ADHD: Neurofeedback helps

Training reduces impulsivity and measurably changes brain activity

Neurofeedback not only affects the behavior of ADHD patients, it also leads to changes in the brain. © Shivendu Jauhari / thinkstock
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Improvement without pills: Neurofeedback can help children with ADHD, a study confirms. After several weeks of training, the small participants were able to better control their impulsivity. At the same time, however, measurable changes in their brain activity were also evident, as researchers report in the scientific journal "Scientific Reports". This shows for the first time that neurofeedback works not only on the behavioral level but also on the neurophysiological level.

The attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder ADHD is now the most common mental illness in children and adolescents. The disorder is usually treated with the help of a combination of psychotherapy, educational measures and medications such as Ritalin. Even sports can at least subjectively provide for an improvement.

Control airplane with thoughts

In the first studies, a training using neurofeedback has also proven to be successful: The children learn how to concentrate their thoughts, for example by controlling a car or plane on the screen. The sense behind it: By linking certain brainwave patterns with the computer images, the children learn to better control their behavior and their impulsiveness.

"For children diagnosed with AD (H) S, it's all about being able to better control their own behavior and concentration, " explains psychologist Annet Bluschke from the Dresden University Hospital. Together with colleagues, she has examined the effects of neurofeedback on 19 children with ADHD. "Meanwhile, the first study results show that this form of therapy brings a measurable improvement to patients."

Certain circuits, here NoGo P3, changed their activity significantly by the neurofeedback. © Bluschke et al./ Scientific Reports, CC-by-sa 4.0

Measurable changes

As Bluschke and her colleagues noted, the effect of neurofeedback goes beyond the mere behavioral level. On the one hand, the children learned to better control their impulses - for example, by not pressing a key immediately. On the other hand, however, measurable differences in the brain activity of the small volunteers were also evident after the eight-week training. display

In particular, the activity in some antipulse circuits was increased after training, the researchers noted. They conclude that neurofeedback is not only superficial, but actually leads to a change in the brain. Such training may therefore complement other forms of ADHD therapy, and possibly help to reduce the drug dose of the affected children. (Scientific Reports, 2016; doi: 10.1038 / srep31178)

(University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden, 13.09.2016 - NPO)