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Can Neurofeedback Treat ADHD Disorders?

by learningdiscoveries on May 9, 2014

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is characterised by restless behaviour and inability to concentrate for extended periods of time. Although the condition is common in younger children, adults can also be diagnosed with ADHD. The disorder has a significant impact on quality of life.

Common symptoms include:

  •  Inability to concentrate on a single activity
  •  Constantly jumping between activities
  •  Difficulty in organising tasks
  •  Not paying attention to instructions
  •  Avoiding tasks that require mental efforts
  •  Feeling restless or in constant motion
  •  Not performing tasks to completion
  •  Being easily distracted or impatient

Symptoms vary depending on the extent of the disorder and the individual but can lead to academic difficulties for children which is why early diagnosis and remedy is important.

Neurofeedback Remedy Methods
Prescribing stimulant medication is a common remedy method for ADHD but come with a whole host of side effects. Another alternative that has shown to produce significant improvements for children diagnosed with ADHD is computer-based neurofeedback.

The procedure is a relatively safe and non-invasive procedure with far superior results compared to computer-based cognitive training (CT). A randomised controlled trial of elementary school students with ADHD reported fewer symptoms six months following computer-based neurofeedback remedy than those who only received computer CT.

The results are significant.

Neurofeedback involves hooking up the user to sensors which record and display brainwave patterns. The process trains users to increase their beta waves while suppressing theta waves. Feedback from the sensors and monitors are used as guides for the individual.

The idea is for children to learn control over their brain activity when performing a certain task. Researchers have found significant improvements in ADHD symptoms for groups that underwent neurofeedback remedy relative to control groups.

Another important finding from the study found that children on stimulant medication showed just as much improvement from neurofeedback remedy than children who were not on medication.

Martijn Arns, PhD, researcher in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands said, “Recent studies have demonstrated limitations of medication in the long term; hence, remedies that have more sustained effects in ADHD are much needed.”

Additional research is still necessary as the US Department of Health and Human Services indicates that neurofeedback remedy cannot yet be recommended as a substitute for medication use in ADHD.

However, neurofeedback continues to show a promising outlook for long-term remedy for children diagnosed with ADHD.

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Rosemary Boon

Registered Psychologist

M.A. (Psych),
Grad. Dip. Ed. Studies (Sch. Counsel),
Grad Dip. Ed. B Sc, Dip. Nut.

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