Kids With ADHD and 'Brain Wave' Training in School
But experts agree more research is needed to see if that translates into better classroom performance
One expert welcomed the research.
"I have been following the field and I was encouraged that there was finally a well-controlled study on neurofeedback and ADHD," said Dr. Caroline Martinez, an assistant clinical professor in the division of behavioral pediatrics at the Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital, in New York City. "Prior studies have been inconclusive or not adequately controlled, and it was nice to have the benefit of being compared to a control group and the cognitive training group."
Martinez noted that she believes that neurofeedback for ADHD is not readily available.
"They are expensive and are not usually covered by insurance, that I know of," she said. She estimated that neurofeedback training runs at roughly $100 per session.
Steiner noted that about 50 percent of the children in the study were on a common ADHD medication at the start of the research. Six months later, the drug dosage remained the same among participants in the neurofeedback group, but the parents of the students in the cognitive training and control groups reported increased medication doses, which Steiner said is to be expected as a child matures.
Another expert lauded the research, but wondered about its applicability to classroom performance.
"I think it's important to do studies that look for the effects of other interventions besides medication on ADHD symptoms. I think the study was rigorously done," said Dr. Donald Gilbert, an ADHD researcher and professor of pediatrics and neurology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
But while the neurofeedback intervention made a difference and attention scores were better, Gilbert questioned whether it would equate to better classroom performance.
"I'm not sure we can expect a difference in learning in the classroom because, on average, after neurofeedback their symptoms were still in the ADHD range, according to the data graphs," he noted.
"I guess it's kind of promising, but the benefit is still fairly small, and I would say it is nothing to write home about. I think it's worth exploring further," Gilbert said.
Study author Steiner said more trials are needed to substantiate their findings and make recommendations for schools.