Frank Duffy, MD, Neurologist, Head of the Neuroimaging Department and of Neuroimaging Research at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School Professor, conducted an independent review of the literature on neurofeedback for Clinical Electroencephalography (2000). He summarized his findings as follows:
“The literature, which lacks any negative study of substance, suggests that EEG biofeedback therapy should play a major therapeutic role in many difficult areas. In my opinion, if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy, it would be universally accepted and widely used.”Frank Duffy
In a recent paper Update on attention-deficit/
“Overall, these findings support the use of multi-modal treatment, including medication, parent/school counseling, and EEG biofeedback, in the long term management of ADHD, with EEG biofeedback in particular providing a sustained effect even without stimulant treatment…parents interested in non-psychopharmacologic treatment can pursue the use of complementary and alternative therapy. The therapy most promising by recent clinical trials appears to be EEG biofeedback.”Dr. Campbell
A recent special issue of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America was devoted to emerging interventions that affect brain function. Neurofeedback was featured in seven of the ten chapters in the volume. The volume editors provided an overview and clinical perspective on all the approaches presented. About neurofeedback they concluded:
“EEG biofeedback meets the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry criteria for clinical guideline (CG) for treatment of ADHD, seizure disorders, anxiety (OCD, GAD, PTSD, phobias), depression, reading disabilities, and addictive disorders. This suggests that EEG biofeedback should always be considered as an intervention for these disorders by the clinician.”Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America
“WebMD says that, although prescribing drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall are the most common way of managing ADHD — and bring improvement in about 80% of patients, says the American Psychiatric Association – they are not without problems. Many children taking them suffer side effects such as sleep problems, weight loss, jitters, and stomach upset, and nearly half of those with some types of ADHD don’t respond to the drugs at all. Some experts are also concerned with their long-term use.
A study, published in the December, 2002, issue of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, indicates that ADHD kids who had weekly sessions of traditional biofeedback therapy for a year were able to reduce or eliminate their medication – and maintained the same level of improvement in focus and concentration as when they had been on drug therapy.”Vincent J. Monastra ADHD Study cited by WebMD
“Neurotherapy can treat many conditions, including attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, anxiety disorders, sleep problems, brain damage from head injuries, epilepsy, and alcoholism and other addictions. It has been shown to be helpful even for conditions often considered untreatable beyond maintenance and sedation, such as autism or psychosis. Neurotherapy treats these conditions by changing the way the brain functions. Brain functions that are not efficient are “exercised” to make them more efficient. Similar to physical exercise to strengthen specific muscles in the body, neurotherapy increases the efficiency of specific brain functions. It safely corrects many inefficiencies in the brain that cause problems.”Paul G. Swingle, Ph.D. (2008). Biofeedback for the Brain: How Neurotherapy Effectively Treats Depression, ADHD, Autism, and More
“Professionals, like most people, tend to discount what they don’t understand or have no experience with. Most pediatricians know nothing about neurofeedback because it was not mentioned in medical school. Professionals in the field of A.D.D. have traditionally relied on drugs and behavior modification. They are comfortable with these approaches, even as they realized their limitations. As research and experience accumulates, however, neurofeedback is becoming more widely accepted. Unlike drugs, which are short acting, neurofeedback appears to produce permanent shifts in learning and behavior.”William Sears, M.D. and Lynda Thompson, Ph.D. (1998). The A.D.D Book: New Understanding, New Approaches to Parenting Your Child
Kropp, P., Siniatchkin, M.,Gerber, W. D. (2002). On the pathophysiology of migraine–links for “empirically based treatment” with neurofeedback:
“Revealed by SCPs, migraine can be regarded as a disorder related to a habituation deficit caused by a brainstem-related dysfunction. Habituation shows systematic variations around a migraine attack. After an attack, habituation is normal. With neurofeedback, migraine patients can learn to control their high negative SCPs and to habituate. Along with the ability to habituate the days with migraine can be reduced.”Journal Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 27(3), 203-13
Sichel, A.G., Fehmi, L.G., Goldstein, D.M. (1995). Positive Outcome With Neurofeedback Treatment In a Case of Mild Autism.
