EEG-Guided Neurofeedback for Children with Histories of Abuse and Neglect: Neurodevelopmental Rationale and Pilot Study

Lark Huang-Storms, Eugenia Bodenhamer-Davis, Richard Davis, & Janice Dunn (2006). "QEEG-Guided Neurofeedback for Children with Histories of Abuse and Neglect: Neurodevelopmental Rationale and Pilot Study." Journal of Neurofeedback, 10(4).

Background: Poor self-regulation is central to the behavioral difficulties experienced by children with traumatic caretaker attachment histories. EEG biofeedback teaches children to self-regulate brain rhythmicity, which may in turn affect global improvements in the areas of attention, aggression, impulse control, and trust formation. Research literature reports successful use of neurofeedback for children with ADHD, autism, asthma, stroke, and migraine.  This study extends current research by investigating the effectiveness of neurofeedback in reducing behavioral problems commonly observed in abused/neglected children.

Methods: Treatment records of twenty adopted children with histories of removal from their biological home by Child Protective Services were obtained from a private neurofeedback practice. All of the children were assessed prior to treatment using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA) and again after 30 sessions of individualized, qEEG-guided neurofeedback.

Results: T-test analysis of pre- and post-scores on the CBCL showed significant changes in the areas of externalizing problems, internalizing problems, social problems, aggressive behavior, thought problems, delinquent behavior, anxiety/depression, and attention problems (p < .05). TOVA omission error, commission error, and variability scores also improved significantly following neurofeedback training (p < .05). Some pre-treatment qEEG patterns common to this group of children were identified.

Conclusions: The CBCL and TOVA score improvements observed in this study indicate that neurofeedback is effective in reducing behavioral, emotional, social, and cognitive problems in children with histories of neglect and/or abuse.