The effectiveness of EEG-feedback on attention, impulsivity and EEG: A sham feedback controlled study

Department of Experimental Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Neuroscience Letters (Impact Factor: 2.03). 07/2010; 479(1):49-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2010.05.026
Source: PubMed


EEG-feedback, also called neurofeedback, is a training procedure aimed at altering brain activity, and is used as a treatment for disorders like Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Studies have reported positive effects of neurofeedback on attention and other dependent variables. However, double-blind studies including a sham neurofeedback control group are lacking. The inclusion of such group is crucial to control for unspecific effects. The current work presents a sham-controlled, double-blind evaluation. The hypothesis was that neurofeedback enhances attention and decreases impulsive behavior. Participants (n=27) were students selected on relatively high scores on impulsivity/inattention questionnaires (Barrat Impulsivity Scale and Broadbent CFQ). They were assigned to a neurofeedback treatment or a sham group. (sham)Neurofeedback training was planned for 15 weeks consisting of a total of 30 sessions, each lasting 22 min. Before and after 16 sessions (i.e., interim analyses), qEEG was recorded and impulsivity and inattention was assessed using a stop signal task and reversed continuous performance task and two questionnaires. Results of the interim analyses showed that participants were blind with respect to group inclusion, but no trend towards an effect of neurofeedback on behavioral measures was observed. Therefore in line with ethical guidelines the experiment was ceased. These results implicate a possible lack of effect of neurofeedback when one accounts for non-specific effects. However, the specific form of feedback and application of the sham-controlled double-blind design may have diminished the effect of neurofeedback.

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    • "For instance , Arns et al (2012) classified each individual into a set of EEG clusters by a comparison to a normative database, and performed a different protocol according to the cluster (e.g., theta/beta, alpha or beta suppression , SMR enhancement). Lansbergen et al (2011b) and Logemann et al (2010) performed a theta/beta protocol combined with SMR enhancement, in which the feedback sensors and range of frequency bands were determined by a comparison to a normative database. The NF protocol herein proposed aimed at enhancing the relative upper alpha power in frontro-central sites, individually determined using the individual alpha frequency (IAF) as an anchor point. "
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    ABSTRACT: Standardized neurofeedback (NF) protocols have been extensively evaluated in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, such protocols do not account for the large EEG heterogeneity in ADHD. Thus, individualized approaches have been suggested to improve the clinical outcome. In this direction, an open-label pilot study was designed to evaluate a NF protocol of relative upper alpha power enhancement in fronto-central sites. Upper alpha band was individually determined using the alpha peak frequency as an anchor point. 20 ADHD children underwent 18 training sessions. Clinical and neurophysiological variables were measured pre- and post-training. EEG was recorded pre- and post-training, and pre- and post-training trials within each session, in both eyes closed resting state and eyes open task-related activity. A power EEG analysis assessed long-term and within-session effects, in the trained parameter and in all the sensors in the (1-30) Hz spectral range. Learning curves over sessions were assessed as well. Parents rated a clinical improvement in children regarding inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. Neurophysiological tests showed an improvement in working memory, concentration and impulsivity (decreased number of commission errors in a continuous performance test). Relative and absolute upper alpha power showed long-term enhancement in task-related activity, and a positive learning curve over sessions. The analysis of within-session effects showed a power decrease ("rebound" effect) in task-related activity, with no significant effects during training trials. We conclude that the enhancement of the individual upper alpha power is effective in improving several measures of clinical outcome and cognitive performance in ADHD. This is the first NF study evaluating such a protocol in ADHD. A controlled evaluation seems warranted due to the positive results obtained in the current study.
    Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback 09/2014; 39(3-4). DOI:10.1007/s10484-014-9257-6 · 1.13 Impact Factor
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    • "Furthermore neurofeedback in particular seems to induce the assumption that one is part of the placebo control. In previous placebo-controlled trials of neurofeedback, up to 80% of the participants of the neurofeedback groups estimated (after treatment) that they received placebo feedback [52,53]. As we have learned from one of our pilot studies [15] it takes time until children are able to self-regulate their brain activity. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common neurobehavioral disorder of childhood and has often a chronic course persisting into adulthood. However, up to 30% of children treated with stimulants either fail to show an improvement or suffer adverse side effects, including decreased appetite, insomnia and irritability and there is no evidence of long term efficacy of stimulants for ADHD. A series of studies has shown that neurofeedback is an effective additional or alternative treatment for children with ADHD, leading to e.g. significant and stable improvement in behavior, attention and IQ. Significant treatment effects of neurofeedback have also been verified in meta-analyses. Most of the trials, however, have been criticized for methodological difficulties, particularly lacking appropriate control conditions and number of patients included. This randomized study examines the efficacy of slow cortical potentials (SCP) -neurofeedback, controlling unspecific effects of the setting by comparing two active treatment modalities. Methods/Design A total of 144 patients with ADHD, older than six and younger than ten years, in some cases with additional pharmacological treatment, are included in this trial. In five trial centres patients are treated either with SCP-feedback or electromyographic (EMG) -feedback in 25 sessions within 3 months. A comprehensive test battery is conducted before and after treatment and at follow-up 6 month later, to assess core symptoms of ADHD, general psychopathology, attentional performance, comorbid symptoms, intelligence, quality of life and cortical arousal. Discussion The efficacy of SCP-feedback training for children with ADHD is evaluated in this randomized controlled study. In addition to behavior ratings and psychometric tests neurophysiological parameters serve as dependent variables. Further, the choice of EMG-biofeedback as an active control condition is debated. Trials registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN76187185. Registered 5 February 2009.
    BMC Pediatrics 08/2014; 14(1):202. DOI:10.1186/1471-2431-14-202 · 1.93 Impact Factor
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    • "Regarding statistical analysis, due to the limited sample size medium effects did not reach the level of significance. A larger sample would have been needed in order to delineate robust results instead of reporting results based on effect size measures, despite the sample size of the present study being comparable to previous peak performance NF studies (e.g., Egner and Gruzelier, 2004; Ros et al., 2009; Logemann et al., 2010; Doppelmayr and Weber, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Neurofeedback (NF) is being successfully applied, among others, in children with ADHD and as a peak performance training in healthy subjects. However, the neuronal mechanisms mediating a successful NF training have not yet been sufficiently uncovered for both theta/beta (T/B), and slow cortical potential (SCP) training, two protocols established in NF in ADHD. In the present randomized controlled investigation in adults without a clinical diagnosis (n = 59), the specificity of the effects of these two NF protocols on attentional processes, and motor system excitability were to be examined, focusing on the underlying neuronal mechanisms. NF training consisted of 10 double sessions, and self-regulation skills were analyzed. Pre- and post-training assessments encompassed performance and event-related potential measures during an attention task, and motor system excitability assessed by transcranial magnetic stimulation. Some NF protocol specific effects have been obtained. However, due to the limited sample size medium effects didn’t reach the level of significance. Self-regulation abilities during negativity trials of the SCP training were associated with increased contingent negative variation amplitudes, indicating improved resource allocation during cognitive preparation. Theta/beta training was associated with increased response speed and decreased target-P3 amplitudes after successful theta/beta regulation suggested reduced attentional resources necessary for stimulus evaluation. Motor system excitability effects after theta/beta training paralleled the effects of methylphenidate. Overall, our results are limited by the non-sufficiently acquired self-regulation skills, but some specific effects between good and poor learners could be described. Future studies with larger sample sizes and sufficient acquisition of self-regulation skills are needed to further evaluate the protocol specific effects on attention and motor system excitability reported.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 07/2014; 8:555. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00555 · 3.63 Impact Factor
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