EEG and behavioral changes following neurofeedback treatment in learning disabled children

Clin Electroencephalogr. 2003 Jul;34(3):145-52. doi: 10.1177/155005940303400308.


Neurofeedback (NFB) is an operant conditioning procedure, by which the subject learns to control his/her EEG activity. On one hand, Learning Disabled (LD) children have higher values of theta EEG absolute and relative power than normal children, and on the other hand, it has been shown that minimum alpha absolute power is necessary for adequate performance. Ten LD children were selected with higher than normal ratios of theta to alpha absolute power (theta/alpha). The Test Of Variables of Attention (TOVA) was applied. Children were divided into two groups in order to maintain similar IQ values, TOVA values, socioeconomical status, and gender for each group. In the experimental group, NFB was applied in the region with highest ratio, triggering a sound each time the ratio fell below a threshold value. Noncontingent reinforcement was given to the other group. Twenty half-hour sessions were applied, at a rate of 2 per week. At the end of the 20 sessions, TOVA, WISC and EEG were obtained. There was significant improvement in WISC performance in the experimental group that was not observed in the control group. EEG absolute power decreased in delta, theta, alpha and beta bands in the experimental group. Control children only showed a decrease in relative power in the delta band. All changes observed in the experimental group and not observed in the control group indicate better cognitive performance and the presence of greater EEG maturation in the experimental group, which suggests that changes were due not only to development but also to NFB treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Behavior
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / methods*
  • Child
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis*
  • Learning Disabilities / therapy*
  • Male
  • Placebo Effect
  • Treatment Outcome