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Neurofeedback in ADHD: A single-blind randomized controlled trial


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Neurofeedback treatment has been demonstrated to reduce inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, previous studies did not adequately control confounding variables or did not employ a randomized reinforcer-controlled design. This study addresses those methodological shortcomings by comparing the effects of the following two matched biofeedback training variants on the primary symptoms of ADHD: EEG neurofeedback (NF) aiming at theta/beta ratio reduction and EMG biofeedback (BF) aiming at forehead muscle relaxation. Thirty-five children with ADHD (26 boys, 9 girls; 6–14 years old) were randomly assigned to either the therapy group (NF; n = 18) or the control group (BF; n = 17). Treatment for both groups consisted of 30 sessions. Pre- and post-treatment assessment consisted of psychophysiological measures, behavioural rating scales completed by parents and teachers, as well as psychometric measures. Training effectively reduced theta/beta ratios and EMG levels in the NF and BF groups, respectively. Parents reported significant reductions in primary ADHD symptoms, and inattention improvements in the NF group were higher compared to the control intervention (BF, d corr = −.94). NF training also improved attention and reaction times on the psychometric measures. The results indicate that NF effectively reduced inattention symptoms on parent rating scales and reaction time in neuropsychological tests. However, regarding hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms, the results imply that non-specific factors, such as behavioural contingencies, self-efficacy, structured learning environment and feed-forward processes, may also contribute to the positive behavioural effects induced by neurofeedback training.
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Neurofeedback in ADHD: a single-blind randomized controlled
Ali Reza Bakhshayesh Sylvana Ha
Anne Wyschkon Mohammad Javad Rezai
¨nter Esser
Received: 30 June 2010 / Accepted: 28 July 2011 / Published online: 13 August 2011
Springer-Verlag 2011
Abstract Neurofeedback treatment has been demon-
strated to reduce inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity
in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD). However, previous studies did not adequately
control confounding variables or did not employ a ran-
domized reinforcer-controlled design. This study addresses
those methodological shortcomings by comparing the
effects of the following two matched biofeedback training
variants on the primary symptoms of ADHD: EEG neu-
rofeedback (NF) aiming at theta/beta ratio reduction and
EMG biofeedback (BF) aiming at forehead muscle relax-
ation. Thirty-five children with ADHD (26 boys, 9 girls;
6–14 years old) were randomly assigned to either the
therapy group (NF; n=18) or the control group (BF;
n=17). Treatment for both groups consisted of 30 ses-
sions. Pre- and post-treatment assessment consisted of
psychophysiological measures, behavioural rating scales
completed by parents and teachers, as well as psychometric
measures. Training effectively reduced theta/beta ratios
and EMG levels in the NF and BF groups, respectively.
Parents reported significant reductions in primary ADHD
symptoms, and inattention improvements in the NF group
were higher compared to the control intervention (BF,
=-.94). NF training also improved attention and
reaction times on the psychometric measures. The results
indicate that NF effectively reduced inattention symptoms
on parent rating scales and reaction time in neuropsycho-
logical tests. However, regarding hyperactivity and
impulsivity symptoms, the results imply that non-specific
factors, such as behavioural contingencies, self-efficacy,
structured learning environment and feed-forward pro-
cesses, may also contribute to the positive behavioural
effects induced by neurofeedback training.
Keywords Biofeedback Neurofeedback
EMG biofeedback ADHD Single-blind
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is among
the most prevalent childhood disorders [1,2], affecting
approximately 3–5% of school-aged children [3,4]. Chil-
dren suffering from ADHD are diagnosed by the following
primary symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity and/or
impulsivity. European clinical guidelines for hyperkinetic
disorder recommend a multimodal treatment, encompass-
ing medication, cognitive-behavioural treatments and par-
ent training [5]. As reviewed by Barkley [6], Greenhill [7]
and Swanson [8], patients who respond to stimulants typ-
ically demonstrate improved performance and functioning
across multiple aspects of ADHD. The outcome of the
Multimodal Treatment Study for Children with ADHD [3]
suggests that while pharmacological treatments for ADHD
are effective in treating core ADHD symptoms, combining
such treatments with social skills and parent training
yielded additional improvements in secondary areas of
psychosocial functioning (e.g., learning, behavioural,
emotional, social and family problems) [9]. However, there
is no evidence that these clinical improvements continue in
A. R. Bakhshayesh M. J. Rezai
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities,
Yazd University, Yazd, Iran
S. Ha
¨nsch A. Wyschkon G. Esser (&)
Department of Clinical Psychology/Psychotherapy and Academy
of Psychotherapy and Intervention Research of Potsdam
University, Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 24/25, OT Golm,
14476 Potsdam, Germany
Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2011) 20:481–491
DOI 10.1007/s00787-011-0208-y
the absence of sustained, long-term treatment with stimu-
lant medication.
EEG biofeedback was developed as an additional or
alternative treatment option for children, proceeding from a
perspective that ADHD is a neurologically based disorder
limiting capacity for attention and behavioural control [10,
11]. Neurofeedback treatments within child and adolescent
psychiatry began about 30 years ago [12]. Two training
protocols—theta/beta training and training of Slow Corti-
cal Potentials (SCPs)—are typically used in children with
ADHD. Findings from EEG and Event-Related Potential
(ERP) studies provide the rationale for applying these
paradigms in ADHD. In the resting EEG (relaxed awake
state, usually with eyes closed), increased slow wave
activity (theta, 4–8 Hz) and/or reduced alpha (8–13 Hz)
and beta (13–30 Hz) activity, especially in central and
frontal regions, might be associated with ADHD (for
review, see [11,13]). This indicates cortical underarousal,
particularly in mixed subtypes [1422]. Thus, it seems
plausible that in a paradigm often applied in ADHD, the
goal is to decrease activity in the theta band and to increase
activity in the beta band (or to decrease theta/beta ratio) at
the vertex (electrode Cz), i.e., activating and maintaining a
state of cortical arousal (‘‘tonic activation’’).
In order to expand to the neurophysiologic heterogeneity
of ADHD, it should be mentioned that a second pattern of
excessive ‘‘beta’’ activity or ‘‘hyperarousal’’ over frontal
regions has also been found in patients with ADHD [e.g.,
16,23,24]. Indeed, EEG analysis has revealed increased
relative beta power, decreased relative alpha power and
decreased theta/beta power ratios compared to healthy
peers [25,26]. It is discussed whether these ‘‘ADHD’
patients constitute a different clinical syndrome.
Neurofeedback is a biofeedback method based on the
rationale that there is a relationship between surface EEG
and the underlying thalamocortical mechanisms responsi-
ble for its rhythms and frequency modulations [27]. As
reviewed by Sterman [28], variations in alertness and
behavioural control appear directly related to thalamocor-
tical generator mechanisms. The principle of NF is that
over time, participants learn operant control of their EEG
and change from an ‘‘abnormal’’ state to one resembling
that of typically developing children. This process is
thought to eventually remediate the symptoms associated
with ADHD [29]. Monastra et al. [25] conclude that EEG
biofeedback is ‘‘probably efficacious’’ for the treatment of
ADHD. Case studies and controlled-group studies of EEG
biofeedback have demonstrated beneficial effects on mea-
sures of intelligence, behavioural rating scales assessing
the frequency of the core symptoms of ADHD, comput-
erized tests of attention and QEEG measures of cortical
arousal for theta/beta training and SCP training [3035].
