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How Effective Is EEG Neurofeedback Training in Treating the Symptoms of ADHD?

Many research studies have shown the overall effectiveness of stimulant medication, such as Ritalin and Dexedrine in their various forms, in treating the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders in children, teens, and adults. Even though stimulants are not the only effective option in the treatment of the disorder, stimulants may be a good choice, and their use should be discussed with your physician.

Below is a chart showing the effectiveness of EEG Biofeedback, or Neurofeedback training. This information is from a study by Rossiter and La Vaque which used the same protocols that we used in our clinical studies with ATTEND. They used the Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA) as the measuring instrument to determine change in performance after using either medications of EEG Biofeedback training for 30 days. The TOVA is a computerized Continuous Performance Test (CPT) that has no placebo effective, and has no bias (such ahs you might see with parent rating scales).

A Comparison of EEG Biofeedback and Psychostimulants in Treating Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders. Thomas P. Rossiter, and Theodore J. La Vaque. Journal of Neurotherapy, 1, Summer 1995

With 30 days of EEG Biofeedback training the group improved in every category measured by the TOVA. They improved a great deal in their focused attention to a task (1.6 standard deviations); their self-control improved nearly one standard deviation (0.9 SD); their reaction time improved a bit (0.5 SD, which is still a statistically significant improvement on the TOVA); and their Consistency score, or Variability score, improved by the same 1/2 standard deviation.

These were good improvements. Perhaps not as big over all as the group that used stimulant medications, but still a significant improvement.

We like EEG Biofeedback training as an intervention, and we provided it in out clinic for seven years or so. The only downside that we'd warn parents about are:

(1) make sure that the person actually doing the treatment is well trained, as often the doctor or psychologist will turn the actual treatment over to a technician who barely knows what they are doing; and

(2) the treatments can come with a tall price tag. Shop around for a reasonably priced provider.

To learn more about your treatment options for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder visit the ADHD Information Library at http://www.ADD101.com.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of NewIdeas.net Incorporated.

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