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Treatment Efficacy and Clinical Effectiveness of EEG Neurofeedback as a Personalized and Multimodal Treatment in ADHD: A Critical Review

Authors Garcia Pimenta M, Brown T, Arns M, Enriquez-Geppert S

Received 15 October 2020

Accepted for publication 28 January 2021

Published 25 February 2021 Volume 2021:17 Pages 637—648

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S251547

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Miguel Garcia Pimenta,1 Trevor Brown,2 Martijn Arns,3– 5 Stefanie Enriquez-Geppert1,6

1Department of Clinical and Developmental Neuropsychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands; 2NeuroCare Group, Melbourne, Australia; 3Department of Psychiatry, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, Location AMC, Amsterdam Neuroscience, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; 4Research Institute Brainclinics, Brainclinics Foundation, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; 5Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands; 6Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells & Systems, Section of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands

Correspondence: Miguel Garcia Pimenta
Department of Clinical and Developmental Neuropsychology, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, Groningen, 9712 TS, the Netherlands
Tel +31 50 363 6537
Email [email protected]

Purpose: Recent reviews have proposed that scientifically validated standard EEG neurofeedback (NF) protocols are an efficacious and specific treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Here, we review the current evidence for the treatment efficacy and clinical effectiveness of NF in ADHD to investigate whether NF treatment personalization (standard protocols matched to the electrophysiological features of ADHD) and combination with other interventions (psychosocial, sleep hygiene and nutritional advice) might yield superior long-term treatment outcomes relative to non-personalized NF and medication monotreatments.
Methods: The electronic databases PubMed and PsycINFO were systematically searched using our key terms. Of the 38 resulting studies, 11 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and open-label studies were eligible for inclusion. Studies were analyzed for effect sizes and remission rates at the end of treatment and at follow-up. The effects of personalized and multimodal NF treatments were compared to non-personalized NF monotreatments and with two benchmark medication studies.
Results: The analysis of RCTs indicated that the long-term effects of personalized NF interventions were superior to non-personalized NF and comparable to those of medication alone or in combination with behavioral intervention. The analysis of open-label trials further indicates that the interaction of NF with parental interventions, sleep and nutritional advice might yield superior clinical effectiveness relative to NF and medication monotreatments.
Conclusion: Personalized and multimodal NF interventions seem to yield superior treatment efficacy relative to NF alone and superior clinical effectiveness relative to medication. We propose that treatment outcomes may be further enhanced by adjusting NF non-specific factors (eg, reinforcement contingencies) to specific ADHD characteristics (eg, reward sensitivity). Future NF research should focus on the systematic evaluation of the treatment outcomes of personalized and multimodal treatments.

Keywords: neurofeedback, ADHD, treatment efficacy, effectiveness, personalized, multimodal

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