“The same type of neurotherapy which is used to treat attention deficit disorders has initiated a process which reduced autistic symptoms and supported the development of normal patterns of social interaction and communication. This has profound implications for treatment in a field with few low risk alternatives. These results are consistent with the view that a basic defining characteristic of autism is the failure to pay attention appropriately to eh experience of one’s body. That is, mild autism may be profitably considered a form of attentional limitation or rigidity to which other attention treatments may also be useful.”Journal of Neurotherapy, 1(1), 60-64
Wing, K. (2001) Effect of neurofeedback on motor recovery of a patient with brain injury: a case study and its implications for stroke rehabilitation:
“NFB appears to be a powerful form of therapy that has been shown to facilitate long-lasting changes in the brain, as evidenced by improved function, even many years after injury.
Although NFB has been proven to be effective in the treatment of several different diagnoses, including stroke and head injury, it is underutilized in physical medicine and rehabilitation. There are several reasons, some of which are cost, training, availability of clinics, and lack of insurance coverage. However, the major reason could be simply the lack of awareness of this treatment approach.”Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, 8(3), 45-53
Hammond, D. (2005). Neurofeedback Treatment of Depression and Anxiety
“Neurofeedback is an encouraging development that holds promise as a method for modifying biological brain patterns associated with a variety of mental health and medical (e.g., stroke, head injury, effects of aging) disorders-particularly because unlike drugs, electroconvulsive therapy, and intense transcranial magnetic stimulation, it is non-invasive and seldom associated with even mild side effects.Journal of Adult Development, Vol. 12, Nos 2/3
Although NFB has been proven to be effective in the treatment of several different diagnoses, including stroke and head injury, it is underutilized in physical medicine and rehabilitation. There are several reasons, some of which are cost, training, availability of clinics, and lack of insurance coverage. However, the major reason could be simply the lack of awareness of this treatment approach.”
The following references may of interest to readers who wish to read more about the scientific bases of Neurofeedback and Brain Function Training:
Larsen, S. (2006)
The Healing Power of Neurofeedback: The Revolutionary LENS Technique for Restoring Optimal Brain Function.
Healing Arts Press: Rochester, VT.
Robbins, J. (2000)
A Symphony in the Brain – The Evolution of the New Brain Wave Biofeedback.
Atlantic Monthly Press: New York.
Sears, W. and Thompson, L. (1998)
The A.D.D. Book: New Understandings, New Approaches to Parenting Your Child.
Little, Brown & Company: New York.
Swingle, P. (2008)
Biofeedback for the Brain: How Neurotherapy effectively treats Depression, ADHD, Autism, and More.
Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, NJ.
Budzynski, T. H. (1996).
Brain brightening: Can neurofeedback improve cognitive process?
Biofeedback, 24(2), 14-17.
Hammond, D. C. (2005).
Neurofeedback with anxiety and affective disorders.
Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 14(1), 105-123.
Hammond, D. C. (2003)
QEEG-guided neurofeedback in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Journal of Neurotherapy, 7(2), 25-52.
Hanslmayer, S., Sauseng, P., Doppelmayr, M., Schabus, M., & Klimesch, W. (2005)
Increasing individual upper alpha by neurofeedback improves cognitive performance in human subjects.
Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 30(1), 1-10.
Lubar, J. F. (2003)
Neurofeedback for the management of attention‑deficit / hyperactivity disorders.
Chapter in M. S. Schwartz & F. Andrasik (Eds.), Biofeedback: A Practitioner’s Guide (Third Edition. New York, Guilford, 409-437.
Monastra, V. J., (2005)
Electroencephalographic biofeedback (neurotherapy) as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Rationale and empirical foundation.
Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 14(1), 55-82.
Nitsche, M. & Paulus, W. (2000)
Excitability changes induced in the human motor cortex by weak transcranial direct current stimulation.
The Journal of Physiology, 527(3), 633-639.
Sterman, M. B. (2000)
Basic concepts and clinical findings in the treatment of seizure disorders with EEG operant conditioning.
Clinical Electroencephalography, 31(1), 45-55.
Thatcher, R. W. (2000)
EEG operant conditioning (biofeedback) and traumatic brain injury
Clinical Electroencephalography, 31(1), 38-44.
Thompson, L., & Thompson, M. (1998)
Neurofeedback combined with training in metacognitive strategies: Effectiveness in students with ADD.
Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 23(4), 243-263.
Trudeau, D. L. (2005)
Applicability of brain wave biofeedback to substance use disorder in adolescents.
Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 14(1), 125-136.