The Effects of Neurofeedback in the Default Mode Network: Pilot Study Results of Medicated Children with ADHD


  • Lori Russell-Chapin
  • Thomas Kemmerly
  • Wen-Ching Liu
  • Michael T. Zagardo
  • Theodore Chapin
  • Douglas Dailey
  • Dzung Dinh



Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have difficulty activating the Default Mode Network (DMN) in a resting or quiet state. The DMN function assists in processing and understanding a person’s internal, reflective world and the world of self and others.
Neurofeedback (NFB), a type of EEG operant conditioning, trains self-regulation skills using a brain–computer interface. The hardware and software have audio/video capabilities to correct irregular brainwave patterns and regional cerebral blood flow associated with mental health
and cognitive concerns. Individual treatment sessions usually last approximately 20 min; to gain the largest overall treatment effect, NFB users need to experience about 30 to 40 sessions. This study randomly assigned 12 children diagnosed with ADHD and currently on a stimulant medication to a treatment or control group. Subjects in the treatment group completed 40 NFB sessions. Pre- and posttest fMRIs were administered on the treatment and control groups. Evidence showed that the forty 20-min sessions of Sensory Motor Rhythm NFB consolidated the DMN allowing for appropriate activation in the posterior cingulate, precuneus, the temporoparietal junction and the cerebellar tonsils. In addition to regulating and increasing SMR at 12–15 Hz, our research results showed activation of the DMN in a resting state after 40 NFB sessions. Assisting children with ADHD to appropriately activate the DMN
may help them be more adaptive and reflective and to better understand their own internal world and the world of others.