Comparisons with a gold standard treatment for ADHD
(stimulant medication) indicated that EEG biofeedback
yielded equivalent results [3638]. However, in the same
year as Monastra et al. [25], Loo and Barkley published a
review concluding that ‘the promise of EEG biofeed-
back as a legitimate treatment cannot be fulfilled without
studies that are scientifically rigorous’’ [19, p. 73]. The
main shortcomings they raised were the lack of well-
controlled, randomized studies, small group sizes and the
lack of proof that the EEG feedback is solely responsible
for the clinical benefit and not unspecific factors such as the
additional time spent with a therapist or ‘‘cognitive train-
ing’’ [11,19]. They also criticized the mixed multiple
intervention strategies and the disregard for long-term
Although many studies have confirmed the effect of
neurofeedback in ADHD treatment [for review, see 11,
3941], Heinrich et al. [11] recommended conducting
randomized controlled trials in future studies to disentangle
specific and unspecific effects of NF at the clinical level
(p. 12).
Controlled studies
In a meta-analytic approach, Arns et al. [41] summarized
two types of controlled studies: studies with passive or
semi-active control groups, such as waiting list control
group and cognitive training, and studies using an active
control group such as stimulant medication.
Overall, the study by Gevensleben et al. [42,43] is the
most methodologically sound study to date, including
randomization, a large sample size and a multi-centre
approach. This study showed a medium ES for hyperac-
tivity (ES =.55) and a large ES for inattention (ES =.97).
Only Gevensleben et al. [42] and Holtmann et al. [44] used
control groups that were thoroughly and equally trained in
an attention-demanding task (computerized cognitive
training) to control for unspecific effects in a randomized
design. Drechsler et al. [31] used a control group under-
going group therapy but failed to conduct randomization.
In all of these studies, neurofeedback compared to a semi-
active control group still had medium to large ES for
inattention and impulsivity, and small to medium ES for
hyperactivity (measurements: rating scale data for hyper-
activity and inattention and commission errors on a CPT
test as a measure of impulsivity). Computerized cognitive
training can be considered to be a suitable control, pro-
viding an equal level of cognitive training and client–
therapist interaction. But is it the best option?
Loo and Barkley [19] discussed NF as another form of
cognitive-behavioural training that merely happens to
employ electrodes placed on the head. They suggest that
the treatment effect may be related not to the electro-
physiology, but rather to the immediate, salient rewards
482 Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2011) 20:481–491
provided for successful performance, which are particu-
larly effective in ADHD children [45]. Doehnert et al. [46]
recommended testing mock—(placebo training, see also
[11]) or muscular feedback providing similar immediate
feedback to rule out such an explanation.
The present study
The present study aimed to control for unspecific effects
(e.g., the fact that training is an attention-demanding task)
and confounding variables (e.g., parental engagement,
motivational effects, [46]). More specifically, the aim was
to control for motivational aspects by using the same
immediate feedback scheme. Thus, we chose an innovative
single-blind randomized controlled trial: EMG biofeedback
training. EMG biofeedback and neurofeedback are con-
ceived as similarly as possible. From a methodological
perspective, a yoked-control design would be best to dis-
entangle specific and unspecific effects of NF, but such a
mock NF is limited by ethical considerations [39].
We hypothesized that improvements in the NF group
would exceed the treatment effects in the control group
(BF) regarding behavioural changes as rated by parents and
teachers, and improvement on cognitive performance (test
of attention). Moreover, we assumed that participants
receiving neurofeedback training improve their ability to
regulate their cortical activation over time, as represented
by decreased activity in the theta band and increased
activity in the beta band (i.e., decreased theta/beta ratio).
Thirty-eight children with hyperkinetic disorder, aged
6–14 years (M=9.34, SD =1.92), participated in this
study. Sample size was estimated to be large enough to
detect a medium effect size of f=0.25 for the within-
between interaction with a power of 0.8 (two-sided, 0.05
level of significance, G-Power assumes a medium effect
size for the within-between factor ANOVA interaction and
a correlation of 0.5 among the repeated measures, although
this sample (18 ?17) would be too small to reliably detect
a medium effect size of d=0.5 in terms of change scores
or outcome scores [42,68]). Informed consent was
obtained from the children and parents and in accordance
with the ethical standards of the 1964 Declaration of Hel-
sinki. The study was approved by the local ethics com-
mittee of the participating universities. The children were
recruited from the Institute of Psychotherapy and Inter-
vention Research at the University of Potsdam. The sample
consisted of children, who had:
(a) a primary diagnosis of hyperkinetic disorder (distur-
bance of activity and attention; ICD-10:F90.0) or
attention deficit without hyperactivity (ICD-10:F98.8),
(b) an IQ [80 (CPM, SPM), and
(c) no known neurological or gross organic diseases and
no hyperkinetic conduct disorders (ICD-10:F90.1) or
pervasive developmental disorders.
Children currently taking stimulant medication were not
excluded from the study, but their parents were asked to
keep medication levels constant throughout the training
period in order to avoid interference effects.
Design and procedure
Children were randomly assigned to one of the two treat-
ment groups (NF: n=18; BF: n=17, ratio NF-group, BF
group =1:1). Children and parents were not explicitly
informed about the randomized treatment conditions (NF
vs. BF). Pre- and post-treatment assessment consisted of a
structured standardized clinical interview [47] to determine
a diagnosis and assess comorbid conditions; parent and
teacher questionnaires about ADHD-related behaviours
(German ADHD Rating Scale, [48]), a paper-and-pencil
attention test (bp/d2, [54,55]), non-verbal intelligence tests
(CPM/SPM, [49]), continuous performance tests (CPT,
[52]) and standardized behavioural observations in the
classroom. Clinical diagnosis was confirmed by an inde-
pendent psychotherapist using the Diagnostic Checklist for
Hyperkinetic Disorders [48]. There were no significant
differences between the NF and BF groups on the demo-
graphic, psychological and clinical variables prior treat-
ment (see Table 1).
The treatment phase began immediately after pre-treat-
ment assessment. Both trainings consisted of 30 sessions
[50] (training period: September 2005–February 2007).
Treatment sessions were held 2–3 times per week. Addi-
tionally, a psychotherapist met with all parents twice per
month for a total of 4 sessions (psychoeducation, effective
instructions, rewarding desired behaviour, logical conse-
quences). Only the parents, whose child dropped out after 25
sessions, missed one appointment. Post-treatment assess-
ment was conducted by an independent psychotherapist.
Treatment phase
The treatment phase lasted 10–15 weeks and was identical
for both groups in terms of allotted time. Each session
lasted 30 min. Both groups experienced similar treatment
conditions except for the location of electrodes. The
interconnection between the device, body, computer, the
relevant software (Bio Trace?
