Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Neurofeedback can dramatically reduce symptoms of ADHD, improving executive function and reasoning, leading to greater ability to plan, focus, and follow-through. This results in a more consistent, focused and successful work and school performance, often with reduced dependence on medications.
Signs and Symptoms
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that results from poor executive functioning and manifests itself with symptoms such as forgetfulness, disorganization, poor impulse control, and distractibility. People with ADHD may seem brilliantly incompetent as they have fantastic ideas but struggle to stay on task and follow through with them. They may talk excessively and are always on the go. The disorder is believed to affect between 3-9% of the United States population, including both children and adults.
Drs. Barkley and Murphy recommend a new diagnostic, requiring six out of nine of the following symptoms for an adult to be diagnosed with ADHD:
- Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
- Often makes decisions impulsively
- Often has difficulty stopping activities or behavior when he or she should do so
- Often starts a project or task without reading or listening to directions carefully
- Often shows poor follow-through on promises or commitments he or she may make to others
- Often has trouble doing things in their proper order or sequence
- Often more likely to drive a motor vehicle much faster than others (excessive speeding)
- Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or leisure activities
- Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
Source: Barkley, R. A., Murphy, K.R. & Fischer, M. (2007). AD/HD in Adults: Original Research, Integration and Clinical Implications. New York: Guilford Publications.
What’s Going On in the Brain
In most cases the ADD brain is generating too much slow wave activity (delta, theta, alpha frequency band), primarily in the frontal lobe (responsible for executive function), causing people to drift off & lose attention. To combat this, they will seek stimulus which temporarily wakes up their brain and allows them to pay attention and remain focused. Common stimuli include coffee, increased physical activity (hyperactivity), arguments, risky behavior, drugs, alcohol, etc.
How Neurofeedback Helps ADHD
Neurofeedback can dramatically reduce all of the symptoms of ADHD. Through neurofeedback the brain learns to speed up and produce more “pay attention” (beta frequency band) activity and limit the “doze” off (delta, theta, alpha frequency band) activity.
By speeding up the frontal lobe region, the executive functions are activated, enabling the brain to stay on task, filter out background noise, plan and organize activities, follow through on commitments, and minimize dependence upon harmful external stimuli such as drugs, alcohol, and other risky behavior.
Many of our clients have decreased and even completely weaned off their ADHD medications and are functioning better than ever before—even better than with their medications.
Research has shown that the effects of neurofeedback on ADHD is permanent. The following are selected research studies showing the effect of neurofeedback on ADHD.
Neurofeedback: An Efficacous Treatment for Behavioral Health. BrainFutures (2020). https://www.brainfutures.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/brainfutures-neurofeedback-brief-final.pdf
Neurofeedback and Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity-Disorder (ADHD) in Children: Rating the Evidence and Proposed Guidelines. Arns, M., Clark, C. R., Trullinger, M., deBeus, R., Mack, M., & Aniftos, M. (2020). Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 45(2), 39–48.
Sustained effects of neurofeedback in ADHD: a systematic review and meta- analysis. Van Doren, J., Arns, M., Heinrich, H., Vollebregt, M. A., Strehl, U., & K. Loo, S. (2018, February 14). European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 28(3), 293–305.
Evaluation of neurofeedback in ADHD: The long and winding road. Arns, M., Heinrich, H., & Strehl, U. (2014). Biological Psychology, 95, 108–115.
Neurofeedback and Cognitive Attention Training for Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Schools. Steiner, N. J., Frenette, E. C., Rene, K. M., Brennan, R. T., & Perrin, E. C. (2014). Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 35(1), 18–27.
Efficacy of Neurofeedback Treatment in ADHD: The Effects on Inattention, Impulsivity and Hyperactivity: A Meta- Analysis. Arns, M., de Ridder, S., Strehl, U., Breteler, M., & Coenen, A. (2009). Clinical EEG and Neuroscience, 40(3), 180–189.