Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Madelon van Beek-Vollebregt (Donders series 215)

17 May 2016

Promotors: prof. dr. J.K. Buitelaar, prof. dr. O. Jensen, copromotor: dr. D. Slaats-Willemse

Neuronal oscillations in children with ADHD. A journey towards the development of potential new treatments for children with ADHD

EEG-neurofeedback has been proposed as a non-pharmacological treatment option for children with ADHD. Vollebregt and colleagues designed a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study to study its efficacy. Both the behavioral and neurocognitive outcome of current daily practice EEG-neurofeedback in children with ADHD were investigated. Results did not provide evidence for a positive treatment effect in children with ADHD that was superior to placebo on either level. These results are in line with the current literature showing no effect of EEG-neurofeedback on blinded measures of ADHD symptomatology. However, it would be interesting to test if methodologically improved neurofeedback paradigms could work.

Vollebregt and colleagues subsequently investigated lateralized alpha modulation – which is usually measured in healthy adults when top-down directing attention – using EEG both in typically developing children and in children with ADHD. Results showed that typically developing 7-10 year old children already displayed a similar pattern of lateralized alpha modulations during covert attentional performance as adults did in previous research. Boys with ADHD however, did not show such a pattern. For girls, we could not confirm a difference between ADHD and typical development due to a low sample-size.

All in all, with these results Vollebregt and colleagues gave some clues on the potential underlying mechanisms of ADHD, thereby generated new research questions that need to be addressed in future research such as whether the measurement of alpha lateralization could be used for innovative EEG-neurofeedback protocols.