) and the monitor screen
was explained. Children received instructions on a
Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2011) 20:481–491 483
computer screen to familiarize them with the exercises
based on their thoughts or relaxation and their concentra-
tion. Children were trained playing three different games:
smiley, monkey and ball (see Fig. 1). In the first game, the
children were asked to make the face smile and keep it
smiling for 3 min. Next, children played the monkey game.
Here, children received a point if they succeeded in making
the monkey climb a tree and eat some food. The goal of the
ball game was move a ball to the top of a pyramid, and to
keep it there until the ball blinked. There was a 30-s break
between the different games. Each game consisted of three
trials lasting 3 min each.
During the treatment sessions, the children’s success in
completing the exercises was reinforced. Once patients had
kept the face smiling or the ball blinking for at least two-
thirds of the exercises or had gained three points in one trial
in the monkey game, they were rewarded with a Smiley
voucher (token economy). After collecting three Smiley
vouchers, the child was given a small reward (toy or
chocolate). The treatment phase (i.e., therapy process,
feedback and rewards) was identical for both groups.
In the first 2 min of each session (first trial of the smiley
game), the baseline was determined, by measuring the
theta/beta ratio (NF) or the EMG amplitude (BF). During
the games, subjects received both positive auditory and
Table 1 Demographic and clinical characteristics of the NF group
and EMG biofeedback group: at the pre-training level, there were no
significant differences between the groups
Gender (boys/girls) 13/5
Mean (SD) 9.6 (2.2) 9.1 (1.6) n.s.
Range 7–14 6–12
Mean t-scores (SD) 50.7 (12.1) 53.2 (9.4) n.s.
Diagnosis (ICD-10)
Disturbance of activity
and attention (F90.0)
14 (78%) 15 (88%) n.s.
Inattentive type (F98.8) 4 (22%) 2 (12%)
Stimulant medication 4 (22%) 3 (18%) n.s.
Associated disorders 7 (39%) 2 (12%) n.s.
Conduct disorder (F92.0) 1 (6%) -(0%)
Emotional disorder 2 (11%) -(0%)
Enuresis 1 (6%) 1 (6%)
Motor skills disorder/
3 (17%) 2 (12%)
Dropouts are not included in the table
Fig. 1 Screenshots from the
different games for
Neurofeedback and EMG
Biofeedback: smiley, monkey
and ball
484 Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2011) 20:481–491
visual feedback. Children in the NF group were rewarded
when the theta amplitude (4–8 Hz) was below the baseline
while the beta amplitude (16–20 Hz) was above the base-
line. Children in the BF group were rewarded when
keeping the EMG amplitude below the baseline.
Theta/beta neurofeedback training
A Nexus
amplifier was used for neurofeedback training.
The connection between the electrodes and skin was con-
tinuously monitored throughout the session. Nexus uses DC
offset checking which is done online and does not interfere
with the signals, instead of using an impedance check which
interferes with the EEG signals. In order to reduce skin
impedance, an opaque adhesive paste (Ten20) was applied.
Artefacts were controlled automatically. The thresholds
were fixed (theta: 4–8 Hz, beta: 16–20 Hz). The present
study employed a theta/beta protocol; thus, active electrodes
were located on CPz and FCz, based on the international
10/20 system. The reference electrode was installed on the
mastoid ([21], p. 426 and [51], pp. 110–111). Children in the
NF group were instructed to use their concentration when
playing the different computer games.
EMG biofeedback training
In the BF group, electrodes were placed on the frontalis
musculature to measure EMG amplitudes. The children
were instructed to use relaxation in order to play the games.
Variables and measurement instruments
Behavioural ratings
Children’s behaviour was assessed by their parents and
teachers using the ADHD rating scale (FBB-HKS; [48]).
FBB-HKS is part of the Diagnostic System for Mental Dis-
orders in Childhood and Adolescence (DISYPS-KJ,[48]) and
based on the symptom criteria of ICD-10 and DSM-IV. The
scale is frequently used in Germany for evaluating medical or
cognitive behavioural treatment. The German ADHD rating
scale includes 20 items. The three subscales (a) Inattention
(9 items), (b) Hyperactivity (7 items) and (c) Impulsivity
(4 items) are all assessed for severity (severity score) and
experienced difficulties (problem score). Parents and teachers
assessed the behaviour of pre- and post-treatment. The FBB-
HKS severity scores, ranging from 0 to 3, constitute the pri-
mary outcome measures of this study.
Neuropsychological evaluation
Continuous Performance Task (CPT) The CPT [52]isa
computerized test used to measure selective attention,
attention duration and impulsive behaviours. The CPT
consisted of 400 stimuli (letters) that were presented at the
centre of the screen for 200 ms each, with an inter-stimulus
interval of 1,400 ms. Children were instructed to respond
to a target: letter O followed by the letter X (probabilities
for sequences O–X and O-not-X were 10% each). CPT
performance was measured by scoring reaction times of
hits, variability in reaction times, omission errors (relevant
stimuli neither seen nor reacted to) and commission errors
(irrelevant stimuli reacted to) [53].
Paper-and-pencil attention tests (bp/d2) The bp-test [54]
was administered to 6- to 9-year-old children and the d2-
test [55] to children older than 9 years. The bp-test is a
standard paper-and-pencil test for measuring short-term
selective attention originally standardized for 8-year-old
children [56]. The participant has to cross out target letters
(b and p) from among other letters (g, q, d and h). In total,
there are 12 lines of letters that are randomly ordered, and
the participant is given 25 s to complete each line.
In the d2-test, a paper-and-pencil test measuring focused
and selective attention, participants cross out target letters
on a worksheet, working line by line. The test has been
standardized and used for participants aged between 9 and
60 years. The participant is asked to cross out the relevant
stimuli (d with two lines) from among the irrelevant ones (d
with one, three or four lines and p). Fourteen lines of letters
are presented, and subjects are given 20 s for each line.
The following dependent variables were derived from
the tests: Correct (R): letters crossed out correctly, indi-
cating the participant’s speed. Omission errors (error 1, E1)
were scored for each target letter missed (b and p or d
letters not crossed out); and Commission errors (error 2,
E2): were scored for responses to non-target letters. In both
tests, total concentration scores were computed (bp-test:
Percentage of errors (E*100/R), d2: total of correct
responses minus the total number of commission errors).
A recent validation study of the bp-test with 150 6- to
11-year olds showed high reliability for correctness score
(Cronbach’s Alpha =.97), and good coefficients for error
score and percentage of errors (Cronbach’s Alpha =.87).
Moreover, concurrent validity (r
=.590 with d2) was
demonstrated [54]. Validity and reliability of the d2 have
been verified [55].
