Neurotherapy Research

Research confirms neurotherapy is an effective treatment for a variety of mental disorders

Neurotherapy research in the 1960’s and 1970’s demonstrated that it was possible to modify brainwave patterns to improve mental health. As computer technology advanced, research efforts accelerated through the 1980’s and 1990’s, expanding the range of conditions for which neurotherapy has been shown to be effective.

Below you can read excerpts from a few of these studies. You can also link to some of the scientific articles themselves, should you wish to read about the effectiveness of neurofeedback in more detail.


Click on the following links to get more information:
ADD/ADHD & Learning Disabilities
Learning Disabilities
Anxiety
Epilepsy, Brain Injuries & Stroke
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


ADD/ADHD & Learning Disabilities
One of the most widely researched disorders on the effectiveness of neurotherapy is AD/HD. As of 2007, more than 20 studies have been conducted on the treatment of AD/HD using neurofeedback. These studies include double blinded, sham studies, which are considered to be the gold standard of research design. All studies consistently show that 70-80% of subjects significantly benefit from the treatment, and these benefits remain for up to 10 years post treatment (Lubar, 1995).

For example, Rossiter and La Vaque (1995) found that 20 sessions of neurofeedback produced comparable improvements in attention and concentration to taking Ritalin. They concluded “EEG biofeedback may be the treatment of choice in cases where medication is ineffective, only partially effective, has unacceptable side effects, or where compliance with taking medication is low in children with ADHD.”

Similarly, Fuchs et al. (2003) demonstrated that three months of neurofeedback reduced symptoms of AD/HD among children as effectively as Ritalin. They concluded that “neurofeedback was efficient in improving some of the behavioral concomitants of ADHD in children whose parents have a positive attitude toward a nonpharmacological treatment.”

Monastra et al. (2002) found that children treated with neurofeedback had reduced symptoms of AD/HD even when their Ritalin was discontinued. Those children not treated with neurofeedback had their symptoms of AD/HD return once the Ritalin was discontinued. A brain scanning process showed improved brain functioning only in children who had received neurofeedback. They concluded, “It is apparent that neurofeedback is an efficacious treatment for ADHD and a viable alternative to the use of psychostimulant medication, and it is considered the only type of treatment with sustained improvement of central ADHD symptoms in the absence of stimulant therapy”.

Levesque, Beauregard & Mensour (2006) demonstrated improvements on multiple measures for children receiving neurofeedback treatment. Parent ratings of inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive ADHD symptoms declined significantly – some into the normal range. Attention test scores also increased significantly. But perhaps most remarkably, the children had their brain scanned with an fMRI while they completed a difficult cognitive challenge called the Counting Stroop task.

(You can try this yourself at: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/words.html).

Not only did the treated children’s performance significantly improve, but their brain activation patterns in the frontal networks involved in attention changed, too, so that they looked more like normal children. This study demonstrates convincingly that neurofeedback changes the underlying pattern of brain activity in AD/HD.

Based on this growing body of empirical evidence, Brown University’s Dr. Laurence Hirshberg, recommended that neurofeedback be considered by clinicians and parents as a first-line treatment for ADHD when parents or patients prefer not to use medication, when medication causes significant side effects or it is not sufficiently effective. (read the article in Expert rev. Neurotherapeutics by using this link (http://neurodevelopmentcenter.com/fileadmin/uploads/Hirshberg_Editorial.pdf)

Effect of neurofeedback training on the neural substrates of selective attention in children with AD/HD: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study
Levesque, J., Beauregard, M., & Mensour, B. 2006.. Neuroscience Letters, 394, 216-221.
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Neurofeedback Combined with Training in Metacognitive Strategies: Effectiveness in Students with Attention Deficit Disorder
L. Thompson and M. Thompson
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The Effectiveness of Neurofeedback and Stimulant Drugs in Treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Part II. Replication
Thomas Rossiter
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The Effects of Stimulant Therapy, EEG Biofeedback, and Parenting Style on the Primary Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Vincent J Monastra, Donna M. Monastra, and Susan George
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Neurofeedback: An Alternative and Efficacious Treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Daniel J. Fox, David F. Tharp, and Lydia C. Fox
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Neurofeedback Treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder In Children: A Comparison with Methylphenidate
Thomas Fuchs, Niels Birbaumer, Werner Lutzenberger, John H. Gruzelier, and Jochen Kaiser
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Learning Disabilities
Neurofeedback has also shown success in treating children with learning disabilities. Becerra et. al. (2006) found that a group of learning disabled children who received neurofeedback showed significant reduction in symptoms compared to the children who did not receive neurofeedback. At two year follow up, those children treated with neurofeedback continued to do better.

