Researchers from the University of Göttingen in Germany sought to validate claims from small, insufficiently controlled studies that neurofeedback (NF) reduces inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In a multi-site, randomized, controlled study using a computerized attention skills training protocol for the control condition, 102 children with ADHD, aged 8 to 12 years, were included in the study.

Children were randomized to the intervention - 36 sessions of NF training - or the control condition – 36 sessions of computerized attention skills training - within two blocks of about four weeks each. 

The combined NF treatment consisted of one block of theta/beta training and one block of slow cortical potential (SCP) training. Pre-training, intermediate and post-training assessment included several behavior rating scales (e.g., the German ADHD rating scale, FBB-HKS) completed by parents and teachers.  Evaluation ('placebo') scales were applied to the control condition to equalize parental expectations and assess their satisfaction with the treatment.

For parent and teacher ratings, improvements in the NF group were superior to those of the control group. For the parent-rated FBB-HKS total score (primary outcome measure), the effect size was .60.  Comparable effects were obtained for the two NF protocols (theta/beta training, SCP training). Parental attitude towards the treatment did not differ between the NF and the control group.

The study concludes that the combined NF training demonstrated clinical efficacy for NF in children with ADHD.

Gevensleben H, Holl B, Albrecht B, Vogel C, Schlamp D, Kratz O, Studer P, Rothenberger A, Moll GH, Heinrich H.  Is neurofeedback an efficacious treatment for ADHD? A randomised controlled clinical trialJ Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2009 Jul;50(7):780-9. Epub 2009 Jan 12.