The Forums Forums Tools, Techniques & Treatments Biofeedback/Neurofeedback

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  • BAM123
    #88246 |

    Does anyone know or have tried Biofeedback/Neurofeedback therapy for ADD? I am considering it and looking fior anyone who had experience, thanjs

    #92733 |

    Somebody asked that a few weeks ago:

    Bottom line is that nothing definitively positive has come of it over the past few decades and

    you will probably never find anybody with experience that can give you a reliably independent

    assessment on whether it works at all. There have always been a few who want it to work but

    it just doesn’t survive professional scrutiny and all indications are that it never will.

    #92734 |

    Here is the link to the ADD Centre located in Mississauga Ontario. Also, I believe there is a Toronto location.

    Amazing stuff. A book I should have written over a decade ago. This training really changed my son’s life for the better in the classroom and with friends. Our home life changed tremendously as well. . They showed me, scientifically, how my son’s brain was functioning differently to others of the same age group and sex. Seeing is believing.

    #92735 |

    I note that this is a small business with a plan that advises you to spend 60-70 sessions with them

    over 6 months or so. Obviously there’s a lot of money to be made and I’ll bet even money you’re not

    going to get support from any health insurance plan for this essentially homebrew approach.

    This solo doctor (It’s a one-woman show over there) may claim that a lot of research supports “NFB”

    claims, but even she can only point to a very short list of papers published over the past thirty years,

    some of which are only peripherally related to her assertion that “NFB” is an effective treatment.

    Any course of training, gadgets or not, is going to help you after several months of continuous effort

    because the whole idea behind all of them is to train up in skills to compensate for ADD symptoms.

    Play with that kind of thing if you want, because any training will help, but don’t expect that the extra

    gadgetry will put you ahead of the other types of training and don’t expect it to be cheap.

    Above all, don’t consider it a substitute for proper care by a trained and qualified psychiatrist who has

    both the training and authority to prescribe and maintain a proper course of medical treatment.



    I’m sure this Dr. Thompson would agree and hedge her bets against making strong claims in favour

    of “NFB” over properly managed psychiatric care. She is not technically qualified to carry out the same

    level of treatment even though she is a psychologist, has specialized in EEG tech and has worked up

    a training program that can possibly compete with coaching. Though she hasn’t posted the usual

    “we are not making medical claims” disclaimers on her website and surely knows better than to steer

    people away from the psychiatric profession, I have no doubt that the fine print on her contracts will

    clearly define her legal and medical limitations and protect her company and employees from most

    possible avenues of litigation and professional consequences which may arise.



    As I keep saying about it whenever asked, neurofeedback and biofeedback is a gimmick that can

    help with personal training but it doesn’t have a clear advantage over lifeskills training and coaching

    options, it cannot serve as a substitute for those options [unless it incorporates them as part of the plan]

    and there is no way it will ever be as effective as good and properly applied medication.

    The actual costs of using EEG sensors has dropped to the deck with the availability of inexpensive USB

    appliances and software for personal computers so I always suggest that you test drive it for yourself

    before plopping down the big bucks. The neurofeedback business may look impressive as presented to

    prospective customers but most of the fancy terminology and formalized procedures are merely well-

    polished handwaving over what is actually extremely simple technology to help one monitor the results

    as one carries out simple mental exercises of pretty much any kind involving concentration and relaxation.

    With a laptop and a minimal amount of expense and effort you could easily do all that for yourself and

    incorporate any kind of mental activity or training course as the active part of your program. Make it portable

    enough and you could even take it to a level beyond the commercial approach, such as getting to a black

    belt level in a martial arts course in the same amount of time. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to hear

    that an kit for just that sort of active training becomes available for PDAs or more advanced cell phones.



    It’s all about getting improved control over your own mind. Feedback can help but it’s not worth the money

    such a business asks for and it’s unlikely your health insurance would pay for it. It’s better for your health

    and budget to take courses that give you useful skills and add feedback on by yourself to help you focus.