Data analysis
Psychometric tests and EEG data
Data were analysed by calculating repeated measures
ANOVA. EEG data were evaluated at three assessment
points. For all statistical procedures, significance was set at
Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2011) 20:481–491 485
Effect sizes
Effect sizes (d
,[57]) measure the magnitude of the
effect and vary from 0.2 (small effect) to 0.5 (medium
effect) and 0.8 (large effect). Klauer’s d
is computed as
the difference between d
and d
, as the effect size of
the post-treatment advantage for intervention corrected
for any pre-treatment group differences. As standard
deviation, the pooled deviation of both groups is used
EGþNGG 1ðÞs2
From the thirty-eight children with hyperkinetic disorder,
who were initially assessed and randomly assigned to a
training group, three children were excluded (NF: n=1,
BF: n=2) due to loss of motivation (n=2) or protocol
violation (n=1). One child dropped out after 25 sessions
but was treated like children with 30 completed sessions.
Hence, 35 children were included in the analysis.
EEG and EMG data elicited from treatment sessions
The 30 treatment sessions in both groups were divided into
three 10-session sections in order to provide a better
understanding of the observed change. Distorted data
caused by movement and muscle artefacts (thresholds were
fixed: theta 4–8 Hz, beta 16–20 Hz), electrode disconnec-
tion and computer breakdown were excluded. Table 2
shows the group means, standard deviations, the results of
one-way ANOVAs with repeated measures and the effect
sizes for theta/beta ratios and EMG amplitudes in the
neurofeedback and EMG biofeedback group, respectively.
For NF, the theta/beta ratio decreased significantly
across training for the smiley and the ball game. The BF
group shows a highly significant difference in the EMG
amplitude for baseline, the smiley and the ball game.
Additionally, EMG amplitude for the monkey game
decreased significantly, although the significance level
(95%) is lower than that of the other two training games.
German ADHD rating scales (parents)
With mean FBB-HKS total scores of around 1.5, ADHD
symptoms were moderately pronounced in both groups
prior treatment. Data were analysed by calculating 2
(92)—ANOVAs, with Treatment group (NF vs. BF) as
between-subjects variable and Time (pre- vs. post-treat-
ment) as within-subjects variable. There was a significant
main effect for Time: the total score as well as the sub-
scales decreased after treatment (see Table 3). Improve-
ment of the NF group in the FBB-HKS total score (primary
outcome measure) was superior to the EMG group
(F(1,33) =3.72; p=.062), but the interaction failed to
reach statistical significance. This effect reached a medium
effect size of -.77 (d
Table 2 Theta/beta ratios and EMG amplitudes (group means, standard deviations, ANOVA results) at baseline and three training conditions
(Smiley, Monkey and Ball) in the neurofeedback (n=18) and EMG biofeedback (n=17) group
Group Neurofeedback EMG biofeedback
TS M(SD) Treatment time ES (d
)M(SD) Treatment time ES (d
df F p df F p
BL-1 2.838 (0.567) 2 14,799*** .000 .62 8.281 (0.821) 2 10,850*** .001 .55
BL-2 2.854 (0.076) 7.920 (0.280)
BL-3 2.744 (0.073) 7.331 (0.543)
TC1-1 2.743 (0.102) 2 5,827* .011 .39 8.132 (1.092) 2 9,713*** .001 .52
TC 1-2 2.844 (0.086) 7.623 (0.372)
TC 1-3 2.694 (0.069) 6.940 (0.533)
TC 2-1 2.781 (0.133) 2 1,284 .301 .13 7.182 (1.078) 2 4,891* .020 .35
TC 2-2 2.785 (0.094) 6.936 (0.242)
TC 2-3 2.719 (0.117) 6.355 (0.477)
TC 3-1 2.769 (0.091) 2 4,785* .022 .35 7.315 (0.529) 2 10,217*** .001 .53
TC 3-2 2.801 (0.075) 6.964 (0.477)
TC 3-3 2.697 (0.064) 6.373 (0.487)
TS Training section, Mmeans, SD standard deviations, ES effect sizes, BL-1toBL-3baseline for the three sections of training, TC1-1 to TC1-3
training condition 1 (Smiley) for the three sections of training, TC2-1 to TC2-3Training condition 2 (Monkey) for the three sections of training,
TC3-1 to TC3-3training condition 3 (Ball) for the three sections of training; each section consisted of 10 consecutive sessions; * pB.05;
*** pB.001
486 Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2011) 20:481–491
The predicted Treatment 9Time interaction was sig-
nificant only for Inattention (F(1,33) =6.43; p\.05).
This effect reached a large effect size of -.94 (d
Moreover, there were no significant differences between
Treatment groups.
German ADHD rating scales (teachers)
The results of the ANOVA showed a significant effect of
Time for Inattention (NF: M
=1.42 ±1.12; M
0.92 ±0.81; BF: M
=1.06 ±0.78; M
=1.06 ±
0.53; F(1,33) =6.91; p=.013), Hyperactivity (NF:
=1.17 ±0.96; M
=0.69 ±0.64; BF: M
1.01 ±0.81; M
=0.86 ±0.59; F(1,33) =6.48; p=
.016) and total mean scores (NF: M
=1.38 ±0.74;
=1.04 ±0.53; BF: M
=1.38 ±0.57; M
1.31 ±0.57; F(1,33) =5.86; p=.021). There were no
significant differences between Treatment groups. The NF
group showed an improvement of up to 40%, whereas the BF
group showed less improvement on the primary ADHD
symptoms. There was no significant interaction between
Treatment group and Time. However, there was a significant
trend for Impulsivity (F(1,33) =3.574; p=.068). The
effect sizes showed larger improvements for the NF than for
the BF group.
Paper-and-pencil attention tests
Table 4displays the t-scores (mean scores), standard devi-
ations, effect sizes and results of the ANOVA. A 2 (92)—
ANOVA examined the effects of Treatment group and Time.
Higher t-scores represent better performance. There was no
significant effect of Treatment group. The results showed
significant improvements on all scales (speed, error and
total score) in the paper-and-pencil attention tests after
treatment. The Treatment group 9Time interactions
reached significance for all scales, indicating that NF group
improved more compared to the BF group. The medium to
large effect sizes support these results.
Continuous Performance Task (CPT)
In the Continuous Performance Task, low t-scores indicate
better achievement, representing high/fast performance,
functioning with high continuity, and few errors. Knye
et al. [53] show that commission errors are a particularly
sensitive measurement of impulsivity and inattention.
There were no significant differences between Treatment
groups. The ANOVAs showed significant differences in
commission errors between pre- and post-treatment
(F(1,33) =11.865; p=.002). There was also an expected
significant interaction between Treatment group and Time
for reaction time (F(1,33) =7.359; p=.011), with a
medium effect size of -.70 (d
). Overall, performance in
the BF group decreased, while performance of the NF
group improved after treatment. The effect sizes vary from
=-.32 (reaction time variability) to d
(reaction time).
The present study evaluated neurofeedback training com-
pared to biofeedback training in children with hyperkinetic
disorders, in order to gain further information about the
efficacy of neurofeedback. In contrast to previous studies,
the control treatment (i.e., biofeedback training) was
designed to resemble neurofeedback as closely as possible.
