What is Neurofeedback Therapy for ADHD?

Neurofeedback therapy for ADHD is a non-invasive, non-drug treatment protocol designed to help patients address the underlying causes of their ADHD symptoms and develop a more normal and optimal pattern of brain functioning.

And when we say non-invasive, we mean it: during neurofeedback treatment, drugs are not administered and the brain is not stimulated.

Instead, neurofeedback is akin to using a thermometer to take a patient’s temperature, as it only records the patient’s brain activity.

The brainwave activity is then relayed back to the patient in a visual form they can easily decipher and understand, and only requires patients to wear a sensor on their head.  

When used in conjunction with qEEG brain mapping, Neurotherapy for ADHD helps patients learn how to self-regulate their brain activity for better concentration and focus, by allowing them to see their brainwave patterns in real-time.

Best of all, because neurofeedback produces results which due to a self-generated, learned response, the results are typically long-lasting—with many of our patients reporting life-changing improvement of their ADHD-related symptoms.

For over 40 years, the Drake Institute of Behavioral Medicine has pioneered the use of neurofeedback therapy for treating ADHD, Autism, Stress, Depression, PTSD, and more.

For immediate assistance, please fill out our contact form or call us at 310-208-2020 for a free consultation. Our medical professionals are standing by to help you and your loved ones achieve ADHD symptom relief. 

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and it is characterized by an inability to focus, pay attention, sit still, control impulses, or self-regulate.

ADHD can be caused by multiple factors, including heredity, head injuries, maternal prenatal substance abuse, and premature childbirth.

No matter the disorder, we believe the best method for treating patients is by providing them with the tools to address the underlying dysregulation that results in their difficulties and to assist in developing a healthier pattern of brain functioning. This is why the brain is at the center of all our non-drug treatment protocols.

Side-Effects of ADHD Drugs

In many cases, ADHD is treated with stimulant medications. These drugs can provide temporary symptom relief but may cause several serious side-effects, including:

  • Nervousness
  • Change in personality
  • Loss of appetite
  • Suppressing growth rate
  • Weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Psychotic reactions
  • Insomnia
  • increase in blood pressure and palpitations
  • Risk of substance abuse

Unfortunately, individuals taking these medications can also develop a tolerance and may require a higher dosage to maintain the same level of symptom reduction.

As the dosage increases, so does the probability of the patient experiencing the negative side effects listed above. However, with the help of neurofeedback techniques and brain mapping technologies, many patients can achieve symptom reduction without medication.

Remember, ADHD medications don’t treat the root cause of the patient’s problems, which is brain dysregulation. Because of this, patients who discontinue their ADHD medications are likely to see their ADHD symptoms return.  

How Does Neurofeedback Training for ADHD Work?

The human brain weighs about 2 lbs.; however, it still uses about half of the body’s blood glucose to create electrochemical energy (electricity) to carry out all its functions. These functions include:  

  • Attention & Concentration
  • Self-monitoring
  • Learning
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Behavioral control
  • Problem Solving
  • Executive Functioning
  • Spatial Perception
  • Language processing
  • Sleep & Wake Cycles

When delivering neurofeedback therapy, this electrochemical energy is recorded in the form of brainwaves via non-invasive sensors placed on the patient’s head.

These brainwaves occur at different frequencies, with Delta and Theta waves being slower, and Beta waves being much faster.

Delta and Theta waves occur when the brain is under-aroused or functioning at a reduced capacity, like when we’re sleeping or daydreaming.

On the other hand, Beta waves increase when networks of neurons in the brain are fully engaged to process information. These waves need to be dominant to control attention, behavior, emotion, and learning.

By monitoring and recording a patient’s brainwave activity, we can determine if it’s producing too many of the slow brainwaves or too few of the fast brainwaves.

In either of the above cases, the patient’s brain will be working at a reduced capacity and the patient will experience ADD symptoms. Therefore, the goal of our neurofeedback treatment protocols is to help patients develop the proper balance of brainwaves and improve their brain regulation to enhance focus, concentration, and self-regulation of their behavior.

With the help of neurofeedback equipment, patients can learn to strengthen and improve their brainwave patterns to the more dominant and faster Beta waves required for focus, organization, follow-through, and basic learning functions.

To identify the dysregulated areas of the brain, the Drake Institute uses qEEG brain mapping to record the patient’s current brainwave activity.  

Brain Mapping

At the core of every treatment protocol utilized at the Drake Institute is qEEG brain mapping.

Through qEEG brain mapping, we can determine whether dysregulation comes as a result of under or over-activated brain regions, or abnormal functional connectivity. 

The findings are processed through the FDA-registered normative database to identify deviations from what is considered “normal” activity.

After this comparison is made, a custom treatment protocol can be developed for each patient to provide ADHD symptom relief.

How is Neurofeedback used to Treat ADHD?

There are many ways in which Neurofeedback can be used to treat ADHD, but ultimately the goal is to train the brain to increase or decrease certain brainwaves. In order to accomplish this, an individual must receive feedback when the brain is functioning in a more optimal pattern. One example of this time of feedback comes in the form of a video game. In order to “play” the game, their brain has to produce more or less of the determined brainwaves. For example, one protocol involves converting a patient’s brainwave patterns into a video game of a car driving down a street.

When the patient’s brain shifts into a healthier functioning pattern, the car stays in the right lane and an auditory tone is triggered and repeated every half-second the patient sustains the pattern.

With practice, this exercise can improve and stabilize brainwave patterns and teach patients to self-reinforce optimal brain functioning. Indeed, neurofeedback treatment for ADHD is a lot like physical therapy for your brain, but the therapeutic effect is self-generated by the patients themselves which promotes self-regulation.  

With continued neurofeedback treatment for ADHD, patients will learn how to improve their focus on non-preferred tasks and improve brain regulation.

It should be noted that by addressing the cause of the patient’s ADHD symptoms, subsequent improvement typically does not require continued maintenance as ADHD medications do.

We follow every patient for 12 months after discharge. Finally, because our treatment protocols are non-invasive and always drug-free and guided by brain mapping, there are rarely neurofeedback side-effects to worry about! The rare side-effects are typically mild and temporary like a short-lived headache.

Visit the Drake Institute in West Los Angeles Today

Our West Los Angeles office is located at 11111 W. Olympic Blvd (Suite 210), and we're just minutes from Santa Monica Blvd., the 405, and the 10.

If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of ADHD, Autism, Stress, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, or PTSD, please call the Drake Institute to schedule a no-cost screening consultation

Contact Us Today

To get the help you or a loved one needs, call now to schedule your no-cost screening consultation.

dr david velkoff headshot

“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

More About What Makes Drake Institute Unique