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Neurofeedback Therapy an Effective, Non-Drug Treatment for ADHD

Pills are not the only way to manage your child’s inappropriate or maladaptive behaviors.

Neurofeedback therapy is a safe, non-invasive, alternative option for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents. In November 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics approved biofeedback and neurofeedback as a Level 1 or “best support” treatment option for children suffering from ADHD.

For parents looking for an effective, non-drug treatment of ADHD, neurofeedback is one worth serious consideration.

20 Comments to
Neurofeedback Therapy an Effective, Non-Drug Treatment for ADHD

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  1. Great article. I’ve been a neurofeedback trainer for ten years. I don’t work with children but I love hearing about the ways neurofeedback can help young brains. My adult clients with ADD and ADHD also report positive changes (and often come because they want to take less medication). My favorite quote from a client is, “Now I can put an outfit together!” That might seem like a small thing, but what it means about the client’s ability to navigate life is huge.

    • Do you know a pleace not to expensive where i can take my grandson for treatmen? I live in mexico, my pension is not high. Traveling to USA and hotel+food is almost imposible for me.

      • A good place for additional information on biofeedback and neurofeedback is the BCIA (Biofeedback Certification International Alliance)website at On the website you can search for certified providers in your country.

      • you can provide the treatment to your grandson in his home with a home-based neurofeedback program. Please contact my office for more details.

        Marvin Berman PhD

  2. First, it’s nice to see PsychCentral reporting on non-pharmaceutical options; that doesn’t seem to happen much lately. Neurofeedback is a highly effective treatment for a number of conditions. Unfortunately, most insurance companies don’t cover it and most parents and patients either can’t afford it or are unwilling to pay for it. So, people get placed on medications whose efficacy, safety, and long term impact – especially on the developing brain – is not as clear as BigPgarma would have us believe.

  3. There is no good research to back up these claims about neurofeedback….If there is please point them out to me.

    • Hi Len,

      I would like to address your concern. There is a lot of research about biofeedback and neurofeedback, especially in regards to its efficacy with treating ADHD. Here are just a few recent studies that I have read through:

      Arns, M., de Ridder, S., Strehl, U., Breteler, M., & Coenen, A. (2009). Efficacy of neurofeedback treatment in ADHD: the effects on inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity: a meta-analysis. Clinical EEG and neuroscience, 40(3), 180-189.

      Duric, N., Assmus, J., Gundersen, D., & Elgen, I. (2012). Neurofeedback for the treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD: a randomized and controlled clinical trial using parental reports. BMC psychiatry, 12(1), 107.

      Fuchs, T., Birbaumer, N., Lutzenberger, W., Gruzelier, J. H., & Kaiser, J. (2003). Neurofeedback treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children: a comparison with methylphenidate. Applied psychophysiology and biofeedback, 28(1), 1-12.

      Gevensleben, H., Holl, B., Albrecht, B., Schlamp, D., Kratz, O., Studer, P., & Heinrich, H. (2010). Neurofeedback training in children with ADHD: 6-month follow-up of a randomised controlled trial. European child & adolescent psychiatry, 19(9), 715-724.

      Holtmann, M., & Stadler, C. (2006). Electroencephalographic biofeedback for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in childhood and adolescence. Expert review of neurotherapeutics, 6(4), 533-540.

      Jordanova, N. P. (2009). Biofeedback application for somatoform disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. International Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences, 1(2), 017-022.

      Linden, M., Habib, T., & Radojevic, V. (1996). A controlled study of the effects of EEG biofeedback on cognition and behavior of children with attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities. Biofeedback and Self-regulation, 21(1), 35-49.

      I have also referenced the recent approval of biofeedback therapy for ADHD by the American Academy of Pediatrics within the article. I hope this helps.


    • Hi Len,

      Let me just echo Kristi’s comment — there’s over a decade’s of research on neurofeedback, and something like three decades’ worth of research on biofeedback in general (the predecessor to neurofeedback, but also used independently still for many conditions, including anxiety).

      Neurofeedback is a well-researched, evidence-based effective non-drug treatment for ADHD. That’s why we published this article.

    • Len, check with American Academy of Pediatrics who lists neurofeedback as equivalent in efficacy to medication and behavior therapy. Also contact International Society for Neurofeedback and Research website for peer-reviewed papers

      Marvin Berman PhD

  4. Equating biofeedback to neurofeedback is a bit disingenuous. The AAP source you reference does not mention neurofeedback anywhere. And actually this is from the healthy website (AAP website for parents):

    The studies on the use of neurofeedback to date have been criticized for lacking the appropriate controls or the random assignment of test subjects to the treatment or sham treatment groups. It should also be pointed out that neurofeedback treatment is an expensive approach to treating ADHD.

    As a pediatrician I would love to have effective non-pharmalogical methods (like the level 1 methods that are referenced) but given that patients are paying out of pocket for these I would hesitate to recommend them given the above real recommendation by the AAP.

    • It’s not disingenuous at all. Neurofeedback is simply the “next generation” of biofeedback, using more sensitive sensors and better software. It’s a semantic distinction with little differentiation within real-world clinic settings.

      There was a bunch of research references given in a previous comment and I encourage you to check them out. “Neurofeedback” may be newer than biofeedback, but still has a robust research foundation.

