Neurofeedback Research and Publications

There are over 900 studies resulting in over 300 pubmed peer-reviewed papers that have been published on neurofeedback.  Research began in the 1960’s.  While most studies are not the “gold standard”, i.e.  double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials, a few are.  The most research has been done around ADHD.  Even around ADHD, famous clinicians disagree around the state of the research, as follows:

Frank Duffy:

“The literature, which lacks any negative study of substance, suggests that EEG biofeedback therapy should play a major therapeutic role in many difficult areas.  In my opinion, if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy, it would be universally accepted and widely used.

Duffy, 2000:  Clinical Electroencephalography

However, not everyone agrees!!  Russell Barkley, also very renowned in the ADHD world, in 2001 said:

“Neurofeedback should continue to be viewed as an unproven and highly experimental treatment for ADHD at best…”

Barkley, 2001: ADHD Letter.  (A 2010 New York Times article here on Neurofeedback claims Barkley is, to some extent, “taking another look” at neurofeedback’s success)

Certainly, for conditions I treat such as PTSD and other brain-based disturbances that play out in the emotions and behaviors, there has been a lot more research done on therapy and medication than on neurofeedback.  (Aside: if therapy and/or medication has given you complete relief, great!  And if you haven’t tried it yet, it could be well worth trying.  It helps many, and is likely less expensive for those it helps readily).  We continue to work on important research with PTSD and many other disorders with neurofeedback.  Of note:

This 2016 study showed changes in brain connectivity and vastly improved symptom reports for PTSD:

Andrew A. Nicholson, Tomas Ros, Paul A. Frewen, Maria Densmore, Jean Theberge, Rosemarie C. Kleutsch, Ruth A. Lanius: Alpha oscillation neurofeedback modulates amygdala complex connectivity and arousal in posttraumatic stress disorder

In fact, the above study showed the brain connectivity by using fMRI scans pre and post the neurofeedback treatments.  These expensive scans are hard to get funding for, so this is a highly unusual study, with excellent data.   But its importance also lies in that the treatment was so effective in many crucial ways.

Comparing two other neurofeedback protocols for PTSD, Bessel van der Kolk’s Trauma Center is associated with this not yet published, but important work:

Mark Gapen, Bessel A. van der Kolk, Ed. Hamlin, Laurence Hirshberg, Michael Suvak, Joseph Spinazzola: A Pilot Study of Neurofeedback for Chronic PTSD

But my informed consent forms explain that much of the recommendation is based also on individual case studies, some of which are described in the following important works:

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk, MD

Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Developmental Trauma: Calming the Fear Driven Brain, by Sebern Fisher, MA

I am fortunate to consult with Sebern Fisher on my clinical neurofeedback work on an ongoing basis.  It was hearing about her work that convinced me to add this to my practice.  It is now rewarding to often see work progress more quickly and the symptoms to relieve more completely when this option is added to the therapeutic menu.

To find out more about neurofeedback, including research, a good resource is http://www.aboutneurofeedback.com/.

Contact me at 978-771-4154 or cs@freshapproachtherapy.com, so we can have a conversation to see if these services are a good match for you.



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