Neurofeedback can fix ADHD

Do you struggle with focus and attention? Are your children having a hard time sitting through class or studying for tests? Is ADHD making life difficult?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you might have been looking for neurofeedback services without knowing it. With neurofeedback training, you no longer have to put up with feeling less than capable because neurofeedback for ADHD can adjust brain function to produce better focus, more sustained attention and improved memory retention and test performance! Schedule your consult today!

When learning about neurofeedback for ADHD, clients often ask about the course of brain training. They wonder about what happens when they are “done” and whether neurofeedback is really permanent?  This question also comes from parents looking to help anxious kids as well as adults working to fulfill their own wellness or peak performance needs – many of the desired gains revolve around executive function.

This question is especially asked by parents and adults beginning who feel they’ve finally gotten some control of their issues (e.g. impulsivity, stress response, sleep), and are experiencing initial shifts.  Even the first small shifts can be life-changing in how we interact with the world, and help strengthen our experience of control.

"Is neurofeedback for ADHD
really permanent?"  

The answer is yes, or a more qualified, “probably, and mostly”.   Kids and adults often report lasting gains at 6 months, or more, post treatment.  Some even make additional gains since their last training.  We hear similar anecdotal evidence from other neurofeedback clinicians.  You might not keep 100% of the gains, but there is definitely a lasting change.

When stopping training some people may experience continued improvement as the brain learns to integrate and trust new resources.  Alternatively, there may be a slight dip from peak gains made over the course of training, and then a stabilization.  In both cases, plasticity allows brains to keep shifting, with the “practice” that a trained brain engages in daily (using new core resources) allowing both future growth and maintenance of gains.

Brains are, obviously, complex – so are our lives and stressors.  Over time as our lives shift, we may exacerbate minor problems or otherwise dysregulate the brain through changes in stress levels or coping habits, and perhaps benefit from additional training in the future as additional life challenges occur.  But neurofeedback is often permanent, and ADHD symptoms are often gone in 30-60 sessions, for both kids and adults.  Ongoing challenges like ASD, or more profound cognitive or mood challenges may require additional sessions, and may benefit from concurrent therapy, mindfulness training, or other support and skill development.

Evidence in support of Neurofeedback for ADHD

In terms of neurofeedback for ADHD specifically, a recent study conducted with children 7yo-11yo showed that significant gains were maintained 6 months after neurofeedback intervention.  The study also compared cognitive training to neurofeedback, included a control group, and examined stimulant medication use in the groups over time.  A total of 104 kids were enrolled in the study, and they had 40 sessions of training.

Six-months post-intervention, gains were maintained in the neurofeedback group, but not in the cognitive training group.  Stimulant medication assessed post-intervention also hadn’t changed in the NFB group, unlike some other studies that show medication cessation along with gains, but the Floating study did show stimulant dosing had increased over time in the cognitive training group as well as the control group, while it had not increased in the NFB group.  This last point does suggest decreased need for meds after neurofeedback training (since tolerance will still develop at a stable dose), although this was not tested or suggested.

Another recent study showed much of the same with regards to gains.  Groups of kids given either stimulants or neurofeedback reduced ADHD symptoms, although only the neurofeedback group demonstrated academic gains. This study used a smaller number of kids (23, age 7 to 14) but it adds to the body of evidence that there is a lasting benefit to be had, in brain training.

Is neurofeedback for ADHD the best intervention

With no evidence of lasting gains from stimulant medications (perhaps the opposite) and only weak evidence that (some) forms of cognitive training may affect executive function, these might not be viable alternatives to intervene in building or rebuilding attention control.  Certainly not alone, and evidence keeps mounting that other practices (neurofeedback and meditation) work to reduce or eliminate executive function issues.  To unpack cognitive training, the research does show that there may be some gains made in N-Back training (studies disagree) but beyond the N-back, most forms of cognitive training don’t produce gains that transfer to real world tasks.  Above we can see evidence that neurofeedback does transfer to increased academic performance.

Alternatives, we start each course of treatment with a QEEG brain map so that we can tailor the specific training to each client’s unique brain. After the brain map, weekly sessions train the brain to pay attention longer, get less distracted and reduce impulsive behavior.

In summary, it does seem that neurofeedback for ADHD can produce permanent effects, or at least that the training can provide lasting benefits.  We also find some smaller proportion of clients benefit from ongoing or more frequent “refresher” training, especially with additional symptoms or complex challenges beyond ADHD.

We hope you found this blog post interesting.  Please contact us if you have any questions!

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