The Efficacy of Attention Training For Children with ADHD: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study
Roger deBeus, PhD, and J.D. Ball, PhD
Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia
This study’s main objectives were to recruit children with a primary diagnosis of ADHD to participate in an attention training (EEG biofeedback) paradigm to determine the effect of this treatment on the cardinal symptoms of ADHD. This was the first study to utilize a placebo condition and double-blind interface with this type of treatment.
The design of the study consisted of a diagnostic workup, 40 sessions (with a crossover after 20 sessions), and pre-, mid-, and post-assessments. Testing measurements were parent, teacher, and self-report rating scales, and a continuous performance test. During the sessions each child played Sony PlayStation games with an active sensor placed at FZ. The children were randomized into two groups. Group 1 received 20 sessions of brainwave-modulated videogames and then received 20 sessions with the videogames while brainwave activity was monitored. Group 2 received treatment in the opposite order.
Results are based on 53 seven- to 11-year-old children. The primary analysis used in this study was Hierarchical Multivariate Linear Modeling (HMLM). The outcome measures used to determine the efficacy of this intervention (experimental vs. placebo-control) were divided into five domains: (a) ADHD Symptoms (b) Aggression & Conduct Problems, (c) Internalizing Symptoms, (d) Adaptive Skills, and (e) Academic Performance. There were ten significant findings (p < .000) across all the domains for the experimental group compared to the control group.
In summary, the attention training via EEG biofeedback showed many significant improvements in the experimental versus the placebo-control condition. Some of the measured improvements included: (a) reduced hyperactivity and improved attention, (b) less aggressive behaviors, (c) better adaptability to change, interacting more successfully with others, and improved organizational skills; and (d) children showed improved responding and attention on a computerized attention task.