Neurofeedback is an investigational therapy being tested and
marketed for a variety of psychiatric and substance abuse
disorders. Most of the research on neurofeedback has evaluated its
use for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Although sometimes likened to physical therapy for the brain,
neurofeedback is actually a form of biofeedback. The goal is to
help a patient learn how to control an unconscious physiological
function — in this case, electrical activity in the brain. In
psychological terms, neurofeedback attempts operant conditioning,
in which a person learns to modify behavior based on rewards and
About two dozen studies have been published about neurofeedback for
ADHD, and many have reported promising results. But most of them
involved only small numbers of patients, were not randomized, and
lacked a placebo intervention. As such, they lacked controls for
confounding mechanisms such as attention training or bias on the
part of investigators or participants.
Only three randomized controlled studies have been published on
neurofeedback for ADHD and are available through Medline. The most
recent, also the best designed, reported positive results, although
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