I am looking for some opinions on neurofeedback. I’ve heard that it is an effective treatment for ADD and ADHD, and that it can help people reduce and/or eliminate the use of stimulant medication (ritalin, concerta, etc.). However, I haven’t yet found any information about neurofeedback on this web site.
No, I don’t think it’s an effective treatment. Perhaps it could become a useful tool someday with more research and development but even then it could never be more than a minor part of a treatment plan. It can certainly not serve as a substitute for the medications we already know to be safe and effective.
For the most part, those who make claims about neurofeedback for ADHD are motivated by personal bias against medication and lust for conspiracy theories (Drug companies are Evil, don’t’cha know?) and the desire to consider themselves somehow smarter, wiser and more prescient than the professionals.
There’s probably no harm in trying it but don’t let anybody use it to fool you into abandoning an effective prescription and don’t let them infect you with their own prejudices against drugs and those who produce them.AnonymousInactive
Sorry, I should have clarified that I’m looking for opinions based on first-hand experience rather than opinions based on wikipedia.AnonymousInactive
I put the link up for reference, in case somebody was wondering what the topic was about.
My opinion is my own and I expressed it more directly than the brief mention I saw on the wiki.
I have been watching ADHD news since I first was diagnosed nearly twenty years back and
this idea has stagnated for a long time, only recently getting any professional attention at all.
To get an idea of how long it was, look up “biofeedback” with “ADHD” or “ADD” and you will
find the occasional mentions going on for decades.
It is highly unlikely you will find anybody with first hand experience on using neurofeedback
for ADHD because it has not been tested widely enough to make a case for it and very very
few people were in any properly run study. Nobody has even attempted to pit it against the
known treatments yet, it is likely years away before even starting in that direction and it would
take quite a while to complete such a study against even one drug, let alone half a dozen.
Put simply, it is still just a curiosity which the medical community considers fringe science
and so far is mostly fodder for conspiracy buffs who dislike drug companies. Even if it does
eventually bear fruit, neurofeedback is still in it’s infancy on it’s own (as a subject of basic
research) and putting it together with ADHD will take still more years of rigorous medical
trials before one could even consider it an alternative to established treatments. It is not an
effective treatment because an effective treatment has not been devised from it, being that
it is still a theory which has just begun primary research and is still years away from clinical
development and the fine tuning necessary to shape it into one.
There’s an opinion, just as you wanted. You won’t find much more than opinion because
virtually nobody has any experience, even among the professionals you will meet here.
Feel free to throw together a rig and play around with it, though. The technology itself is
pretty simple and the equipment is amazingly cheap. You can even get kits to turn your
PC into a simple EEG display, the approach I would start with if I was interested, because
watching a galvanometer in motion requires unwavering attention but a PC can show you
a histogram in real time and even store long recordings for later review. If it can work at all
you could probably get yourself to a point where it works for you personally long before any
well-defined plan or procedure works it’s way through labs and regulators. Then, you will
have an opinion with some experience of your own to share.JimC.Participant
FWIW I tried it late last year, with assurances I would soon be off Adderall. After perhaps 5 visits or so and being told that my brain wave patterns had changed, I was advised I could try no meds. The result? Back to the foggy, overwhelmed world of procrastination. Personally I subjectively suggest this is a waste of $. Just my .02, JimMikeMember
All the scientific studies done so far have shown no value in Neuro-feedback. Beyond the placebo effect and the effect of sitting quietly.
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, and I believe in this. If one practices being calm, focused, and relaxed, then they will improve their ability to be calm, focused, and relaxed. Since neurofeedback encourages the practicing of self-awareness and maintaining desired mental states, then there is no doubt in my mind that it can help.
It seems like neurofeedback takes a mind-over-matter approach, which I think many people are skeptical of. However, I believe that too much skepticism about the power of the will is self-defeating. I do also believe in matter-over-mind, and that drugs can be very helpful. But, we have to be careful that taking drugs to help our problems does not discourage belief in the power of the will.AnonymousInactive
Here’s a study that suggests this is an evidence-based treatment:
While I don’t have an opinion on this topic, I would find it interesting to use brain scans (EEG or otherwise) to map out various brain characteristics. If anyone is looking for a research subject, I’m available.AnonymousInactive
Ashman, I too am looking at Neurofeedback therapy as a treatment for Inattentive ADHD. I do not have any first hand experience with the treatment, but I have read many academic articles on it. The academic article that I found about is called “Efficacy of Neurofeedback Treatment in ADHD: the Effects on Inattention, Impulsivity and Hyperactivity: a Meta-Analysis”, by Martijin Arns, Sabine de Ridder, Ute Strehl, Marinus Breteler and Anton Coenen published in “Clinical EEG and Neuroscience” year: 2009 volume: 40 issue number: 3. It is a meta-analysis of 15 studies done on neurofeedback treatment in ADHD all which met certain criteria of objectivity and such. I strongly suggest taking a look at this article if you are curious about Neurofeedback’s efficacy. I’m not sure where “Aaron.Walkhouse” gets his information, but there have been studies that compare the efficacy of neurofeedback to the efficacy of other drugs used to treat ADHD, the treatment is not considered to be based on fringe science, and there are many people who have tried it. According to this meta-analysis, it has an efficacy rating comparable with Ritalin in treating inattention and impulsivity, however, it is less effective at treating hyperactivity. The most appealing thing about the treatment, in my opinion, is that after you are done with the treatment, which may take up to a year, the effects seem to be permanent.
That said, I’m still skeptical. I’m still doing research as i’m a bit reluctant to fork over that much money.AnonymousInactive
Try taking a look at the PlayAttention system. It’s expensive, and it takes upwards of six months for permanent changes, but the evidence points to it being effective.
