After almost four years of planning, we are now getting started on a very carefully controlled randomized double blind study of the effectiveness of neurofeedback for ADHD.
This study emerged in the aftermath of a panel I sat on at the annual 2010 conference of CHADD (Children and Adults with ADHD) – the national ADHD advocacy organization. After the panel, we agreed to form a collaboration between established experts in neurofeedback and established academic ADHD researchers.
The group included six experienced neurofeedback providers and researchers and five longtime ADHD researchers. We worked together for three years, with countless revisions of our proposals and were funded in June.
The study will recruit 140 subjects with carefully diagnosed ADHD and randomly assign them to an active neurofeedback group and a sham neurofeedback control group. Those assigned to the neurofeedback group will get 39 sessions of EEG biofeedback, with careful coaching and videotaped fidelity monitoring by a neurofeedback expert. The control group will receive the same number of sessions but will be trained on another child’s EEG. Control subjects will have the identical experience to active subjects but the feedback will not be based on their brain activity but on the activity of another child with ADHD who received neurofeedback and whose session EEG’s were saved and then played back for control subjects. Neither subjects nor experimenters will know whether the EEG is that of the actual subject or one of these stored EEGs.
Subjects will be followed carefully for two years to assess the lasting efficacy of neurofeedback. Measures include neuropsychological testing, behavioral rating scales completed by parents and teachers, and qEEG and ERP (event related potentials) studies to measure brain change.
Subjects will be seen in Asheville, North Carolina and at Ohio State University in Columbus. Our role at the NeuroDevelopment Center will be to determine the technical adequacy of the recorded 19 channel EEG’s, to participate in weekly steering committee conference calls, and to assist with analyzing and writing the results.
The entire study will take five years to complete.