Neurofeedback for ADHD


What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback therapy is a very gentle, painless form of therapy used to treat ADHD. It is performed by occupational therapists, psychologists, or psychotherapists and not only fights against symptoms, but also combats the causes of the disorder. In contrast to medicine, this therapy can be used from as early as preschool children to adults.

The scientific basis of this method is biofeedback: During these, changes in body processes such as the heart rate or blood pressure are made visible using devices. In the case of Neurofeedback, brain activity is measured and “reported back” to the patient via monitor. 

The aim of this method is for patients to learn how to consciously control and influence these normally involuntary activities. Just as they learned to run or ride a bike as small children, with neurofeedback they internalise how they have to behave in order to establish an attentive or relaxed state. The therapist actively involves the patient in the treatment.
The treatment usually consists of 20 to 40 sessions. In individual cases, however, considerably more sessions may be necessary. Afterwards, no further treatment is necessary. In addition to the sessions in the practice, the patient should practise the transfer to everyday life at home with special training cards.
Neurofeedback should be integrated as one component in a multimodal treatment concept. For patients who are already being treated with medication, neurofeedback can be used in parallel. In contrast to medication, neurofeedback has no side effects when used correctly. The goal of the treatment is a lasting positive change in the patient's behaviour.
Neurofeedback is scientifically recognised and its effectiveness for ADHD and other disorders has been proven in several studies.

Aim and Effect of Neurofeedback

The aim of Neurofeedback is to empower patients to influence their own brain activity so that they can process stimuli in a more controlled manner and perform tasks better. This is done by learning to voluntarily produce negative or positive shifts of the electric signals measured over a certain area of the brain, meaning that they should alternately put themselves into an attentive and a relaxed state.

The long-term effect of Neurofeedback is based on positive reinforcement: If they get their brain activity moving in the right direction, then this is immediately displayed on the monitor and the person receives a visual reward. Therefore, participants gradually learn to automate their behaviors and to transfer these to everyday life situations.

Neurofeedback Methods


An important form of neurofeedback is the neurofeedback of the slow cortical potentials, the so-called SCP neurofeedback.  Here, patients learn to regulate their slow cortical potentials and to activate certain brain regions in such a way that they can cope with an upcoming task. 
There is also training of different frequency bands such as theta/beta neurofeedback. This method aims to increase the beta components in the EEG, which are too low in ADHD patients, and at the same time reduce the theta components in the EEG, which are often too high.
The so-called SMR neurofeedback trains the sensorimotor rhythm and the coherence training aims to activate different brain areas simultaneously.

How does SCP Neurofeedback work for ADHD?

Numerous scientific studies have proven that there are correlations between certain patterns of activity in the human brain and behaviour. Among other things, scientists have found that the central nervous system of people with ADHD reacts differently to internal and external stimuli.
In healthy people who are expecting an event or preparing for a task, the slow brain electrical signals in the EEG, the so-called slow cortical potentials (also known as slow cortical potentials - SCPs), shift in the electrically negative direction (negation). Their cerebral cortex, the cortex, is excited and activated. These negative SCPs thus stand for increased attention of the brain and express themselves in behaviour in quick reactions and increased attention. When the brain is less excited or relaxed, an electrical positivation of the SCPs (shift in an electrically positive direction) can be measured in the EEG. In this state, stimuli are processed less well and it takes longer to react. There is a constant slow shift between these two states in the brain.

In people with ADHD, the regulation of SCPs works less well and especially the activation of brain activity, takes place at a lower level.  This means that they have less energy available to process stimuli and cope with an upcoming task. This in turn then leads to inattention and impulsivity.

The Advantages of Neurofeedback

How does Neurofeedback work?

Scientific Evidence

Neurofeedback info materials

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What is ADHD

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