1: Clin EEG Neurosci. 2006 Jul;37(3):198-203.
Follow-up study of learning-disabled children treated with neurofeedback or placebo.
Becerra J, Fernández T, Harmony T, Caballero MI, García F, Fernández-Bouzas A, Santiago-Rodríguez E, Prado-Alcalá RA.

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Anxiety
The Neurotherapy of Anxiety Disorders
Norman C. Moore, 2005
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Epilepsy, Brain Injuries & Stroke
Uncontrolled epileptic seizures have also been effectively treated using neurofeedback. Research in this area began in the early 1970’s and includes blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover studies (reviewed in Sterman, 2000). Although seizures are often adequately controlled by anti-convulsive medication, in severe cases some patients have continued seizures despite medication usage. Research has shown that neurofeedback can reduce or eliminate seizures in up to 82% of these so-called intractable patients, including the most severe cases.

Dr. Jonathan Walker, a board certified Neurologist in electroencephalography, president of the American Board of QEEG Technology, and president of the Neurofeedback section of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, states “By using neurofeedback, it is possible to train the brain to de-emphasize those rhythms which lead to generation and propagation of seizure, and to emphasize those rhythms that make seizures less likely to occur. With recent improvements in quantitative EEG measurement and improved neurofeedback protocols, it is often possible now to eliminate seizures or reduce the amount of medication required to control them.”

Rehabilitation of brain injuries is currently of intense interest across the United States, and Dr. Little is part of a team of national QEEG experts that is studying the effects of Neurofeedback on the symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury. You can read some of the preliminary scientific evidence for the effectiveness of neurofeedback in treating head injuries by linking on the articles below.

Neurofeedback Treatment of Epilepsy
Jonathan E. Walker, MD, Gerald Kozlowski, PH.D.
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Foundation and Practice of Neurofeedback for the Treatment of Epilepsy

M. Barry Sterman & Tobias Egner
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Changes After EEG Biofeedback and Cognitive Retraining in Adults with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Timothy P. Tinius, PhD, Kathleen A. Tinius
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Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Efficacy Review of Computers, Strategies, QEEG-Guided Biofeedback, and Medications – Technical Report #1 of the Brain Foundation
Kirtley E. Thornton, Ph.D. & Dennis P. Carmody, Ph.D.
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The Usefulness of Quantitative EEG (QEEG) and Neurotherapy in the Assessment and Treatment of Post-Concussion Syndrome
Jacques Duff
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Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
Neurofeedback has been successfully used to treat patients with alcoholism and drug addiction. Peniston and Kulkowsky (1989) used neurofeedback with chronic alcoholics. Those alcoholics treated with neurofeedback had significantly fewer relapses as compared to a control group of alcoholics that did not receive neurofeedback. Those patients treated with neurofeedback had reduced levels of depression as well. On four-year follow-up (Peniston & Kulkowsky, 1990), fully 80% of those patients treated with neurofeedback remained sober, compared to only 20% of the control group.

Effects of an EEG biofeedback protocol on a mixed substance abusing population
American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, August, 2005 by William C. Scott, David Kaiser, Siegfried Othmer, Stephen I. Sideroff
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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur after you have seen or experienced something scary or horrible. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening, and you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger. Peniston and Kulkosky (1991) administered neurofeedback to Vietnam veterans with PTSD and compared them to other vets with PTSD who received psychotherapy. Those treated with neurotherapy showed a greater decrease in symptoms and had greater reductions in medications compared to those who did not receive neurotherapy.

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Case Studies - read how neurotherapy helped change lives
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1/6/08 - Dr. Kirk Little provides insight into kids drawn to “thrill seeking” behavior in Enquirer article.
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