Neurofeedback and Biofeedback

17th October 2023

Biofeedback is an alternative treatment that has become popular and that has reported some success in the treatment of ADHD. It provides feedback from the monitoring on EEG brain waves to the client. Visual graphics on a computer screen are used while the brain wave active of directed concentration from the client are measured with feedback from EEG waves. The client learns to focus attention in specific areas of the brain, and a reward system is used, giving feedback. The client then learns to focus his attention in the area of the brain, the frontal area in the case of ADHD, thus strengthening, through training, that area.

Early neurofeedback device. 1980's.

Dr. David Rabiner defines Neurofeedback, "Also known as EEG Biofeedback - is an approach for treating ADHD in which individuals are provided real-time feedback on their brainwave activity and taught to alter their typical EEG pattern to one that is consistent with a focused and attentive state. According to neurofeedback proponents, when this occurs, improved attention and reduced hyperactive/impulsive behavior will result."

The goals of Biofeedback are:

  • Stabilizing overall brain function by strengthening the brain's ability to routinely produce brainwaves in healthy ranges.
  • Improving the ability of the brain to shift from one brainwave state to another smoothly and effectively and then stay there as long as needed.
  • Improving brain functioning in localized areas of the brain associated with specific problems an individual is experiencing.

Biofeedback has also been used for anxieties, bipolar disorder and other mental health difficulties.

Is Neurofeedback/Biofeedback Effctive?

Is Neurofeedback (biofeedback) an effective treatment for ADHD? There is not universal agreement on the subject, however, it seems as if it can be an effective treatment for some. The National Resource Center on AD/HD, CHADD's information center, lists the following ratings for biofeedback:

1.The American Psychological Association (APA) considers biofeedback for ADHD to be "Probably Efficacious," the third category in a scale of 1 to 5.

2. Other Researchers, including the CHADD Professional Advisory Board (PAB) lists biofeedback as "Possibly Efficacious," a slightly lower rating. 2 on a scale of 1 to 5.

3. But also, CHADD holds that neurofeedback is a valid "Option," one level below Clinical Guidelines, in terms of the 4 level rating system of the AACAP. 3 on a scale of 1 to 4.

4.The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) uses a four level scale and rates neurofeedback as being reaching the third level of the four level scale in terms of "Clinical Guidelines," one removed from the highest rating. 3 on a scale of 3 to 4.

How biofeedback works

Why it works

Biofeeback or Neurofeedback, might be likened to mind strenghtening exercises. If we had some sort of physical disability such as a stroke which weakened the use in one hand, a physical therapist might encourage squeezing a rubber ball for several sessions each day.

Biofeedback is basically the same idea, with the mind. It provides regular sessions whereby the client can exercise the mind, concentrating and controlling one's thoughts in a fixed location or direction. Thus the client gains self control and more strength over his will and behavior. Biofeedback can also target specific emotions to try to control.

This is why art also is so efficacious in similar mental health disorders, the principle being very similar to that of Biofeeback. It teaches a person to focus his attention on a specific point over an extended period of time. It requires concentration and precision. The artist has lost a sense of time and the extended focus develops the mental strenght and can lead to a better sense of self control and self efficacy.


Art or biofeedback are not the complete answer to mental health disorders. But they can be a part of an effective non-pharmaceutical program that can help a person successful overcome many mental health disorders in a way that is possibly more effective than reliance on pharmaceuticals and with no side effects, short or long term, rather, postive side effects.

The conclusion is, biofeedback can be an effective though costly tool for some children and adults in conjunction with other therapy methods and lifestyle changes.


Attention Research Update. Dr. David Rabiner, Duke University.
9/12/07 Newsletter. Extracted 4/2/08.

Source: National Resource Center on AD/HD.: A Program of CHADD.
Neurofeedback – An Effective Alternative Treatment for AD/HD?
NRC News ADHD Newsletter. 3/31/08. Extracted 4/02/08.

3. Neurofeedback Today, Dr. David Bissette. Extracted 4/02/08.