  5. John, Jeff,
    Neurofeedback is simply EEG Biofeedback. Plain and simple. As Thought Technology has been manufacturing Biofeedback for 38 years, and EEG for 30 years, there is absolutely nothing different between those two words.
    This EVIDENCE-BASED CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHOSOCIAL INTERVENTIONS from the American Academy of Pediatrics of great importance to the recognition of Behavioral Science / Biofeedback

    The AAP gives EEG Biofeedback/Neurofeedback the highest level of efficacy – 5!
    Learning instead of Drugs – a Solution instead of a band-aid that you need to take for a lifetime. Which would you chose for your child?

  6. I think it’s irresponsible for you to start your article with the reference to “pills” not being helpful. The “pills” are actually medication. Medicine. We have two children with adhd. One has the combined type. We did everything we could to help him naturally, including two full rounds (over 25 sessions) of neurofeedback. It did nothing. The “pills” his psychiatrist prescribed (generic Ritalin) have changed his life, and thus all our lives, for the better. We are open to trying neurofeedback again for our other child, who is primarily inattentive, but we know it’s not necessarily a slam dunk.

  7. I would like to know about the sideeffects of this approach….my almost 5 years adhd daughter has been diagnosed since 7 months and took atomxieten 25 mg for 3 month did not show great progress regarding attention and now she is not under any medicatiion but am working on behavioural modification and i realy need to solve this before next september as she will join school where the real struggle will begin …..plz give me hope

  8. My son did neurofeedback for 7 months and the results were dramatic. After the 12th session we started to notice behavioral changes at home and things improved over the next few months in ways we couldn’t even describe. We got no more phone calls from school and his grades were perfect. The morning and evening routines at home were smooth and normal, where before they were a nightmare. Unfortunately, within 3-4 months of completing therapy we noticed a significant regression. The benefits did not last. We took him for multiple booster sessions and they did not work. He is now on Ritalin and while it is very helpful, the side effects are difficult. He is anxious and queasy. We repeated a brain mapping a year and a half later and his ratios were even worse than when we first had him tested. The practitioner suggested trying again after puberty when the brain changes have stabilized.

    • This sounds like a practitioner I know that works in torrance. ADD treatment center?

  9. Hello to everyone! We are newbies here but found this discussion about neurofeedback not only very informative but very heartening to us. We did not dismiss the medications but just felt our tyke was too young and wanted to see if we could find an alternative that would work and we did! We are using a neurofeedback program that runs on our computer and is wireless and has an armband that transmits the data. Our son wanted to laugh, to love and communicate with us but his lttle brain just was not making a connection. We as parents, at first, blamed ourselves and felt we were not good parents. After suffering through the criticism from friends and family we realized we were just not approaching the disorder in the correct manner. We all laugh and love and cry but the tears are of joy. We are over the moon with this neurofeedback program and it has helped us within our own interpersonal relationship as well as a family unit. And you know what? We are thinking of having another one just like the other one. We now know the true meaning of “thinking outside the box.” My tyke is testament to that statement. CHEERS!!!

  10. Your article states:Neurofeedback restores the strength of the frontal region of the brain, and builds a better connection between the mid-brain and forebrain, allowing focus, attention, impulses, and emotional reactions to become manageable. Children build memory for how they were able to achieve the desired results within the sessions and use it outside.

    There are several problems with these claims. For one, there is no such thing as “strengthening” the frontal cortex. The frontal cortex is not “weak” in individuals with ADHD, it is underactive. Big difference.

    Secondly, the ability to control impulses etc. does not involve an improved “connection” (whatever that is) between the mid – brain and frontal cortex. Rather, it requires improvement in how the frontal cortex itself functions.

    Thirdly, you propose that, through neurofeedback training, children “build a memory” of essentially how they were able to change brain wave patterns which they are able to recall outside the treatment setting. There is no evidence to support that neurofeedback builds any kind of memory regarding how brain wave patterns changed among participants. Practicing neurofeedback results in a change of brainwave patterns typically without the participant being consciously aware of how they did it.

    Finally, you claim that neurofeedback results in improved cognitive functioning outside the treatment setting and that these improvements will sustain even after treatment has terminated. But the research is not compelling regarding the generalization of cognitive gains outside the treatment setting and whether the degree of improvement would be considered satisfactory.

    In short, I believe the claims you make in your article regarding the efficacy of neurofeedback treatment for ADHD are not backed up by the research literature. Your article also uses meaningless, non-clinical terms that sound more like psycho babble than a credible professional discussion. In these ways, your article provides false hope to parents who may now decide to pay for costly neurofeedback treatment that may not achieve the desired results.

  11. its very heartening to read the discussion above on plus n minuses of neurofeedback. i have a 10 yr old daughter with Down Syndrome with major speech problems and understanding daily instructions. will it help her? a couple of my friends have tried it on their DS kids n seen improvement but also some side effects. pls advice.

    • Hi Sonali,

      I’ve tried different apps with kids at school recently, some kids have ADHD and others – various emotions control disorders. They have found the programs helpful to see their emotions on the screen and saw how they can learn to control the emotions better. We are planning to buy some headsets and software for school.

      There has been lots of research on the topic, and many studies show that neurofeedback is likely to help. As every person is individual, you never know until you try by yourself. I would suggest not spending much on clinics. The headsets and programs are available online for a decent price; check out the websites of Neurosky, MyndPlay, Emotiv etc. I’m sure you will find what suits you best. There is also a special game for kids called Focus Pocus, it has 12 mini-games mixed into 25 sessions; it gives reports on performance and suggests recommendations for future trainings.



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