Comparison of the Effect of Cognitive Rehabilitation and Neurofeedback on Sustained Attention Among Elementary School Students With Specific Learning Disorder: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial

Basic Clin Neurosci. 2020 Jul-Aug;11(4):465-472. doi: 10.32598/bcn.11.4.1211.1. Epub 2020 Jul 1.


Introduction: Sustained Attention (SA) failure is one of the main characteristics of Specific Learning Disorders (SLD). Recent studies have reported a positive effect of Cognitive Rehabilitation (CR) and Neurofeedback (NFB) on SA in SLD. Thus, the effectiveness of CR and NFB is well understood. This preliminary study aimed to compare the effects of CR and NFB on SA among the elementary school students with SLD, using a randomized controlled clinical trial.

Methods: In this preliminary randomized controlled clinical trial, 53 eligible students with SLD (based on DSM-5) within the age range of 7 to 10 years were randomly assigned in the NFB (n=18), CR (n=18), and control group (n=17). All the participants were evaluated for SA using the Continuous Performance Test (CPT), at the time of entry to the study, and one month later. The intervention groups participated in 20 sessions of CR and 20 sessions of NFB, while the control group was evaluated without any intervention.

Results: A total number of 24 boys and 36 girls in four groups (n=15) completed the study. The Mean±SD age of the participants in the CR, NFB, and control groups were 8.66±1.48 years, 8.40±1.73 years, and 8.53±1.63 years, respectively. Results showed a significant difference in the variables of the CPT between the study groups (P<0.05). Also, the CPT scores of the CR group were higher than that of the NFB group (P<0.001).

Conclusion: This study supports that CR is more effective than NFB on SA in students with SLD.

Keywords: Cognitive rehabilitation; Neurofeedback; Specific learning disorder; Sustained attention.