Slow Cortical Potential Versus Live Z-score Neurofeedback in Children and Adolescents with ADHD: A Multi-arm Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial with Active and Passive Comparators

Res Child Adolesc Psychopathol. 2021 Sep 3. doi: 10.1007/s10802-021-00858-1. Online ahead of print.


Neurofeedback (NF) as a treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been evaluated in several trials, but the specificity and generalizability of effects remain unclear. This four-arm randomized controlled trial evaluated the efficacy of Slow Cortical Potential (SCP; standard NF protocol) and Live Z-score (LZS; non-standard NF protocol) delivered in high-frequency format (five sessions per week during five weeks), compared to Working-memory training (WMT; active comparator) and Treatment-as-usual (TAU; passive comparator). N = 202 children/adolescents aged 9 to 17 years with ADHD participated. The primary outcome measure was multi-report (self-, teacher-, and parent-report) ADHD core symptoms on the Conners-3, assessed at baseline, posttreatment, and 6-months follow-up. Data were analyzed using a linear mixed model. Between-group differences were scarce and did not show a distinct pattern. Superiority of LZS over TAU at endpoint were observed for teacher-rated measures only, while significant differences between SCP and TAU were restricted to posttreatment measurements. Contrary to our expectations, LZS outperformed SCP at endpoint for teacher-rated hyperactivity (-5.37; 95% CI: -10.14 to -0.60; p = .028; d = -.36) and overall ADHD symptoms (-2.20; -4.18 to -0.22; p = .030; d = -.41). There was no indication that either form of NF was superior to WMT. No severe adverse events were reported during the trial, whereas transient stress-related problems were quite frequent. Overall, the results from this pragmatic trial do not provide convincing support for broad implementation of NF in child and adolescent psychiatric services. Future research should try to clarify for whom and under what circumstances NF might be a viable treatment option.

PMID:34478006 | DOI:10.1007/s10802-021-00858-1

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