A review of neurofeedback treatment for pediatric ADHD

J Atten Disord. 2012 Jul;16(5):351-72. doi: 10.1177/1087054711427530. Epub 2011 Nov 16.


Objective: The aim of this paper was to review all randomized published trials and unpublished conference presentations on the neurofeedback (NF) treatment of pediatric ADHD, and their relevance, strengths, and limitations.

Method: Via PsychInfo and Medline searches and contacts with NF researchers 14 studies were identified and reviewed.

Results: The majority were conducted from 1994 to 2010, with 5- to 15-year-olds, usually male and White with the combined type of ADHD. Most studies used theta/beta NF with a unipolar-electrode placement at Cz and demonstrated, where reported, an overall ADHD mean effect size of d = 0.69, a medium effect. Main study strengths, within some studies, include use of randomization, treatment control conditions, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria, evidence-based assessment of ADHD, standard treatment outcome measures, multidomain assessment, and, for some studies, moderate sample size, some type of blind and the identification of medication as a concomitant treatment. Main study limitations (and directions for future research) include the lack of adequate blinding of participants, raters and NF trainers, a sham-NF/blinded control treatment condition, posttreatment follow-up, generalizability, specific details about delivery of NF, identification and control of comorbidity, and the identification, measurement, and control of concomitant treatments and potential side effects.

Conclusion: Based on the results and methodologies of published studies, this review concludes that NF for pediatric ADHD can be currently considered as "probably efficacious."

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurofeedback*
  • Treatment Outcome