Longer-term effects from neurofeedback therapy for ADHD
Children with an attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can benefit in the long term from neurofeedback therapy. This emerges from a meta-analysis by an international study team. The scientists demonstrated that the positive effects of the therapy lasted for at least six months. The therapy did not perform worse on follow-up examinations than conventional therapies with medication.
Data from ten controlled trials with more than 500 children suffering from ADHD attention deficit syndrome were evaluated in the current study. The study team also included researchers from the Child and Adolescent Department of Mental Health under the direction of Professor Dr. Gunther Moll from the University Hospital Erlangen and the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen as well as other scientists from the Netherlands and the United States. The results of the meta-analysis have now been published in the specialist magazine "European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry".
How does neurofeedback therapy work?
Neurofeedback therapy measures children's brain activity (EEG) in real time. The computer-aided procedure therefore provides constant feedback that can help the children to control and regulate their brain activity in a more targeted manner. This can result in a decrease in ADHD symptoms. For example, neurofeedback therapy can be designed as a computer game for children. "For example, a goalkeeper only holds a penalty if there is a pattern in the EEG that corresponds to a certain form of concentration," reports Prof. Dr. Hartmut Heinrich, one of the authors of the study, in a press release from the university hospital on the study results.
The study is designed to withstand criticism
To prevent a one-sided interpretation of the data, critics of neurofeedback also worked on the study. The researchers want to ensure a balanced assessment. Overall, the results showed that children with ADHD still benefit from the therapy even six months after treatment. Inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity tended to decrease even further in many subjects.
Neurofeedback is no worse than medication
"In previous studies, neurofeedback did no worse in the follow-up examinations than conventional therapies, including medication," explains Dr. Martijn Arns from the Netherlands, who initiated the meta-analysis.
An effective treatment option
Other examined control conditions such as cognitive training could achieve a significant effect at the end of the treatment, but this was no longer detectable in the follow-up examinations. The results of the meta-analysis indicate that neurofeedback therapy is suitable as a long-term treatment option for children with ADHD.
According to the international classification of diseases, the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is classified as "behavioral and emotional disorders beginning in childhood and adolescence" and its subgroup as "hyperkinetic disorders". The affected children show a combination of increased impulsivity, lack of attention, concentration problems and excessive motor activity (hyperactivity) in different degrees. The "Supply Report 2015/2016" of the AOK Scientific Institute shows that there is a prevalence of almost five percent in children under the age of 18. (vb)