Neurotherapy Research Abstracts

I've provided abstracts for a few of the latest studies below just to give you a sense of the research on some of the clinical applications of neurotherapy. If you are interested in looking at a more complete listing please check out the Comprehensive Neurofeedback Bibliography.

Effect of neurofeedback training on the neural substrates of selective attention in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study.

Lévesque J, Beauregard M, Mensour B.

Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychologie Expérimentale et Cognition (CERNEC), Département de psychologie, Université de Montréal, Canada.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder mainly characterized by impairments in cognitive functions. Functional neuroimaging studies carried out in individuals with AD/HD have shown abnormal functioning of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) during tasks involving selective attention. In other respects, there is mounting evidence that neurofeedback training (NFT) can significantly improve cognitive functioning in AD/HD children. In this context, the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study was conducted to measure the effect of NFT on the neural substrates of selective attention in children with AD/HD. Twenty AD/HD children--not taking any psychostimulant and without co-morbidity-participated to the study. Fifteen children were randomly assigned to the Experimental (EXP) group (NFT), whereas the other five children were assigned to the Control (CON) group (no NFT). Subjects from both groups were scanned 1 week before the beginning of the NFT (Time 1) and 1 week after the end of this training (Time 2), while they performed a Counting Stroop task. At Time 1, for both groups, the Counting Stroop task was associated with significant loci of activation in the left superior parietal lobule. No activation was noted in the ACC. At Time 2, for both groups, the Counting Stroop task was still associated with significant activation of the left superior parietal lobule. This time, however, for the EXP group only there was a significant activation of the right ACC. These results suggest that in AD/HD children, NFT has the capacity to normalize the functioning of the ACC, the key neural substrate of selective attention. Neuroscience Letters, Volume 394, Issue 3, 20 February 2006, Pages 216-221, ISSN 0304-3940, DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2005.10.100. (

A theory of alpha/theta neurofeedback, creative performance enhancement, long distance functional connectivity and psychological integration.

Gruzelier J.

Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, Lewisham Way, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW, UK.

Professionally significant enhancement of music and dance performance and mood has followed training with an EEG-neurofeedback protocol which increases the ratio of theta to alpha waves using auditory feedback with eyes closed. While originally the protocol was designed to induce hypnogogia, a state historically associated with creativity, the outcome was psychological integration, while subsequent applications focusing on raising the theta-alpha ratio, reduced depression and anxiety in alcoholism and resolved post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). In optimal performance studies we confirmed associations with creativity in musical performance, but effects also included technique and communication. We extended efficacy to dance and social anxiety. Diversity of outcome has a counterpart in wide ranging associations between theta oscillations and behaviour in cognitive and affective neuroscience: in animals with sensory-motor activity in exploration, effort, working memory, learning, retention and REM sleep; in man with meditative concentration, reduced anxiety and sympathetic autonomic activation, as well as task demands in virtual spatial navigation, focussed and sustained attention, working and recognition memory, and having implications for synaptic plasticity and long term potentiation. Neuroanatomical circuitry involves the ascending mescencephalic-cortical arousal system, and limbic circuits subserving cognitive as well as affective/motivational functions. Working memory and meditative bliss, representing cognitive and affective domains, respectively, involve coupling between frontal and posterior cortices, exemplify a role for theta and alpha waves in mediating the interaction between distal and widely distributed connections. It is posited that this mediation in part underpins the integrational attributes of alpha-theta training in optimal performance and psychotherapy, creative associations in hypnogogia, and enhancement of technical, communication and artistic domains of performance in the arts. Cognitive processing, 10 Suppl 1, S101-9.

EEG biofeedback as a treatment for substance use disorders: review, rating of efficacy, and recommendations for further research.

Sokhadze TM, Cannon RL, Trudeau DL.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY, USA.

Electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback has been employed in substance use disorder (SUD) over the last three decades. The SUD is a complex series of disorders with frequent comorbidities and EEG abnormalities of several types. EEG biofeedback has been employed in conjunction with other therapies and may be useful in enhancing certain outcomes of therapy. Based on published clinical studies and employing efficacy criteria adapted by the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback and the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research, alpha theta training-either alone for alcoholism or in combination with beta training for stimulant and mixed substance abuse and combined with residential treatment programs, is probably efficacious. Considerations of further research design taking these factors into account are discussed and descriptions of contemporary research are given.

