The Effectiveness of Visual Short-Time Neurofeedback on Brain Activity and Clinical Characteristics in Alcohol Use Disorders: Practical Issues and Results

Clin EEG Neurosci. 2016 Jul;47(3):188-95. doi: 10.1177/1550059415605686. Epub 2015 Sep 27.


The present study was carried out to examine the efficacy of alpha/theta neurofeedback (NF) with a new visual paradigm in a cohort of alcohol use disordered (AUD) patients (n = 25) treated in an Austrian therapeutic community center. The experimental study design focused on changes in absolute and relative resting EEG band power as well as in clinical variables, including depression (Beck Depresion Inventory [BDI-V]), psychiatric symptoms (Brief Symptom Inventory [BSI], coping (Freiburg Questionnaire on Coping with Illness [FKV-lis]), psychotherapy motivation (Therapy Motivation Questionnaire [FPTM-23]), sense of coherence (Sense of Coherence Scale [SOC-13]), posttraumatic growth (Posttraumatic Growth Inventory [PPR]), and alcohol cravings (Alcohol Craving Questionnaire [ACQ]). For measuring training effects, participants were randomly allocated to 2 groups: an experimental group (EG, n = 13) and a control group (CG, n = 12). Patients in EG received 12 sessions of visual NF training over a period of 6 weeks to enhance alpha (8-12 Hz) and theta (4-7 Hz) frequency band power in addition to the standard treatment program of the rehabilitation center. Participants in CG received no additional NF intervention. The multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) showed a change by trend in absolute alpha and theta power in the EG. Even though no MANCOVA effects were found in the clinical scales, AUD patients reported increasing control of their brain activity during the course of NF. However, changes in several clinical scales (BDI-V, BSI, FKV-lis, PPR) from pre- to posttest were observed only in the EG contrary to the CG. The findings of this pilot study provide first evidence for the practicality and effectiveness of visual short-term NF as an additive intervention in the therapeutic community.

Keywords: alcohol use disorder; electroencephalography; neurofeedback; therapeutic community.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Brain Waves*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Feedback, Sensory*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurofeedback / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Treatment Outcome