Treating ADHD? Don’t Waste Money on Neurofeedback

Go on the internet, or even talk with some doctors, and you may come across neurofeedback as one possible treatment for children and adults with ADHD.  Since it is non-medicinal, EEG neurofeedback holds an appeal for some in spite of its cost.  Sadly, it just doesn’t work.

There have been a lot of studies on the topic, with mixed results, though it’s important to note that the more rigorous the study, the more likely it is to demonstrate that neurofeedback isn’t a good treatment for ADHD.  In other words, it’s poor study quality, not treatment effectiveness, that suggests (only in some studies) that neurofeedback might be an effective option for treating ADHD.

The most recent study, which was a triple blind study that included actual neurofeedback, sham (i.e. fake) neurofeedback, and cognitive behavioral group therapy in its three legs, demonstrated that ADHD participants self-rated improvements in all three treatments but that there were no differences between the neurofeedback group, sham neurofeedback group and CBT group.  In other words, it wasn’t the neurofeedback that led folks to feel their symptoms were improved.

What might explain improvements?  Though not reviewed in the research write up I read, a number of possibilities come to mind:  placebo effect; paying attention to the idea of treatment; increasing mindfulness around ADHD behaviors because of weekly interactions with an ADHD professional; difficulty in accurate self assessment (common for those with ADHD.)


Source:  The ADHD Report, December 2017, Neurofeedback Not Effective in Adult ADHD