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New Review of Neurofeedback Treatment for ADHD — Current State of the Science

neurofeedback adhd reviewsNeu­ro­feed­back — also known as EEG Biofeed­back — is an approach for treat­ing ADHD in which indi­vid­u­als are pro­vid­ed real-time feed­back on their brain­wave activ­i­ty and taught to alter their typ­i­cal EEG pat­tern to one that is con­sis­tent with a focused and atten­tive state. Accord­ing to neu­ro­feed­back pro­po­nents, this often results in improved atten­tion and reduced hyperactive/impulsive behav­ior.

Sev­er­al years ago I sum­ma­rized the sci­en­tif­ic sup­port for neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment — see here — and not­ed that Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Development in the first 20 years: A Child’s and Teenager’s Brain

(Editor’s Note: What fol­lows is an excerpt from Dr. Robert Sylwester’s new book, A Child’s Brain. The Need for Nur­ture (2010) Cor­win. In this excerpt, Robert Syl­west­er syn­the­sizes the first 20 years of devel­op­ment and shows how it can be viewed as a “rhyth­mic four-six-four-six-year devel­op­men­tal sequence”)

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Chap­ter 4: Devel­op­ment and Growth.

The First 20 years.

To sim­pli­fy a com­plex phe­nom­e­non, we can divide our 20-year devel­op­men­tal tra­jec­to­ry into two peri­ods of approx­i­mate­ly 10 years each. The devel­op­men­tal peri­od from birth to about age 10 focus­es on learn­ing how to be a human being – learn­ing to move, to com­mu­ni­cate, and to mas­ter basic social skills. The devel­op­men­tal peri­od from about 11 to 20 focus­es on learn­ing how to be a pro­duc­tive repro­duc­tive human being – plan­ning for a voca­tion, explor­ing emo­tion­al com­mit­ment and sex­u­al­i­ty, and achiev­ing auton­o­my.

The first four years of each of these two decade-long devel­op­ment peri­ods are char­ac­ter­ized by slow awk­ward begin­nings to a six-year nor­mal move toward con­fi­dence and com­pe­tence. For exam­ple, crawl­ing leads to tod­dling leads to walk­ing leads to run­ning and leap­ing.

We’ve designed our preschool, ele­men­tary school, mid­dles school, high school and ini­tial col­lege sys­tems around this rhyth­mic four-six-four-six-year devel­op­men­tal sequence. We tend to keep small chil­dren at home dur­ing their first four years to allow them to begin their devel­op­ment in a shel­tered fam­i­ly envi­ron­ment with­out state stan­dards and assess­ment pro­grams. They learn basic motor skills, how to talk, and how to get along with their fam­i­lies. In essence, they devel­op a basic under­stand­ing of how their shel­tered world works.

At about five years, we say, in effect, Read the rest of this entry »

Long-term effects of neurofeedback treatment for ADHD

Neu­ro­feed­back — also known as EEG Biofeed­back — is an approach for treat­ing ADHD in which indi­vid­u­als are pro­vid­ed real-time feed­back on their brain­wave pat­terns and taught to pro­duce and main­tain pat­terns con­sis­tent with a focused, atten­tive state. This is often done by col­lect­ing brain­wave, i.e., EEG, data from indi­vid­u­als as they focus on stim­uli pre­sent­ed on a com­put­er screen. Their abil­i­ty to con­trol the stim­uli, for exam­ple, keep­ing the ‘smile on a smi­ley face’, is con­tin­gent on main­tain­ing the brain­wave pat­tern being trained.

Neu­ro­feed­back sup­port­ers believe that learn­ing this dur­ing train­ing gen­er­al­izes to real world sit­u­a­tions and results in improved atten­tion and reduced hyperactive/impulsive behav­ior. Although a num­ber of neu­ro­feed­back stud­ies have yield­ed promis­ing results it remains some­what con­tro­ver­sial with some researchers argu­ing that lim­i­ta­tions of these stud­ies pre­clude firm con­clu­sions about the effec­tive­ness of neu­ro­feed­back from being drawn.

Last year I reviewed a par­tic­u­lar­ly well-con­duct­ed study of neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD — see my review here. The study was con­duct­ed in Ger­many and began with 94 chil­dren aged 8 to 12. All had been care­ful­ly diag­nosed with ADHD and over 90% had nev­er received med­ica­tion treat­ment. About 80% were boys.

Chil­dren were ran­dom­ly assigned to receive either 36 ses­sions of neu­ro­feed­back train­ing or 36 ses­sions of com­put­er­ized atten­tion train­ing. The com­put­er­ized atten­tion train­ing task was intend­ed to serve as the con­trol inter­ven­tion and pro­vid­ed equal amounts of time work­ing on a demand­ing cog­ni­tive task under the super­vi­sion of an adult; the inclu­sion of this con­trol con­di­tion is a real strength of the study.

The main find­ings were as fol­lows: Read the rest of this entry »

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