Neurofeedback for ADHD
Updated: Feb 25, 2021
Neurofeedback has been used as a treatment for ADHD in clinics for over 40 years, and in some studies it has even been found to be as effective as medication in treating symptoms of inattention and impulsivity. It can be used together with other treatment options, such as behavioral therapy or medication.
People with ADHD have been found to have different brain wave patterns than those who don’t have the disorder. They often have more Theta (slow, drowsy, mind-wandering waves) activity than usual, and less Beta (fast, focused, problem-solving) activity than other people. Neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback, is a form of non-drug therapy which helps train the brain to change its activity patterns over time.
Neurofeedback uses an EEG device (a cap or headset) to read the patient’s brain waves and translate them into visual or auditory cues. The patient receives feedback in real time on his brain activity, so he can see or hear immediately when he’s focused or when his mind wanders. The feedback part of neurofeedback is usually a video or a game (for a peek at how the Myndlift home neurofeedback system feedback looks, check out this video).
Since neurofeedback is a form of brain training, it requires persistence and regular training over time. The usual recommendation for a full course of therapy for ADHD is 30-40 sessions done twice or three times a week for 30 minutes each session. Patients usually start to see results after 8-10 sessions, and the full course of sessions is recommended to ensure that the results are long lasting. Neurofeedback doesn’t introduce any drug into the body or transmit anything, making it a very safe form of treatment. Most clients experience very few or no side effects.
A meta-analysis of studies of neurofeedback for the treatment of ADHD published in 2009 states that neurofeedback is an “Efficacious and Specific” (Level 5) treatment for ADHD, very effective in reducing symptoms of inattention and impulsivity and somewhat effective in lowering hyperactivity (source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19715181).
However, since many studies of neurofeedback therapy for ADHD have had methodological flaws (for instance: small sample sizes, different forms of neurofeedback, no control group, or not randomized), there are a number of large-scale studies currently underway trying to strengthen the body of research on neurofeedback and ADHD.