Furthermore, the present study attempted to construc-
tively rectify methodological issues of past studies by [19,
58]; obtaining multidimensional diagnosis of an indepen-
dent (blind) psychotherapist, using subjective and objective
Table 3 Parents’ rating GRS: the results of two-way ANOVA with repeated measures for the comparison of the neurofeedback (n=18) and
EMG biofeedback (n=17) group regarding hyperkinetic symptoms
Scale MT M(SD) Treatment time Treatment group Treatment group 9time ES (d
NF BF df F p df F p df F p
AD Pre 1.978 (0.789) 1.713 (0.583) 1 4.49* .042 1 0.70 .794 1 6.43* .016 -.94
Post 1.400 (0.614) 1.756 (0.667)
H Pre 1.289 (0.764) 1.147 (0.560) 1 17.76*** .000 1 0.00 .967 1 1.60 .215 -.51
Post 0.644 (0.440) 0.800 (0.602)
I Pre 1.650 (0.695) 1.594 (0.638) 1 18.08*** .000 1 0.17 .679 1 1.23 .275 -.39
Post 0.978 (0.506) 1.200 (0.899)
TS Pre 1.689 (0.641) 1.512 (0.469) 1 12.59*** .001 1 0.07 .796 1 3.72 .062 -.77
Post 1.072 (0.408) 1.329 (0.691)
GRS German ADHD rating scale, AD attention deficit mean score, Hhyperactivity mean score, Iimpulsivity mean score, TS total mean score,
Pre pre-test, Post post-test, MT measurement time, Mmean, SD standard deviation, ES effect size, NF neurofeedback group, BF EMG
biofeedback group, * pB.05; *** pB.001
Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2011) 20:481–491 487
outcome parameters (parent and teacher ratings, psycho-
metric tests, EEG/EMG data), a power-analysis-based
sample size and a randomized group assignment.
NF exceeded BF on one subscale (Inattention) of the
parent ratings, but not on any teacher ratings. The effect
sizes further indicate large improvement of attention
(parents) and medium improvement of hyperactivity (par-
ents) and impulsivity (teacher) in the neurofeedback group
compared to the control group. Overall, results of the
ADHD rating scales show significant improvements after
treatment on all subscales of parents’ and in three of four
subscales of teachers’ ratings.
Heinrich et al. [32], who employed a slow cortical
potential protocol (SCP), found ADHD rating scale score
decreased by a quarter. In our study, neurofeedback train-
ing reduced parent’s ratings by 39%, and teacher’s ratings
by 26%. The findings of the present study therefore cor-
roborate studies reporting the perceived alleviation of
symptoms as a result of the neurofeedback method assessed
via rating scales [30,33,36,38,59 among others].
The ANOVA results show some improvements in the
children’s performance in paper-and-pencil attention tests
(bp/d2) after treatment. As predicted, the neurofeedback
group outperformed the EMG biofeedback group on all test
parameters, with medium to large effects.
Overall, one of the four CPT indicators (commission
errors) improved significantly over time, indicating that all
children showed fewer impulsive reactions. Only one sig-
nificant interaction (RT) showed the hypothesized positive
change in NF compared to BF. The other non-significant
Treatment group 9Time interactions showed no advan-
tage of NF over BF. This was surprising, as Heinrich et al.
[32] found a decrease in impulsivity errors (CPT-OX) in
SCP neurofeedback training in a waiting list control group
As discussed in the previous studies, such unpredicted
results could be caused by inter-individual differences
(e.g., non-responders in neurofeedback training groups
[46]). Thus, training protocols have to be optimized to
select the best possible paradigm for an individual or a
certain clinical or spectral EEG profile subtype.
Another reason for non-significant differences between
different treatment groups might be the choice of control
group, which will be discussed next.
EMG biofeedback—a suitable placebo?
The chosen protocol offers advantages but also bears risks.
EMG biofeedback was used as the reinforcer-control con-
dition due to its similarity to neurofeedback. Treatment
conditions were identical for both Treatment groups
(computer games, duration of training, number of sessions,
rewards, diagnostic assessment and psychotherapist) except
for the placement of electrodes. Across groups, the child
was attended to by one therapist in a structured setting,
receiving continuous and consistent feedback [44]. To
further increase similarities between the treatment groups,
electrodes for BF were placed on the frontalis musculature.
Table 4 Paper-and-pencil attention tests and CPT (t-score): Speed, error, total scores and reaction time, variability and omission/commission
errors in the pre- and post-measurement comparing neurofeedback (n=18) versus EMG biofeedback (n=17)
Scale MT M(SD) Treatment time Treatment group Treatment group 9time ES (d
NF BF df F p df F p df F p
S Pre 42.67 (10.77) 43.24 (10.43) 1 76.5*** .000 1 1.8 .189 1 14.17*** .001 .88
Post 60.83 (11.00) 50.47 (14.00)
E Pre 51.56 (10.57) 51.76 (14.22) 1 11.23** .002 1 0.945 .338 1 4.39* .044 .68
Post 61.00 (6.64) 53.94 (13.71)
TCS Pre 47.50 (10.00) 46.29 (13.20) 1 31.75*** .000 1 3.91 .056 1 8.3** .007 .99
Post 63.50 (8.60) 51.47 (13.00)
RT Pre 59.72 (5.55) 60.29 (6.24) 1 \0.01 .959 1 3.29 .079 1 7.36* .011 -.79
Post 56.67 (7.67) 63.24 (7.06)
RTV Pre 50.83 (8.27) 49.41 (8.27) 1 3.14 .086 1 \0.01 .971 1 0.59 .450 -.32
Post 46.39 (8.01) 47.65 (9.03)
OM Pre 54.72 (9.31) 55.88 (12.65) 1 1.29 .264 1 1.88 .180 1 2.38 .133 -.54
Post 48.89 (10.08) 56.76 (14.25)
COM Pre 53.06 (11.26) 54.71 (9.92) 1 11.87** .002 1 3.59 .067 1 2.50 .123 -.70
Post 41.94 (10.73) 50.59 (9.33)
CPT Continuous Performance Task, MT measurement time, SD standard deviations, ES effect sizes, NF Neurofeedback group, BF EMG
biofeedback group, Sspeed, Eerror, TCS total concentration score, RT reaction time, RTV reaction time variability, OM omission error, COM
commission error, Pre pre-test, Post post-test; * pB.05; ** pB.01; *** pB.001
488 Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2011) 20:481–491
Additionally, BF, compared to a waiting list control group,
offers control over effects of therapy expectations. As
spontaneous remission of ADHD is unlikely, one might
risk instead a high percentage of drop-outs within the
waiting group.
There are conflicting results in the application of
relaxation/EMG biofeedback in ADHD that poses the
question, whether EMG biofeedback is really just a control
condition. In the seventies and eighties, studies demon-
strated in part the efficacy of relaxation training in the
treatment of hyperkinetic disorders, particularly in the
reduction of restlessness ([60], for review, see [61]). Cobb
and Evans [62] concluded that there was no evidence that
biofeedback was superior to ‘‘more conventional treat-
ments’’ in learning or behavioural disorders. Omizo and
Michael [63] randomly assigned hyperactive boys, aged
10–12 years, to either four sessions of EMG biofeedback-
induced relaxation (n=16) or sham treatment (n=16) of
equal length. The relaxation induced significant improve-
ments in attention and impulsivity compared to sham con-
trol (ES =1.0–1.3, p\0.01). Despite these encouraging
results, EMG biofeedback was not applied in more recent
studies in ADHD treatment. In the present single-blind study,
BF group showed significant reduction in hyperactivity
=1.15 ±0.56 vs. M
=0.8 ±0.60, t(16) =1.84,
p=.05) and impulsivity (M
=1.59 ±0.63 vs.
