Behavioral effects of neurofeedback in adolescents with ADHD: A randomized controlled trial

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Neurofeedback has been proposed as a potentially effective intervention for reducing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms. However, it remains unclear whether neurofeedback is of additional value to treatment as usual (TAU) for adolescents with clinical ADHD symptoms. Using a multicenter parallel-randomized controlled trial design, adolescents with ADHD symptoms were randomized to receive either a combination of TAU and neurofeedback (NFB + TAU, n = 45) or TAU-only (n = 26). Randomization was computer generated and stratified for age group (ages 12 through 16, 16 through 20, 20 through 24). Neurofeedback treatment consisted of approximately 37 sessions of theta/sensorimotor rhythm (SMR)-training on the vertex (Cz). Primary behavioral outcome measures included the ADHD-rating scale, Youth Self Report, and Child Behavior Checklist all assessed pre- and post-intervention. Behavioral problems decreased equally for both groups with medium to large effect sizes, range of partial η2 = 0.08–0.31, p < 0.05. Hence, the combination of NFB + TAU was not more effective than TAU-only on the behavioral outcome measures. In addition, reported adverse effects were similar for both groups. On behavioral outcome measures, the combination of neurofeedback and TAU was as effective as TAU-only for adolescents with ADHD symptoms. Considering the absence of additional behavioral effects in the current study, in combination with the limited knowledge of specific treatment effects, it is questionable whether theta/SMR neurofeedback for adolescents with ADHD and comorbid disorders in clinical practice should be used. Further research is warranted to investigate possible working mechanisms and (long-term) specific treatment effects of neurofeedback. Keywords: Neurofeedback Theta/SMR-training ADHD RCT
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1048
JournalEuropean Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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