QEEG Evaluation and EEG Neurofeedback Treatment of Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

QEEG Evaluation and EEG Neurofeedback Treatment of Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

The EEG (electroencephalogram) is a measure of the electrical activity in the brain. This activity is recorded from different sites over the brain where the speed (frequency) and strength (amplitude) of these signals are recorded and displayed as waveforms (brainwaves). Doctors and scientists look for deviations from normal brainwave activity in particular parts of the brain to detect neurological problems. Neurologists routinely use sophisticated EEG measures to diagnose brain-related disorders such as epilepsy and damage from head trauma.

Visit: www.qeegsupport.com/what-is-qeeg-or-brain-mapping for more information.

How is the EEG related to ADD/ADHD?

adhd kid with pencilResearch conducted over the last 30 years has identified subtle differences in the brainwave activity of people diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. Neuroscientists at the National Institute of Mental Health first learned that cellular activity in the frontal areas of the brain of children with ADD was diminished compared to the non-ADD children. Later research form university laboratories found that brainwave activity of ADD children was slower in the same frontal region. These studies also found that ADD children had much more slow brainwave activity (theta waves) than fast brainwave activity (beta waves).

Further research has shown that excessive theta, or slow wave activity, is associated with the inattentiveness, hyperactivity and distractibility characteristic of attention deficit disorder. Conversely, the faster beta activity is associated with the ability to sustain attention, control impulses, and concentrate.

What is QEEG Evaluation?

Through a process called quantitative EEG assessment (QEEG), a person’s brainwave activity can now be considered as part of a comprehensive ADD/ADHD evaluation. Such an evaluation is conducted by a clinician specifically trained in QEEG assessment using a clinical EEG instrument designed for that purpose. The QEEG is recorded in a medical setting, is read by a board-certified neurologist, technically processed and then interpreted by a team of neuroscientists to determine evidence-based treatment guidelines. The client attends a comprehensive review of the results along with treatment recommendations and rationale.

What is EEG Neurofeedback?

EEG neurofeedback is a treatment method designed to teach an individual to voluntarily alter his or her own brainwave activity. The goal of neurofeedback is to change abnormal patterns of brainwave activity so that they more closely resemble normal (optimal) activity. Neurofeedback is done with a specialized EEG instrument connected to a computer. The combined system provides immediate information (feedback) about brainwave activity.

How is EEG Neurofeedback used to treat ADD/ADHD?

Clinical EEG instruments are designed to isolate certain frequencies of brainwave activity, measured in cycles per second or Hertz (Hz) and calculate their amplitude or strength in microvolts (uV). Theta, the slow wave activity found to be excessive in ADD/ADHD patients, is in the range of 4-8 Hz. Beta activity, the faster waveform that is typically deficient, is in the 16-20 Hz range.

A neurofeedback training system rewards the patient whenever theta activity is held below a specific threshold and, at the same time, beta activity is kept above its threshold. The software is designed to be interesting to children; it provides simple games that are driven by appropriate brainwave activity. When specific criteria are met, points are earned.

The EEG neurofeedback protocol requires 30-50 treatment sessions to produce the desired effects. Ultimately, the goal is to facilitate improvements in attention, concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, brought about by a more normalized EEG.

How effective is EEG Neurofeedback treatment of ADD/ADHD?

Research has consistently shown that EEG neurofeedback can improve grade point average, IQ scores, measures on behavior rating scales and continuous performance tests such as the Test of Variable of attention (TOVA). In comparison studies, EEG neurofeedback has been shown to be at least as effective as stimulant medication for those patients who normalize their EEG patterns. What is even more impressive is that these improvements are long lasting and may even be permanent. Some ADD patients, under medical supervision, may be able to eliminate or significantly reduce medication as the result of successful treatment.

Who is a candidate for EEG Neurofeedback?

The following selection criteria are used to identify patients who are most likely to benefit from neurofeedback training for ADHD:

  • Children seven years of age or older, teens, adults
  • Average IQ or better
  • No significant mental illness (e.g. depression, psychosis)
  • Manageable hyperactivity
  • Family resources (emotional and economic) sufficient to support treatment
  • Learning disabilities considered secondary diagnosis to ADD/ADHD

Are there any reasons not to consider EEG Neurofeedback?

As with any treatment approach, there are no guarantees that EEG Neurofeedback will work for a given patient. The scientific data indicate that most patients who meet the selection criteria will benefit. Neurofeedback treatment requires substantial time and a financial commitment. It is not recommended for families for whom this would cause a hardship.

What are the costs of EEG Neurofeedback and will insurance cover them?

The cost of a QEEG evaluation is approximately $650.00. The cost of EEG Neurofeedback per visit is comparable to that of psychotherapy or counseling and may range from $85 to $120 per session. I have 10-session blocks for $750.00.

Where can I get more information about EEG Neurofeedback?

The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB), 10200 West 44th Avenue, #304, Wheat Ridge, Colorado 80033-2840, (800) 477-8892 is a good source for information about EEG neurofeedback for ADD. On the internet, you can visit the Biofeedback Society of Florida’s website at floridabiofeedback.org. AAPB’s web site at aapb.org or the Society for the Study of Neuronal Regulation at: isnr.org

The QEEG Support site – a top resource.

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Comments (2)

  • Steve Holbert Reply

    Great article! Thanks for putting that together. I did have a question though I think you could answer. Is it possible to deal with ADHD as an adult without medication? I’m been having a hard time concentrating at work and I feel tired all the time. Thanks in advance for your answer.

    February 5, 2019 at 3:47 am
    • Site Admin Reply

      Joseph West replys: “Yes, it is possible to improve attentional regulation with neurofeedback in an adult. As we age, neural plasticity decreases which means it may take more sessions. Data suggest 2 out of 3 people are successful with this approach.”

      March 2, 2019 at 5:19 pm

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