=1.20 ±0.90; t(16) =1.91, p=.05) in parent rat-
ings. This could be one reason for the lack of significant
group differences in those ADHD symptoms. Maybe the
ongoing DFG-funded study on ADHD and Peripheral
electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback at the Central
Institute of Mental Health (Germany, Dr. Holtmann) can
address this question in detail.
Methodological considerations
The following shortcomings of our study should also be
mentioned: uniform treatment of all children without tak-
ing into account individual neurophysiologic profiles, the
combination with medication and lack of follow-up.
Although 6-month follow-up measurement was conducted,
the results were not published in this paper. Concerning
medication, there were no pre-testing differences between
both groups, but non-specific effects might be possible
Neurofeedback training improved hyperkinetic symptoms
overall, but we were unable to prove that the effects of
neurofeedback training were superior to those of EMG
biofeedback training with regard to hyperactivity and
impulsivity symptoms on rating scales. Specific improve-
ments were found for inattention symptoms on parent rat-
ing scales and for reaction time in neuropsychological tests.
Comparable benefits, specifically on scales of cognitive
regulation (inattention and metacognitive abilities), were
found by Drechsler et al. [31], but they did not detect any
advantage for behavioural regulation (e.g., inhibitory con-
trol, hyperactivity) for the feedback training compared to a
group training programme. Heywood and Beale [64] used
sham treatment in a single-blind uncontrolled case study,
revealing possible placebo effects in EEG biofeedback
treatment in ADHD. Children and parents were aware that
some biofeedback sessions would not be the ‘‘real’’ bio-
feedback, but they were unaware which sessions were
placebo sessions. The primary finding of this study was that
when all seven participants were included in analyses
controlling for overall trends, EEG biofeedback was no
more effective than a placebo control condition involving
non-contingent feedback, and neither procedure resulted in
improvements relative to baseline levels. This is in line
with Logeman et al. [65], who incorporated a sham group-
controlled double-blind design with 27 students to control
for unspecific effects and to investigate the effect of neu-
rofeedback above placebo. No interaction proved to be
significant at the behavioural level. The findings suggest
that neurofeedback may have no effect on behaviour when
accounting for unspecific factors. However, the specific
form of neurofeedback and application of the design may
have diminished the effect of neurofeedback.
It should be discussed whether the therapeutic alliance
itself may be the factor that results in a change in brain-
wave activity [66]. Other extraneous factors include
behavioural contingencies, self-efficacy, relaxation, struc-
tured learning environment, routines and feed-forward
processes like constructing response strategies [64].
Future directions
An important aspect for future research will be to identify
predictors and mediators of response and to clarify the
complex relationship between non-specific factors and
specific effects of neurofeedback. One step towards this
goal was to discuss EMG biofeedback as an innovative
condition, to control for the amount of feedback and
reinforcement. Hyperactivity could potentially be posi-
tively affected by EMG biofeedback and relaxation train-
ing [67]. Therefore, it would be beneficial to find a neutral
approach, which should not, however, reduce the similar-
ities between the two methods. For example, in the placebo
group, a pre-recorded ‘‘average’’ neurofeedback session
might be used. Additionally, in order to enable the transfer
into children’s daily life, neurofeedback should be
Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2011) 20:481–491 489
embedded within school-related activities [51]. The current
study attempted this for part of the training, but docu-
mentation was insufficient for empirical analysis.
Conflict of interest The authors declare that they have no conflict
of interest.
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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2011) 20:481–491 491
... Some studies have examined the effects of NF training focused on suppressing the theta waves and enhancing the beta waves activities (i.e., to lower the high theta-to-beta ratio) in children with ADHD. Results demonstrated that theta/beta waves NF protocol had benefits for attention problems in children with ADHD [50][51][52][53][54][55][56]. ...
... Theta/beta waves NF protocol was the treatment for the Intervention group in all included studies. Regarding the treatment for the comparison groups, one study had a waitlist control group which received the same treatment as the Intervention group after the waiting period [30]; three studies received conventional treatment such as treatment as usual (TAU) [80], attention skills training [77], and behavioural training [56]; two studies [52,79] involved physical activities such as yoga; eight studies [51,52,56,76,78,81,83,84] used stimulant medication (methylphenidate); seven studies used other types of NF protocols such as slow cortical potential NF [53,77], sensorimotor rhythm-based neurofeedback training (SMR-based NF) [86], theta/alpha waves neurofeedback training [85], EMG-biofeedback [50,55]; and sham neurofeedback [75]; three studies [51,76,84] involved combined theta/beta waves NF and stimulant medication; and two studies [79,84] received no treatment (Table 1). ...
... All except three studies [76,79,85] had reported the number of boys and girls separately, the boys-to-girls ratio was 3.29 [boys (n) = 665; girls (n) = 202]. Regarding the use of stimulant medication during the study period, nine studies [51, 52, 56, 76-78, 81, 84, 85] reported that all children of the Intervention group were medication naïve; four studies [50,80,83,86] reported children were asked to keep the medication levels constant during study period; two studies [55,75] had asked children to suspend the use of stimulant medication at least 2 days before the major assessments; one study [30] reported the number of children continued and the number of children discontinued to use stimulant medication during the study period separately; two studies [53,82] only reported the number of children who were on stimulant medication before the start of study but had not provided any information about children's medication condition during the study period; and one study [79] had not reported any information regarding children's use of stimulant medication. For comorbidities, all except two studies [79,84] had reported the comorbid conditions of children. ...
Full-text available
Neurofeedback training is a common treatment option for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Given theta/beta-based neurofeedback (T/B NF) training targets at the electrophysiological characteristics of children with ADHD, benefits for attention may be expected. PsycINFO, PubMed, ScienceDirect, Scopus, and Web of Science were searched through December 31, 2020. Studies were evaluated with Risk of Bias tools. Within-group effects based on Pre- and Post-treatment comparisons of the Intervention Group, and Between-group effects based on the between-group differences from Pre-treatment to Post-treatment were calculated. Nineteen studies met selection criteria for systematic review, 12 of them were included in meta-analysis. Within-group effects were medium at Post-treatment and large at Follow-up. Between-group analyses revealed that T/B NF was superior to waitlist control and physical activities, but not stimulant medication. Results showed that T/B NF has benefits for attention in children with ADHD, however, cautions should be taken when interpreting the findings.
... Also, it was found evidence of comparative effectiveness of NF and CogT for children with ADHD. As other studies point out, NF is a treatment with great benefits due to its positive and lasting effect on symptoms [3], significantly improving behaviour, attention, IQ [36,37], and reaction times on the psychometric measures such as hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms [37]. ...
