Neurofeedback Treatment of Two Children with Learning, Attention, Mood, Social, and Developmental Deficits


  • Edward H. Jacobs



Background. Neurofeedback is biofeedback training of EEG activity through an operant conditioning process by which the individual is trained to increase or inhibit the brain’s production of electrical activity in specific frequency ranges. Studies have demonstrated efficacy with a variety of disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning problems, and autistic features. This paper describes the application of neurofeedback in a clinical setting with two complex children who manifested multiple diagnoses, including learning disabilities (LD), ADHD, social deficits, mood disorders, and pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). Both boys had adjusted poorly to school, family, and peers. Methods. Subjects were referred to the author’s clinical practice. They received individualized protocols based on their symptoms and functional impairments. They were administered semi-weekly 20-minute sessions of one-channel neurofeedback training for approximately six months. In both cases symptoms were identified and tracked with a parent rating scale and one case, with the Symptom Assessment–45 Questionnaire (SA-45) also. Results. Each boy improved in all tracked symptoms without adverse effects. One improved on most measures of the SA-45 with no deterioration on any measure. Functional improvements in academic functioning, home behavior, and peer relationships were indicated. Conclusions. Neurofeedback was a successful treatment for these two multi-symptomatic and diagnosed boys, whose improvements surpassed the gains made with previous therapies. The advantages of neurofeedback include the relative absence of observable adverse effects, the lack of reliance on medication with its possible side effects and noncompliance, and the possibility of long-term gains without continued intervention.