Neurofeedback for ADHD treatment: What it is and how it works

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. It often leads to difficulty in paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which can create problems in academic, social, and professional contexts. While medication and behavioral therapy are the most common forms of treatment for ADHD, neurofeedback is a promising alternative that is gaining widespread popularity.

What is neurofeedback for ADHD?

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive method that monitors and trains brain activity. It involves measuring brain waves, analyzing them, and providing feedback to the individual through visual or auditory cues in real-time. Neurofeedback aims to improve the quality and stability of brain activity, which is associated with ADHD-like symptoms.

How does neurofeedback work?

The first step in neurofeedback for ADHD is to identify problematic brainwave patterns through electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings. These patterns are then targeted for training, and the individual is provided with real-time feedback regarding their brain activity.

As the individual practices controlling their brain activity, they learn to regulate their behavior and improve cognitive function. Over time, the individual’s brain wave patterns become more stable, leading to a reduction in ADHD symptoms.

Benefits of neurofeedback for ADHD

Several studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of neurofeedback in managing ADHD symptoms. The results have shown that neurofeedback can:

  • Improve attention and focus
  • Reduce impulsivity
  • Manage hyperactivity
  • Improve academic performance
  • Reduce medication reliance
Types of neurofeedback for ADHD

There are several types of neurofeedback, but the most commonly used methods for ADHD treatment are:

  1. Theta/Beta training: This method trains individuals to increase their Beta brain waves (associated with focus and attention) while decreasing their Theta brain waves (associated with daydreaming and drowsiness).
  2. Sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) training: This method involves increasing SMR brain waves (associated with calm and relaxation) while decreasing Theta brain waves.
Neurofeedback versus medication for ADHD

While medication remains the most effective treatment for ADHD, it is associated with several adverse effects, including loss of appetite, headaches, and sleep problems. Additionally, medication is often expensive and requires a prescription.

Neurofeedback, on the other hand, is a non-invasive method that does not have any physical side effects. It is also affordable and can be done without a prescription. It provides individuals with a sustainable solution that can reduce or eliminate the need for medication for ADHD.

The Neurofeedback process

The neurofeedback training process for ADHD typically involves the following steps:

  • Assessment: A quantitative EEG (qEEG) is conducted to identify the brain areas and frequencies that require training.
  • Training: The individual is seated in front of a computer screen, where they receive visual or auditory feedback based on their brain activity.
  • Progress Monitoring: Progress is monitored through EEG recordings, and training protocols may be adjusted accordingly.
  • Follow-Up: Follow-up sessions are scheduled to maintain progress and address any new concerns or symptoms that may arise.

How long does it take to see results?

The duration of neurofeedback training for ADHD varies depending on the individual’s needs and responsiveness to treatment. However, most individuals require 20-40 sessions, with each session lasting between 30-60 minutes.

Results may be observed as early as 10 sessions, but some individuals may require more. The key to success with neurofeedback is consistency and persistence.

Conclusion

Neurofeedback is a promising alternative to traditional ADHD treatment. While medication and behavioral therapy remain the standard treatment options, neurofeedback offers a non-invasive, cost-effective, and sustainable solution that does not have any physical side effects.

Research has shown that neurofeedback improves attention, reduces impulsivity, and manages hyperactivity. The process involves assessing the individual’s brainwave patterns, training them to regulate their behavior, and monitoring their progress over time.

While individual results may vary, neurofeedback offers a personalized and effective approach to managing ADHD symptoms. If you are interested in neurofeedback for ADHD treatment, consult a qualified neurofeedback practitioner to get started.

FAQs

What is Neurofeedback therapy for ADHD?

Neurofeedback is a type of therapy that utilises EEG technology to help individuals with ADHD improve their focus, attention, and behaviour by providing real-time feedback on their brain activity. This treatment method is non-invasive, drug-free and has been shown to be effective in managing symptoms of ADHD.

Can Neurofeedback help with other conditions besides ADHD?

Yes, Neurofeedback therapy has shown promising results in helping individuals with other conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and sleep disorders. The therapy works by training the brain to self-regulate and function more efficiently, which can result in improved functioning in numerous areas.

What can I expect during a Neurofeedback session?

During a Neurofeedback session, electrodes are placed on the scalp to monitor brain activity. The individual will then complete a series of tasks or exercises that are designed to encourage brainwave patterns associated with focused, calm attention. The EEG program then provides feedback to the individual in the form of visual and auditory cues to help them increase these beneficial brainwave patterns. Neurofeedback sessions are usually completed over a series of weeks, with progress being monitored and adjusted accordingly by the therapist.


References

1. Arns, M., Heinrich, H., & Strehl, U. (2014). Evaluation of neurofeedback in ADHD: The long and winding road. Biological Psychology, 95, 108-115. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2013.11.013

2. Loo, S. K., & Barkley, R. A. (2005). Clinical utility of EEG in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Applied neuropsychology, 12(2), 64-76. doi: 10.1207/s15324826an1202_1

3. Wójcik, M., & Kaiser, J. (2015). Empirical evaluation of the efficacy of EEG neurofeedback treatment in a hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Applied psychophysiology and biofeedback, 40(1), 27-37. doi: 10.1007/s10484-014-9274-3