Neurofeedback for AD/HD: A Ratio Feedback Case Study and Tutorial

  • Thomas Rossiter


Introduction. The case study of a 13-year-old AD/HD male treated with neurofeedback is the subject matter for a tutorial on Ratio feedback. Method. Neurofeedback was conducted at C3 (increase 15 to 18 Hz, decrease 2 to 10 Hz) and C4 (increase 12 to 15 Hz, decrease 2 to 7 Hz). Protocols provided visual and auditory feedback based on the ratio of slow wave activity to be suppressed divided by fast wave activity to be enhanced (Ratio feedback). Results. The patient demonstrated marked improvement in processing speed and variability on the Test of variables of Attention-Auditory, a 19-point increase in IQ on the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, significant behavioral improvement based on parental (Behavior Assessment System for Children) and patient (Brown ADD Scale) reports, and a 7.5 grade equivalent increase in reading scores (Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement-Brief Form). At the 17-month follow-up parent questionnaires indicated that the patient’s behavioral gains had been maintained or were slightly improved. EEG data showed significant declines in the C4/SMR Ratio (10*2 to 7 Hz/12 to 15 Hz) and 2 to 7 Hz amplitude, a tendency toward an increase in 12 to 15 Hz amplitude, a significant increase in 8 to 11 Hz amplitude, and a decline in 22 to 30 Hz amplitude. Beta activity (15 to 18 Hz) was unchanged. An unexpected finding was that C3/Beta (10*2 to 10 Hz/15 to 18 Hz) and C4/SMR protocols had similar effects on the EEG even though they targeted different bands to enhance and suppress. It appears that suppression of slow wave activity (2 to 7 Hz) may be the active component in both Ratio protocols and that fast wave enhancement either plays a minor (12 to 15 Hz) or no role (15 to 18 Hz). Discussion. The findings cast doubt on the assumption that the C3/Beta and C4/SMR protocols have unique effects on EEG activity. Nevertheless, they may have differential effects on brain functions related to the training sites employed. It would be useful to analyze EEG changes in successfully treated individual AD/HD patients as a first step toward understanding the effects of various treatment protocols. What the protocols are intended to do, and the actual effects on the EEG may be different. If there are active components common to the various AD/HD treatment protocols reported in the literature, this is one way of beginning to recognize them. Brain maps collected before, during, and at the conclusion of treatment would enhance our understanding of treatment effects of various neurofeedback protocols, lead to more focused and productive research, and ultimately facilitate the development of more efficient treatment paradigms.