Free full text of this article available at PubMed Central.


Neurofeedback for treating tinnitus.

Dohrmann K, Weisz N, Schlee W, Hartmann T, Elbert T.

University of Konstanz, Department of Psychology, Konstanz, Germany.

Many individuals with tinnitus have abnormal oscillatory brain activity. Led by this finding, we have developed a way to normalize such pathological activity by neurofeedback techniques (Weisz et al. (2005). PLoS Med., 2: e153). This is achieved mainly through enhancement of tau activity, i.e., oscillatory activity produced in perisylvian regions within the alpha frequency range (8-12 Hz) and concomitant reduction in delta power range (0.5-4 Hz). This activity is recorded from electrodes placed on the frontal scalp. We have found that modification of the tau-to-delta ratio significantly reduces tinnitus intensity. Participants who successfully modified their oscillatory pattern profited from the treatment to the extent that the tinnitus sensation became completely abolished. Overall, this neurofeedback training was significantly superiorin reducing tinnitus-related distress than frequency discrimination training. Prog Brain Res, 166, 473-85.

Foundation and practice of neurofeedback for the treatment of epilepsy.

Sterman MB, Egner T.

Department of Neurobiology, School of Medicine, UCLA, USA.

This review provides an updated overview of the neurophysiological rationale, basic and clinical research literature, and current methods of practice pertaining to clinical neurofeedback. It is based on documented findings, rational theory, and the research and clinical experience of the authors. While considering general issues of physiology, learning principles, and methodology, it focuses on the treatment of epilepsy with sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) training, arguably the best established clinical application of EEG operant conditioning. The basic research literature provides ample data to support a very detailed model of the neural generation of SMR, as well as the most likely candidate mechanism underlying its efficacy in clinical treatment. Further, while more controlled clinical trials would be desirable, a respectable literature supports the clinical utility of this alternative treatment for epilepsy. However, the skilled practice of clinical neurofeedback requires a solid understanding of the neurophysiology underlying EEG oscillation, operant learning principles and mechanisms, as well as an in-depth appreciation of the ins and outs of the various hardware/software equipment options open to the practitioner. It is suggested that the best clinical practice includes the systematic mapping of quantitative multi-electrode EEG measures against a normative database before and after treatment to guide the choice of treatment strategy and document progress towards EEG normalization. We conclude that the research literature reviewed in this article justifies the assertion that neurofeedback treatment of epilepsy/seizure disorders constitutes a well-founded and viable alternative to anticonvulsant pharmacotherapy. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback 2006 Mar;31(1):21-35.

The effects of stimulant therapy, EEG biofeedback, and parenting style on the primary symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Monastra VJ, Monastra DM, George S.

FPI Attention Disorders Clinic, 2102 E. Main Street, Endicott, New York 13760, USA.

One hundred children, ages 6-19, who were diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), either inattentive or combined types, participated in a study examining the effects of Ritalin, EEG biofeedback, and parenting style on the primary symptoms of ADHD. All of the patients participated in a 1-year, multimodal, outpatient program that included Ritalin, parent counseling, and academic support at school (either a 504 Plan or an IEP). Fifty-one of the participants also received EEG biofeedback therapy. Posttreatment assessments were conducted both with and without stimulant therapy. Significant improvement was noted on the Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA; L. M. Greenberg, 1996) and the Attention Deficit Disorders Evaluation Scale (ADDES; S. B. McCarney, 1995) when participants were tested while using Ritalin. However, only those who had received EEG biofeedback sustained these gains when tested without Ritalin. The results of a Quantitative Electroencephalographic Scanning Process (QEEG-Scan; V. J. Monastra et al., 1999) revealed significant reduction in cortical slowing only in patients who had received EEG biofeedback. Behavioral measures indicated that parenting style exerted a significant moderating effect on the expression of behavioral symptoms at home but not at school. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2002 Dec;27(4):231-49.