Neurofeedback for ADHD: How It Can Help Hyperactive Kids
We can think of neurofeedback for ADHD ( also known as EEG Biofeedback)as a means of monitoring the body through the mind.
Most of us are not aware of the way our brain's electrical activity can affect our emotions and behavior. It is a form of treatment using a monitoring device that provides immediate feedback of brain electrical activity to the child, allowing him or her to learn what positive changes in the body, emotions and mind feel like. In this sense, EEG Biofeedback manages behavior by controlling the brain.
Because hyperactivity is mainly a problem with the proper functioning of the frontal lobes, proponents of neurofeedback claim that by monitoring and training brain wave activity, this self-regulating therapy can bring about changes in the child's behavior.
How Effective is Neurofeedback for ADHD?
A new study conducted in Germany suggests that neurofeedback for ADHD provides dramatic results for hyperactive children.
102 children aged 8-12 were randomly assigned to two treatment options - 36 sessions of neurofeedback training or 36 sessions of computerized attention training.
These children have all been diagnosed with ADHD; over 90 have never received medication and 80% of the children were boys.
Children in both groups took part in 2-3 training sessions per week. In EEG Biofeedback group, children learned to create and sustain a state of focused attention by monitoring their body responses. These children received direct feedback on their EEG state.
Children in the computerized attention training (the control group) were given systematic exercises to train their visual and auditory perception, attention and reactivity; however
these children received no direct feedback of their EEG state.
How does Neurofeedback for ADHD Work?
A child is hooked up to an EEG brainwave monitor. One electrode measures the heart's electrocardiogram; another monitors the muscle activity or EMG.
The monitor "translates" the EEG into 4 brain wave patterns - delta, theta, alpha, low beta, high beta. The purpose is to locate the SMR or the sensorimotor rhythm which is at 12 to 15 hertz or the low beta frequency.
What is SMR?
SMR is what most people call the relaxed,alert state of mind we get when we meditate or just before we fall asleep. It is an inhibition wave that is associated with calmness and alertness; its rhythm is very distinct in its "controlling" function; it inhibits impulses.
A child who cannot tune out distractions is often fidgety and restless. Such a child has low SMR. An increase in his experience of SMR frequencies can change the dynamics of his behavior.
Because SMR is associated with calmness and alertness (as experienced by people who are meditating), it allows the child to function at peak levels without being distracted.
ADHD children have an excessive amount of theta, the slow brain wave which means that their sense of time has been slowed down. Because they react to this slowness with a ramped up response to events,their hyperactivity could be a direct result of this misperception of time.
What normal people would consider a short period of time is perhaps too long for the ADHD child; if this is the case, his fidgeting and hyperactivity can easily be explained as a form of "time lapse."
How does Neurofeedback for ADHD Help the Child?
The monitor teaches the child what it feels like when his brain is at the SMR level. Through practice, he can automatically arrive at the SMR level when he needs to calm down. Eventually, he learns self-regulation and self-control.
The SMR rhythm also allows the brain to be responsive to learning. When the brain is functioning at low beta frequency, it is open to making neural and synaptic connections which form the basis of learning. Learning takes place when neurons fuse together into new entities and circuitry; their ability to do so is best when the brain is relaxed and alert.
What are the Advantages of Neurofeedback for ADHD?
Proponents of neurofeedback claim that this form of self-regulating training is better than using prescription medication which comes with a host of issues of their own.
Neurofeedback for ADHD children appears often in the form of video games that help moderate brain activity in the child. These therapy sessions are therefore seen as fun.
The child is asked to learn self-control which has tremendous benefits in terms of self-empowerment.The SMR state is also known as the meditative state. Conditioning the brain for relaxation response is definitely a health benefit.
Parents seeking effective and natural remedies for their hyperactive children should consult their physician regarding the use of neurofeedback.
Disclaimer: The above information is meant only to inform and should never displace professional consultation.