As neurofeedback is increasingly practised as a treatment for ADHD, research on whether the clinical benefits are sustained even once the treatment itself has ended is necessary. In 2018, van Doren and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis on 10 recent studies which used neurofeedback to treat ADHD in children and adolescents. Importantly, all these studies included follow-up sessions to remeasure behavioural symptoms. These follow-ups ranged from 2 to 12 months after ending treatment. The researchers also compared neurofeedback to other treatments, including medication, self-management training, cognitive training, attention training, and physical activity training.
When the researchers compared behaviour ratings before and after neurofeedback treatment, they found moderate benefits across the 10 studies, verifying established views that neurofeedback provides short-term benefits. However, differences were not significant when they compared ratings at the end of neurofeedback treatment with the follow-up, meaning behaviour did not worsen again after the treatment had ended. This strongly suggests that benefits from neurofeedback are not limited to the short-term, but are enduring.
The researchers then compared neurofeedback to the other treatments. While the clinical benefits of medication and self-management training did appear to be greater than that of neurofeedback when comparing symptoms before and after treatment, neurofeedback was at least as effective at the follow-up stage. Neurofeedback was superior to the other remaining treatments. Furthermore, the researchers note that some studies reported even further improvements in neurofeedback patients rated again at another 2-year follow-up – a tendency which does exist for any of the other treatments this far on from the end of the treatment period.
In contributing to the overwhelming literature supporting the efficacy of neurofeedback, van Doren and colleagues concluded that current research on neurofeedback supports its durable effects in treating ADHD.
van Doren, J., Arns, M., Heinrich, H., Vollebregt, M. A., Strehl, U., & Loo, S. K. (2018). Sustained effects of neurofeedback in ADHD: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. doi:10.1007/s00787-018-1121-4