Does It Work? A Look At The Research

Using EEG for ADHD relief and treatment is a relatively new phenomenon.

Electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback or neurofeedback/neurotherapy has, for the past 30 years, emerged as a nonpharmacological treatment intervention for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The brain produces different brainwaves for different cognitive activities such as when we are alert and focused, versus daydreaming or asleep.

Folks who suffer from ADHD have less activity in areas of the brain (pre-frontal cortex) that control attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

As a way to train the brain, neurofeedback teaches users to focus and to produce and maintain brainwaves of attention. During sessions, the subject learns to correct their lack of  focus which, with practice and time, can result in improved day-to-day functioning.

How It Works

An EEG provides a picture of your a brain's electrical activity. During the first session, the patient wears a cap or headset that measures brainwave activity, which is shown on a computer screen. This provides a normal or baseline brainwave picture from which to make future comparisons.

Then, while still attached to the cap or headset, the brain is engaged by different activities such as computer games which engage the brain in focused attention. Over time, the patient can begin to differentiate and control the different brain states such as when the brain is focused versus when it is not. This can correct the faulty brainwave activity that contributes to ADHD symptoms and behaviors.

Basically, neurofeedback is a learning process that strengthens the brain. In the case of ADHD patients, it teaches users how to control attention, behavior, and emotions.

The underlying concept is that the brain can be trained and brain functioning can be improved with practice. In that respect, it is similar to muscle training where use makes muscles stronger and neglect leads to atrophy.

eeg for adhd

The Research

Research in this area is ongoing, but appears positive. A study published by Lubar, et al. in the March 1995 issue of the Journal of Applied Psychophysiology And Biofeedback examined the use of neurofeedback in 23 children with ADHD from 8 to 19 years of age.

Following neurofeedback training, they found significant improvement in behavior as rated by parents. They also discovered significant increases in WISC-R (Wechsler Intelligence Scale For Children) scores following neurofeedback training.

In March 2003, the same journal published a study conducted by Fuchs et al., which reported that the use of neurofeedback training is as effective as Methylphenidate (Ritalin) medication in reducing ADHD symptoms of inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity.

In addition, the January 2005 Journal Of American Academy of Child And Adolescent Psychiatry reported that "research findings published to date indicate positive clinical response in approximately 75% of patients treated in controlled group studies" and recommended that more randomized, controlled trials be conducted to provide better estimates of the robustness of EEG treatment with respect to treating ADHD.

Conclusion About Using EEG For ADHD Relief

We give a thumbs up for using EEG for ADHD. Thus far, the research indicates that neurofeedback training can be an effective treatment for children with ADHD. Further, this is important information for parents who prefer not to medicate their children. 

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