Training the Brain with Neurofeedback? Hogwash!

Train the Brain

As I was sitting in my office one fine November morning minding my own business, along comes a radio program on NPR that just about flipped me on the floor flat on my back!  It was about a mother and her son, who had gone through a program of “neurofeedback” ( aka, biofeedback ) as a treatment for her son’s ADHD.  I say “phooey!”


What is Neurofeedback, anyways?

Go ahead, give the radio show a listen and you’ll find out what people “say” neurofeedback is. (You already know what I think.)   Train the Brain: Using Neurofeedback to Treat ADHD

Throughout the program, NPR gives neurofeedback a platform—describing how it’s done, how researchers are trying to determine its validity, and how expensive it is. They state how researchers are hoping one day to discover its validity as a treatment for ADHD, given plenty of time and money to keep working at it.  At the end of the program, the mother repudiates neurofeedback as ineffective in addressing the ADHD symptoms of her son, but says that she and her son developed a more positive relationship after spending a lot of time together going back and forth to the very expensive neurofeedback sessions.   

So, what have we learned class?

What we have here is a beautiful example of how otherwise intelligent people will fall prey to the most charlatan of treatment methods (already disproven many times) hoping it will resolve their frustration in managing an array of complex ADHD symptoms. 

 They think because they are paying a lot of money for it, there must be some positive outcome. Why else would these reputable professionals offer it as a service?

Short answer: to make money.

We should be using more common sense!

There are very basic procedures that have a long track record of being effective at least 90% of the time. 

What we know about treating ADHD that works is simple positive reinforcement of desired behavior.  Every kid knows that and every corporate president knows it. Some, with a cynical view of life, describe it as bribery.  I say, “So what!”  My approach keeps the eye on the bottom line:  results.  Several researchers have written books on how to implement such programs and they have also done exacting research on this treatment method and proven its effectiveness.  These people include Russell Barkley, Steven Pliszka, Gabrielle Weiss, and Patricia Quinn to name a few.

Concerned or reluctant about using medication for treating ADHD?

I have done enough work in this field to know that it IS possible
to treat ADHD WITHOUT medication using proven methods that are not expensive!

These methods involve managing the three main environments of children: home, school, and social groups. Each arena is engineered and managed in such a fashion that the child learns different ways of regulating themselves in each environment so that the symptoms of ADHD are minimized and tolerated.    

The key behind successful treatment, is symptom regulation not symptom eradication.

 Although we would love to have that, it’s not possible. As an ADHD child gets older, symptoms become attenuated for many different reasons, but do not completely “go away”.  It is the eventual accommodation of the child/adult to their environment that defines success in treatment.  And the goodness of fit between the environment and child is at least 50% of the equation for success.

For more information about “drug-free” treatment of ADHD, give me a call at 205.329.7100 or email me at

Talk with you soon!


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