... Also, it was found evidence of comparative effectiveness of NF and CogT for children with ADHD. As other studies point out, NF is a treatment with great benefits due to its positive and lasting effect on symptoms [3], significantly improving behaviour, attention, IQ [36,37], and reaction times on the psychometric measures such as hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms [37]. ...
... It seems that the NF is related to a reduction in theta waves, although the results were not clear. Literature also shows divergences, some authors found significant individual learning curves for both theta and beta over the course of the intervention, although individual learning curves were not significantly correlated with behavioral changes [37,40]. Other authors provided evidence that children with ADHD learned to decrease theta/beta ratio during NF sessions being the learning effects mainly attributable to the increase in the power of the beta waves both, in the group level sessions and in the individual level sessions. ...
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Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most frequent neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood and adolescence. Choosing the right treatment is critical to controlling and improving symptoms. An innovative ADHD treatment is neurofeedback (NF) that trains participants to self-regulate brain activity. The aim of the study was to analyze the effects of NF interventions in children with ADHD. A systematic review was carried out in the CINAHL, Medline (PubMed), Proquest, and Scopus databases, following the PRISMA recommendations. Nine articles were found. The NF improved behavior, allowed greater control of impulsivity, and increased sustained attention. In addition, it improved motor control, bimanual coordination and was associated with a reduction in theta waves. NF combined with other interventions such as medication, physical activity, behavioral therapy training, or attention training with brain–computer interaction, reduced primary ADHD symptoms. Furthermore, more randomized controlled trials would be necessary to determine the significant effects.
... Traditionally, the focus of treatment has been based on a "conditioning and repair model" [242]. Treatment aims to address dysfunctions and see behavioural improvement and remediation of symptoms following NF application [243]. Skill acquisition and learning are implicit, automatic, and unconscious. ...
... In this model, self-regulation, or neuro-regulation, is defined as explicit learning of controlled cognitive processes of cortical regulation evidenced by normalised shifts in EEG amplitudes [242,248,249]. Performance optimisation is evidenced by improved skill in changing the "EEG state" via self-initiated effort during task performance [243,250]. The therapist's role is to use cognitive behavioural therapy elements such as positive feedback and coaching and operant procedures as active support within treatment sessions to enhance self-efficacy and self-confidence to support neuro-regulation [244,251]. ...
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Psychological theory and interpretation of research are key elements influencing clinical treatment development and design in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Research-based treatment recommendations primarily support Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), an extension of the cognitive behavioural theory, which promotes a deficit-focused characterisation of ADHD and prioritises symptom reduction and cognitive control of self-regulation as treatment outcomes. A wide variety of approaches have developed to improve ADHD outcomes in adults, and this review aimed to map the theoretical foundations of treatment design to understand their impact. A scoping review and analysis were performed on 221 documents to compare the theoretical influences in research, treatment approach, and theoretical citations. Results showed that despite variation in the application, current treatments characterise ADHD from a single paradigm of cognitive behavioural theory. A single theoretical perspective is limiting research for effective treatments for ADHD to address ongoing issues such as accommodating context variability and heterogeneity. Research into alternative theoretical characterisations of ADHD is recommended to provide treatment design opportunities to better understand and address symptoms.
... Also, nonpharmacological treatment has always been welcomed by practitioners who are looking for ways to change steadily and have more lasting effects. Among nonpharmacological treatments, neurofeedback treatment (NFB) has been utilized as a potentially successful intervention for years (Aggensteiner et al., 2019;Alegria et al., 2017;Bakhshayesh et al., 2011;Geladé et al., 2018;Gevensleben et al., 2009;Lansbergen et al., 2011;Lévesque et al., 2006;Liechti et al., 2012;Lofthouse et al., 2012;Maurizio et al., 2014;Meisel et al., 2014;Minder et al., 2018;Mohammad Ali et al., 2011;Mohammadi et al., 2015;Rubia et al., 2019;Shereena et al., 2019;Strehl et al., 2006). Maurizio et al., 2014 provide evidence for some specific effects in their research sample. ...
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To evaluate the evidences related to the effectiveness of neurofeedback treatment for children and adolescent with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) based on the most-proximal raters. A systematic review of randomized control trials (RCTs) was carried out across multiple databases. the primary outcome measure was the most proximal ratings of ADHD symptoms in subjects. Conner's Parent Rating Scale (CPRS), Conner's Teacher Rating Scale (CTRS), and ADHD Rating Scale (ADHD-RS- are considered as primary outcomes. Seventeen trials met inclusion criteria (including 1211 patients). Analysis showed that there was no significant benefit of neurofeedback treatment compared with other treatments or control conditions [weighted mean difference/CI = HI-P: -0.02 (-0.26, 0.21), HI-T: 0.01 (-0.46, 0.48), weighted mean difference/CI = I-P: 0.00 (-0.23, 0.23), I-P: 0.12 (-0.14, 0.38)]. The results provide preliminary evidence that neurofeedback treatment is no efficacious clinical method for ADHD and suggest that more RTCs are needed to compare common treatment .
... For a statistical pattern of the learning curve, when the number of repetitions is increased, there is a stagnation of learning the task [11], [12]. Results of the theta/beta NF for ADHD patients illustrated an increment in performance during the beginning of the training phase, a stagnation in the middle training phase, and a subsequent increase in the final training phase [13]. A flattening of the learning curve following a strong initial improvement also reported in the NF for treating tinnitus [14]. ...
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Neurofeedback (NF) training is a type of online biofeedback in which neural activity is measured and provided to the participant in real time to facilitate the top-down control of specific activation patterns. To improve the training efficiency, an investigation on the learning of EEG regulation and effect on neural activity during NF is critical. This paper attempts to analyze the learning curve and the dynamics of the phase locking value (PLV)-based brain network for a short time EEG-based NF, in which 28 participants carried out alpha down-regulating NF training in 2 consecutive days. The results reveal that participants could successfully construct the related learning network to achieve the training goals in the first day training and the beginning of the second day training. Moreover, the learning plateaus were discovered from the results of the relative amplitude and the functional brain network in the middle of the second day training. These findings could be helpful for better understanding of the learning process in NF from the functional connectivity viewpoint and would contribute to building a more efficient learning protocol for NF training.
... which was also used to determine that this study required a Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test (two groups) analysis with an effect size of 0.62, a power of 0.8, and a significance level of 0.05, which resulted in the requirement for a total sample size of at least 78 students (group 1 = 26, group 2 = 52). The effect size of 0.62 was chosen based on a previous research study on the baseline of neurofeedback among ADHD children [28]. In the current study, the sample size requirement was met as 83 students were enrolled. ...
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Although digital media usage is prevalent among middle school students, the safety of digital media-based learning activities for students at risk of digital media addiction is unknown. The goal of this study was to evaluate the differences in students’ brain activity in relation to their risk of digital media addiction. The study was quasi-experimental, with a pre- to post-test control group design. The study participants included 83 middle school students who were engaged in digital learning. We measured their brainwaves to evaluate brain activity using a PolyG-I (LAXTHA Inc.). We found no statistically significant differences in the location of the attention index between the two groups before and after digital learning. However, there were statistically significant differences between the two groups in the P3, P4, and F4 locations of the relaxation index. These results indicate that students at risk of digital media addiction may experience learning difficulties. These results can be used to guide healthcare professionals in developing digital learning programs that are safe for students and to also verify the effects of these programs.
