Frequently Asked Questions about Neurofeedback
What is neurofeedback?
Based on over twenty-five years of research, neurofeedback has become a more widely accepted treatment option for ADHD. Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback that makes use of the newest computer technology to train individuals to alter their brain waves in order to pay attention more easily. There are no chemicals and no negative side effects.
How does neurofeedback work?
Sensors pick up electrical activity in the brain (brain waves). This information is transmitted to a computer, which transforms the brain waves into video and audio displays that resemble video games. By looking at the screen and listening to tones, the individual is given immediate feedback when his/her brain is concentrating or drifting off.
Research has shown that most individuals with ADHD produce excess slow brain wave activity (theta and/or alpha) and relatively reduced fast brain wave activity (sensory motor rhythms and beta). By practicing controlling the displays, individuals learn, via operant conditioning, to reduce their slow waves and enhance their fast waves. In this way, they produce brain waves that are normally present when still and well-focused and learn what it feels like to maintain attention and to concentrate.
What are the benefits of neurofeedback?
After several training sessions, most individuals show clear and lasting gains in their ADHD symptoms. They are better able to maintain focused attention, are less distractible and less impulsive. Many also show gains in other areas including reading, handwriting, sleep and social skills. A significant number of individuals maintain these gains even without medication.
What are the success rates for neurofeedback?
Research studies indicate success rates equal to or better than for stimulant medications (from 75 to 90 percent). Studies indicate that about 50 to 70 percent of individuals trained with neurofeedback eliminate their needs for medication.
Who are good candidates for neurofeedback?
Though anyone with ADHD may benefit from this training, there are some individuals who are especially good candidates. Some families want to avoid medication and try neurofeedback and other non-medical options first. Neurofeedback is also useful for individuals who experience too many negative side effects from medication or who have medical conditions that make them unable to take stimulant medications. There are also adolescents who become resistant to the idea of taking medication for their ADHD.
What happens in neurofeedback sessions?
Neurofeedback training is typically begun twice-weekly, then reduced to once per week. Sessions last about one hour. Each neurofeedback session is comprised of several conditions: academic tasks such as reading and listening are alternated with active visual and auditory feedback conditions. In this way, students are trained to maintain focused attention in school-related areas. This training protocol was developed by Dr. Joel Lubar.
How soon will benefits be seen?
Though gains are often seen within the first ten to twenty sessions, an individualís gains are depen-dent on his or her initial levels of functioning. Those with marked hyperactivity or serious learning problems may require more sessions.
How do I get started?
Before neurofeedback begins, the individualís medical, psychological and educational histories are reviewed. Any additional evaluations are completed, if needed. A neurofeedback assessment is then performed to determine if the individual is a candidate for neurofeedback training. Individuals with ADHD often show patterns of brain waves that are different from same aged individuals without ADHD.
Does insurance pay for neurofeedback?
Some insurance plans may cover neurofeedback (under "biofeedback"). Check your coverage, as benefits vary from policy to policy. Payment plans can be arranged.