    #92736 |

    Thank you Aaron! We think alike in the sense that I want something VERIFIABLE and scientific to help me out…thank you for pointing out all the aspects of this treatment!

    #92737 |

    The development of neurofeedback techniques as a treatment using electroencephalogram (ECG) recordings began around 1972 (Masterpasqua & Healey, 2003). Prior to the onset of new brain imaging techniques, neurofeedback (NFB) received a few negative reviews, associating the technique with fringe psychology movements which were soon abandoned. NFB now receives more focus through modern neuroimaging techniques which are better able to validate the clinical application of NFB as a diagnostic and treatment tool.

    The ability to carry out studies on the efficacy of NFB with the ability to generalize findings across a broad demographic is difficult. Randomized, controlled and long term studies are ideal. To date four studies with these criteria have been performed (2003). These studies have shown long term improvement in patients with ADHD in contrast to the use of medication alone (2003). Medication has shown to be useful in the short term, requiring constant administration, whereas NFB may provide a longer term dose response.

    Masterpasqua & Healey note that there is no conclusive evidence on the use of neurofeedback in the treatment of ADHD (2003). However, the use of neurofeedback demonstrates potential long term benefits worthy of further research (2003). The use of neurofeedback as an additional tool to ADHD strategies may provide viable option.

    NFB trains patients to recognize their thought patterns and attention levels using quantifiable measures. Personally, I would not write off NFB as a gimmick, given the clinical use of EEG techniques for many neurological disorders. However, any claim that an NFB treatment is enough in itself as a treatment warrants caution and critical examination. A few NFB sessions might help people to recogne their patterns of thought or anxiety and arousal levels. Compare this to when you were first tuned into the potential that you had ADD. Likely you begin to recognize the different levels of focus or thought patterns occurring in your mind each day, which may have daily task performance or attention modification.

    It is actually possible to measure your own alpha wave forms (relaxed brain waves) with a simple voltmeter purchased from a hardware store. There are also computer programs in development which train the ability to reach coherence and relaxed states. Such programs have nature scenes where flowers and trees grow, birds sing and so on, to greater levels based on the mind state you achieve. I have observed these programs in use and it seems like there is a great potential with this technology. Anyway, the above scientifically peer reviewed information is from the following paper I found with a quick search on the topic. No doubt being written in 2003, there are likely many more articles on the topic now.

    Funding is available for those with ADHD. This funding can be used for psychological fees, testing, student textbooks and tutoring and other uses. Check the Canadian government site for disability funding. Learning style assessments are very effective for improving your understanding of how your brain works. Check it out.

    Don’t take my word for it, read for yourself.

    Happy researching!


    Masterpasqua, F., Healey, N.H. (2003). Neurofeedback in Psychological Practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. American Psychological Association Vol. 34, No. 6, 652–656

    #92738 |

    I”m pretty sure Dr. Jain said at the event a couple weeks ago (or maybe it was here in a video?) that biofeedback didn’t really do anything for ADHD. Note – I have no opinion on it, just reporting what I remember.

    I could be wrong. I’m plenty good at wrong, y’know.

    Patte Rosebank
    #92739 |

    It sounds suspiciously like a quack cure to me. Minimal solid proof that it works, but the person providing the treatments claims to have a miracle cure.

    On top of that, the woman promoting the treatments is not a medical doctor (psychIATRIST), but a psychOLOGIST. To become a psychIATRIST, you have to qualify as a medical doctor first, then take several more years of study to become a specialist in psychiatry. To become a psychOLOGIST, you just need to complete a degree in psychOLOGY. You’re not a medical doctor, so you’re not able to prescribe medicines or medical treaments. If this psychOLOGIST is promoting these expensive, long-term, pseudo-medical treatments, I’d really be on my guard.

    It seems like any illness is an excuse for some people to see dollar signs and sell “cures” that are high on cost, but low on proof that they actually work.