There have been two studies released in the past year as to its effectiveness at building attention-based cognitive skills and reducing impulsivity. Plus, the feedback (pardon the pun) from users has been predominantly thumbs-up as to results. Their interface set-up is referred to as ‘Edufeedback’, but essentially it’s computer driven, interactive Neuro-biological Feedback.
“Neurofeedback” (non-interfaced neuro-biological feedback) has been demonstrated in studies to have a neuroplastic effect, but it too takes months of use, and it lacks the “POWER OF INTEREST” that’s part of the PlayAttention strategy that uses video game technology married to interactive feedback technology.
The facts are that the brain gets better at whatever cognitive functions we choose to practice with it.
For instance, the cognitive gymnastics involved in PROPER meditative forms that require rallying and directing and self-monitoring of attention and thought have a dramatic effect on ADHD. Of course, that takes a while too.
Dang. I guess you’re screwed to have to go above and beyond no matter what course you take.
The good news is you’ll gain mastery of cognitive skills, which cannot be acquired by popping a pill, alone.
T. Lavon LawrenceAnonymousInactive
Neuro-Feedback Follow-up shows positive results:
It’s better if you read it than for me to post it here because it throws in a bunch of excess spaces.
Yippee for Neuro-feedback.
Here’s the PROBLEM, however, with both the initial study and the follow-up.
What folks like PlayAttention and other providers of Neuro (or ‘Edu’) feedback training don’t tell you (cuz it would be inconvenient from a marketing standpoint) is that training for an hour a week for 40 to 60 sessions is a LOUSY way to attempt to make permanent brain change for attention control mastery.
Everybody who is interested in brain science from a training aspect knows that cognitive skill is a USE IT OR LOSE IT proposition.
Anybody who wants permanent and significant improvement in cognitive skill (such as Attention Control) MUST adopt brain training as a LIFESTYLE and not as a temporary project.
I can’t believe these people don’t have the guts to just state the truth on the matter.
T. Lavon LawrencePatte RosebankParticipant
Sounds like their “inconvenient truth” is the same as the “inconvenient truth” in the diet & fitness industries. Namely, that unless you keep following the program every day for the rest of your life, any weight you lose will come back, and any muscle & fitness you gain will go away.
But if they told people that, nobody would buy what they’re selling. So, instead, they promote the amazing results that a very small percentage of actual customers have achieved—or they give you a “representation” of results, using models who never had to actually use the products or join the gym they’re advertising, to get their gorgeous bodies. And they tell you that you’ll get results amazingly quickly, because the promise of instant gratification is one of the most powerful selling tools around.
If they told people the truth, the diet and fitness industries wouldn’t be worth billions of dollars a year. And the “brain training” industry wouldn’t be worth getting into either.AnonymousInactive
My friend did neurofeedback a few years ago, and I noticed a marked difference in her. She would focus on conversations instead of constantly being distracted by our surroundings. I’ve also seen the effects wear off a while after treatment ended. Just one bit of anecdotal evidence.AnonymousInactive
Neurofeedback: as a researcher, I am torn between evidence-based and the genuine belief of the people who do this. With so many centers for neurofeedback, one can’t imagine that they are all con artists. They must be seeing something working. But there are three fundamental questions- a) is there really an effect that leads to a change in impairment, b) is it sustainable and c) how does it compare to the current standard of treatment. Let’s be clear, it is not cheap. A recent meta-analysis was done in the Journal of Neurotherapy by Lubar and his group (he is the one who started Neurofeedback and the Journal is about neurofeedback) which showed that it met Level 5 of evidence-based outcome (5 is the highest level).
As in most cases where non-traditional approaches are done, the argument has been that it is too expensive to do the kind of research that truly puts it to rest. That is a stupid argument as their are plenty of places where non-traditional studies are accepted like the Hospital for Sick Children or NIMH in the US. Ultimately, without replicated research in peer reviewed journals, it still gets relegated to fringe status despite it’s attempts to create some validity.
Here is another stupid argument: that the drug companies control the nature of what is real science. That is just a slap in the face of every researcher out there.
At the end of the day, if you believe in something, why wouldn’t you go out of your way to show it in a scientific study. The real problem is this: what if you do the study and it shows that it has no benefit. Why risk the obvious? But…if you truly believe that it works, then a randomized placebo controlled study is the only way to validate your claim and put the naysayers to rest!
The only think I know for certain: it doesn’t appear to hurt you (except your pocket book and your time investment). Does it help? I am sure you can line up a hundred people who will say it does. That proves nothing. People are gullible. In most studies, the placebo effect is as high as 40% of the outcome.
I think it is frustrating all around. I personally think it falls on Lubar’s shoulders. He is the “father of Neurofeedback” and you would think he now has the credibility to get the funding to do a comprehensive study. Heck, given the opportunity, I’ll do the study.AnonymousInactive
I use an Atlantis II Brainmaster system. It does help me but I do 45-50 minutes per day 6 to 7 days a week. I know that is alot but I like to feel focused. For the past 2 months my good brainwaves seem to have gotten lower which concerns me. I have even gotten myself on an exercise routine which helps but my focus is a bit worse than it should be. I am concerned. I don’t know if it is me or the system. Could it possibly be that I am doing too much neurofeedback and my brain is becoming immune to it or is it the system. I have been on this routine for 2 3/4 years. I am using longer electrode wires which are frequently tangled. Would that be it? My Atlantis systems lights sometimes flashes orange on the indicator. Maybe better a better connection for the electrodes. Your ideas would be much appreciated. What do you think?
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