Preliminary Real-World Evidence Supporting the Efficacy of a Remote Neurofeedback System in Improving Mental Health: Retrospective Single-Group Pretest-Posttest Study

JMIR Form Res. 2022 Jul 8;6(7):e35636. doi: 10.2196/35636.


Background: Neurofeedback training (NFT) has been shown to be effective in treating several disorders (eg, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], anxiety, and depression); however, little is currently known regarding the effectiveness of remote NFT systems.

Objective: This retrospective study provides real-world data (N=593) to assess the efficacy of app-based remote NFT in improving brain health and cognitive performance.

Methods: Improvement was measured from pre- to postintervention of in-app assessments that included validated symptom questionnaires (the 12-item General Health Questionnaire, the ADHD Rating Scale IV, the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale, the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale, and the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire), a cognitive test of attention and executive functioning (ie, continuous performance task), and resting electroencephalography (EEG) markers. Clinically significant improvement was evaluated using standard approaches.

Results: The greatest improvement was reported for the anxiety questionnaire, for which 69% (68/99) of participants moved from abnormal to healthy score ranges. Overall, adult and child participants who engaged in neurofeedback to improve attention and executive functions demonstrated improved ADHD scores and enhanced performance on a cognitive (ie, response inhibition) task. Adults with ADHD additionally demonstrated elevated delta/alpha and theta/alpha ratios at baseline and a reduction in the delta/alpha ratio indicator following neurofeedback.

Conclusions: Preliminary findings suggest the efficacy of app-based remote neurofeedback in improving mental health, given the reduced symptom severity from pre- to postassessment for general psychological health, ADHD, anxiety, and depression, as well as adjusted resting EEG neural markers for individuals with symptoms of ADHD. Collectively, this supports the utility of the in-app assessment in monitoring behavioral and neural indices of mental health.

Keywords: EEG biofeedback; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; delta/alpha ratio; neurofeedback; remote care.