recent studies showing good effects from neurofeedback on ADHD subjects.

Fernandez, T., et al, 2007, Changes in EEG current sources induced by neurofeedback in learning disabled children. An exploratory study.  Appl. Psychophysiol. Biofeedback, 32(3-4): 169-183.
The objective of this work was to explore Neurofeedback (NFB) effects on EEG current sources in Learning Disabled (LD) children, and to corroborate its beneficial consequences on behavioral and cognitive performance. NFB was given in twenty 30-min sessions to 11 LD children to reduce their abnormally high theta/alpha ratios (Experimental Group). Another five LD children with the same characteristics received a placebo treatment (Control Group). In the Control Group no changes in behavior or EEG current source were observed. In the Experimental Group, immediately after treatment children showed behavioral and cognitive improvements, but current source analysis showed few modifications; however, 2 months after treatment many changes occurred: a decrease in current of frequencies within the theta band, mainly in left frontal and cingulate regions, and enhancement in current of frequencies within the alpha band, principally in the right temporal lobe and
right frontal regions, and of frequencies within the beta band, mainly in left temporal, right frontal and cingulate cortex regions. In conclusion, NFB is a possibly efficacious treatment for LD children with an abnormally high theta/alpha ratio in any lead. The changes observed in EEG current sources may reflect the neurophysiological bases of the improvement that children experienced in their behavioral and cognitive activities.
 
Fernandez, T. et al, 2003.  EEG and behavioral changes following neurofeedback treatment in learning disabled children.  Clin. Electroencephalogr, 34(3): 145-152
Neurofeedback (NFB) is an operant conditioning procedure, by which the subject learns to control his/her EEG activity. On one hand, Learning Disabled (LD) children have higher values of theta EEG absolute and relative power than normal children, and on the other hand, it has been shown that minimum alpha absolute power is necessary for adequate performance. Ten LD children were selected with higher than normal ratios of theta to alpha absolute power (theta/alpha). The Test Of Variables of Attention (TOVA) was applied. Children were divided into two groups in order to maintain similar IQ values, TOVA values, socioeconomical status, and gender for each group. In the experimental group, NFB was applied in the region with highest ratio, triggering a sound each time the ratio fell below a threshold value. Noncontingent reinforcement was given to the other group. Twenty half-hour sessions were applied, at a rate of 2 per week. At the end of the 20 sessions,
TOVA, WISC and EEG were obtained. There was significant improvement in WISC performance in the experimental group that was not observed in the control group. EEG absolute power decreased in delta, theta, alpha and beta bands in the experimental group. Control children only showed a decrease in relative power in the delta band. All changes observed in the experimental group and not observed in the control group indicate better cognitive performance and the presence of greater EEG maturation in the experimental group, which suggests that changes were due not only to development but also to NFB treatment.
 
Becerra, J.  2006.  Follow-up study of learning-disabled children treated with neurofeedback or placebo. Clin. EEG & Neurosci., 37(3): 198-203.
This report is a 2-year follow-up to a previous study describing positive behavioral changes and a spurt of EEG maturation with theta/alpha neurofeedback (NFB) training in a group of Learning Disabled (LD) children. In a control paired group, treated with placebo, behavioral changes were not observed and the smaller maturational EEG changes observed were easily explained by increased age. Two years later, the EEG maturational lag in Control Group children increased, reaching abnormally high theta Relative Power values; the absence of positive behavioral changes continued and the neurological diagnosis remained LD. In contrast, after 2 years EEG maturation did continue in children who belonged to the Experimental Group with previous neurofeedback training; this was accompanied by positive behavioral changes, which were reflected in remission of LD symptoms.
 
Leins, et al.  2007.  Neurofeedback for children with ADHD: a comparison of SCP and Theta/Beta protocols.  Appl. Psychophysiol. Biofeedback, 32(2): 73-88
Behavioral and cognitive improvements in children with ADHD have been consistently reported after neurofeedback-treatment. However, neurofeedback has not been commonly accepted as a treatment for ADHD. This study addresses previous methodological shortcomings while comparing a neurofeedback-training of Theta-Beta frequencies and training of slow cortical potentials (SCPs). The study aimed at answering (a) whether patients were able to demonstrate learning of cortical self-regulation, (b) if treatment leads to an improvement in cognition and behavior and (c) if the two experimental groups differ in cognitive and behavioral outcome variables. SCP participants were trained to produce positive and negative SCP-shifts while the Theta/Beta participants were trained to suppress Theta (4-8 Hz) while increasing Beta (12-20 Hz). Participants were blind to group assignment. Assessment included potentially confounding variables. Each group was comprised of 19
children with ADHD (aged 8-13 years). The treatment procedure consisted of three phases of 10 sessions each. Both groups were able to intentionally regulate cortical activity and improved in attention and IQ. Parents and teachers reported significant behavioral and cognitive improvements. Clinical effects for both groups remained stable six months after treatment. Groups did not differ in behavioural or cognitive outcome.
 
Egner et al, 2004.  The effects of neurofeedback training on the spectral topography of the electroencephalogram. Clin. Neurophysiol., 115(11): 2452-2460OBJECTIVE: To investigate the impact of EEG frequency band biofeedback (neurofeedback) training on spectral EEG topography, which is presumed to mediate cognitive-behavioural training effects. In order to assess the effect of commonly applied neurofeedback protocols on spectral EEG composition, two studies involving healthy participants were carried out. METHODS: In Experiment 1, subjects were trained on low beta (12-15 Hz), beta1 (15-18 Hz), and alpha/theta (8-11 Hz/5-8 Hz) protocols, with spectral resting EEG assessed before and after training. The specific associations between learning indices of each individual training protocol and changes in absolute and relative spectral EEG topography was assessed by means of partial correlation analyses. Results of Experiment 1 served to generate hypotheses for
Experiment 2, where subjects were randomly allocated to independent groups of low beta, beta1, and alpha/theta training. Spectral resting EEG measures were contrasted prior and subsequent to training within each group. RESULTS: Only few associations between particular protocols and spectral EEG changes were found to be consistent across the two studies, and these did not correspond to expectations based on the operant contingencies trained. Low-beta training was found to be somewhat associated with reduced post-training low-beta activity, while more reliably, alpha/theta training was associated with reduced relative frontal beta band activity. CONCLUSIONS: The results document that neurofeedback training of frequency components does affect spectral EEG topography in healthy subjects, but that these effects do not necessarily correspond to either the frequencies or the scalp locations addressed by the training contingencies. The association between
alpha/theta training and replicable reductions in frontal beta activity constitutes novel empirical neurophysiological evidence supporting inter alia the training's purported role in reducing agitation and anxiety. SIGNIFICANCE: These results underline the complexity of the neural dynamics involved EEG self-regulation and emphasize the need for empirical validation of predictable neurophysiological outcomes of training EEG biofeedback

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