    Penn & Teller (the bad boy magicians) and the Amazing Randi (a legend of magic, who uses his knowledge to catch those who use the principles of magic to defraud people) have debunked quite a few quack cures. According to them, all quack cures have this in common: If the condition gets better, then it’s “proof” that the treatment worked. If the condition stays the same, then it’s “proof” that the treatment prevented it from getting worse. If the condition gets worse, then it’s “proof” that the patient didn’t follow it as diligently as he/she was supposed to. (Note that “proof” is in quotation marks, because it’s not really proof of anything.)

    Just remember the most basic rule: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Before spending all that money, and subjecting yourself (or your child) to what may very well be useless “treatments”, research those treatments thoroughly (both pro & con) through legitimate medical sources; discuss them with your doctor and/or a medical specialist; find out what Health Canada and other relevant government departments have to say on the matter—-and only then, decide whether it’s appropriate for you (or your child).

    #92740 |

    I posted somewhere on here, but FWIW, I did about 10 sessions at great cost with Dr. Swingle & Associates in Vancouver. After 10 visits or so, I was advised I should be able to stop meds. The first day I fell immediately into the old pattern of procrastination; my meds help me bypass that. So my experience is to try other routes like coaching, cog. therapy, and using the lists of tools that are at hand.

    Just my .02, Jim

    #92741 |

    Every expert we spoke to while making the documentary ADD & Loving It told us that so far there’s no evidence that Biofeedback works for ADHD. It seems to help for other issues, like stress, even blood pressure, but as of 2009 none of the studies had shown any impact. As others have mentioned what works best is changing your behaviors (everything from meditation to having places for your stuff) combined with cognitive therapy and/or coaching and augmented by medication. The emphasis was on using the medication to level the playing field so you can get on with the other strategies, and then as soon as possible getting off medication, cause hey, who wants to be on medication, right? The first time I used medication it was a mild dose, and I was on it for seven months. By then I had everything in place, I’d learned enough about who I was and what ADHD was, and I was coping. I had built structures and strategies so I didn’t need the ‘training wheels’ of medication. And I should mention, I was very anti-medication and anti drugs. I’ve never smoked a joint. I’ve had maybe ten beers in my life. You can imagine how many highschool parties I was invited to!

    #92742 |

    From my research on neurofeedback I have found the following: Neurofeedback is good for helping one develop and maintain various mental states. The theory is: mental states have corresponding brain states, and the brain states in neurofeedback are represented by brain wave patterns. In neurofeedback, one first attains the desired mental state (ie. calm, focused and relaxed) and notes the corresponding brain wave pattern. Then, one tries to maintain their desired mental state while using the feedback about their brain wave patterns to help them realize whether they are maintaining the desired mental state.

    Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes. If one practices being calm, focused, and relaxed, then they will improve their ability to be calm, focused, and relaxed. It takes people much more than 10 times practicing something to improve on something they find difficult, so you can’t expect neurofeedback to do too much in 10 tries. You take drugs to improve your ability to focus, but if you can improve your ability to focus by other means then you can begin to rely less on your meds.

    Jim C., if you didn’t feel like you improved your focus with neurofeedback, why did you agree to stop taking your meds?

    You don’t need a neurofeedback trainer to help you train your focus, just as you don’t need a personal trainer to help you lose weight or gain muscle, but people keep paying for these services probably because they find it helps.

    #92743 |

    I stopped the meds on the advice of the clinic, and also out of curiosity. It was clear almost immediately that the meds were needed, regardless of what they claimed. I couldn’t beleive how fast I fell back into my old patterns of procrastination. Next day, back on Adderall, things were “back to normal”.

    The feedback consisted only of listening to tones, and watching the odd packman-like video with tones associated with action. I felt no change nor difference, but stopped as I felt the impact was minimal for the $ I would likely have to spend. Call it my experiment. I am having far better results with the links I found on this site, such as the DIY cognitive therapy sessions on line and journal keeping FWIW.

    Just my .02, Jim

    #92744 |

    Has anyone had more recent experiences with Neurofeedback? The ADD Centre is still in business.

    #92751 |

    I found a very interesting web site full of articels and videos about neurofeedback therapy:

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