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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent disorders in children and adolescents. Neurofeedback, a nonpharmaceutical treatment, has shown promising results. To review the evidence of efficacy of neurofeedback as a treatment for children and adolescents with ADHD. A systematic review of the specific scientific studies published in 1995–2021, identifying and analyzing randomized controlled trials (RCT). A total of 1636 articles were identified and 165 met inclusion criteria, of which 67 were RCTs. Neurofeedback training was associated with significant long-term reduction in symptoms of ADHD. Though limitations exist regarding conclusions about the specific effects of neurofeedback, the review documents improvements in school, social, and family environments.
Background Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders of childhood. Treatment of ADHD includes medications and Behavioural interventions. Neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback, has been found to be useful in ADHD. It helps patients to control their brain waves consciously. However, it is not yet conclusive if it is efficacious in comparison to behavioural management training and medication. Aim To compare the efficacy of neurofeedback training, behaviour management including attention enhancement training and medication in children with ADHD. Method Ninety children between 6-12 years with ADHD were taken and randomly divided into 3 treatment groups equally- neurofeedback, behaviour management and medication (methylphenidate). Conners 3-P Short Scale was applied for baseline assessment. The respective interventions were given and follow up was done at the end of 3 months by using Conners 3-P Short scale to assess the improvement in the symptoms. There were 6 dropouts, the final sample size was 84. Results The medication group showed the greatest reduction of symptoms in inattention, hyperactivity, executive functioning domain (core symptoms of ADHD). No statistically significant difference was observed between Neurofeedback and Behaviour Management in these domains. Learning problems improved in all three groups, neurofeedback being the most effective followed by medication. Both Neurofeedback and Medication groups showed similar effect which was higher than the Behavioural Management group in Peer Relation. Conclusion Improvement in core ADHD symptoms have been observed with all 3 interventions with medication showing the greatest improvement Neurofeedback has been superior for learning problems. Thus, Neurofeedback can be an independent or combined intervention tool for children with ADHD in outpatient department of Psychiatry.
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The aim of this study was to monitor the activation during a neutral situation imagery (NSI) and a pressure situation imagery (PSI), based on the analysis of heart rate, brain waves and subjective ratings in athletes. The sample was made up of sixteen professional tennis players. Imagery protocols consisted of 3 phases; the first and the third involved being focused on their deep breathing (2 min.); the second, in the NSI, first service routine (17 sec.-1 min. 21 sec.) and in the PSI, a match pressure situation (2 min. 10 sec.). Results showed that both NSI and PSI increased heart rate. This increase was higher in the PSI and its highest point was at the maximum pressure moment: interval 5-6. In the case of brain waves, both NSI and PSI caused a decrease in gamma wave activity (intervals 3-8). In the PSI, there was also an increase in gamma waves in interval 5-6, the maximum pressure moment. Entropy was lower in the NSI. In regard to subjective ratings, in the psychological skills there were only significant differences in the PSI between pre- and post-activation at the during moment (pressure). In the imagery reality, olfactory and gustatory dimensions were the most difficult to perceive as real in the NSI and only the olfactory in the PSI.
Objective Possible beneficial effects of neurofeedback in improving ADHD functional outcomes have been increasingly reported. This meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the relationship between neurofeedback and executive functioning in children with ADHD. Methods PubMed, EMBASE, EBSCO, Web of Science, and Cochrane databases were searched to identify studies reporting the effects of neurofeedback on executive functioning, including response inhibition, sustained attention, and working memory, assessed by neuropsychological tests. Only randomized controlled studies of children aged 5 to 18 years were included using a random-effects model. Results Ten studies were included. The effects of neurofeedback were not found on three domains of executive functions. A meta-regression analysis revealed a trend of numbers of neurofeedback sessions positively associated with response inhibition ( p = .06). Conclusion Results did not show the benefits of neurofeedback on executive functions assessed by neuropsychological tests. Future studies should focus on standard neurofeedback protocols, the intensity of intervention, and neuropsychological outcomes.
The University of California, Irvine ADD Center recently conducted a synthesis of the literature on the use of stimulants with children with attention deficit disorder (ADD), using a unique “review of reviews” methodology. In this article, we compare three reviews from each of three review types (traditional, meta-analytic, general audience) and illustrate how coding variables can highlight sources of divergence. In general, divergent conclusions stemmed from variations in goal rather than from variations in the sources selected to review. Across quantitative reviews, the average effect size for symptomatic improvement (.83) was twice that for benefits on IQ and achievement measures (.35). A summary of what should and should not be expected of the use of stimulants with ADD children, derived from the literature synthesis, is provided.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a relatively common condition of childhood onset and is of significant public health concern. Over the past two decades there have been 19 community-based studies offering estimates of prevalence ranging from 2% to 17%. The dramatic differences in these estimates are due to the choice of informant, methods of sampling and data collection, and the diagnostic definition. This article provides a critical review of the community-based studies on the prevalence of ADHD in children and adolescents. Based on 19 studies reviewed, the best estimate of prevalence is 5% to 10% in school-aged children. The review also examines age and gender effects on the frequency of ADHD. The article closes with a discussion of psychosocial correlates and patterns of comorbidity in ADHD.
Recent years have seen tremendous advances in understanding and treating Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Now in a revised and expanded third edition, this authoritative handbook brings the field up to date with current, practical information on nearly every aspect of the disorder. Drawing on his own and others' ongoing, influential research - and the wisdom gleaned from decades of front-line clinical experience - Russell A. Barkley provides insights and tools for professionals working with children, adolescents, or adults. Part I presents foundational knowledge about the nature and developmental course of ADHD and its neurological, genetic, and environmental underpinnings. The symptoms and subtypes of the disorder are discussed, as are associated cognitive and developmental challenges and psychiatric comorbidities. In Parts II and III, Barkley is joined by other leading experts who offer state-of-the-art guidelines for clinical management. Assessment instruments and procedures are described in detail, with expanded coverage of adult assessment. Treatment chapters then review the full array of available approaches - parent training programs, family-focused intervention for teens, school- and classroom-based approaches, psychological counseling, and pharmacotherapy - integrating findings from hundreds of new studies. The volume also addresses such developments as once-daily sustained delivery systems for stimulant medications and a new medication, atomoxetine. Of special note, a new chapter has been added on combined therapies. Chapters in the third edition now conclude with user-friendly Key Clinical Points. This comprehensive volume is intended for a broad range of professionals, including child and adult clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, school psychologists, and pediatricians. It serves as a scholarly yet accessible text for graduate-level courses. Note: Practitioners wishing to implement the assessment and treatment recommendations in the Handbook are advised to purchase the companion Workbook, which contains a complete set of forms, questionnaires, and handouts, in a large-size format with permission to photocopy. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)(jacket)