Summary: A new study argues that clinical improvements reported as being the result of neurofeedback are more likely due to a placebo effect.
Source: McGill University.
Neurofeedback using electroencephalograpy boasts thousands of practitioners and appears to both improve normal brain function and alleviate a wide variety of mental disorders – from anxiety to alcoholism. But after examining the scientific literature and consulting experts in Europe and the U.S., McGill University researchers Robert Thibault and Amir Raz conclude that clinical improvements from this increasingly popular alternative therapy are due to placebo effects.
Writing in Lancet Psychiatry, they report that “sham neurofeedback” improves outcomes as much as true EEG neurofeedback. “Patients spend thousands of dollars and dedicate up to six months training their brain with neurofeedback,” Thibault says. “Yet, they are chasing elusive brain-based processes.”
Future research should focus on the psychological and social influences that account for clinical improvement from these treatments, and study how to apply these elements “in a fashion that is both scientifically judicious and ethically acceptable,” the researchers write. One hopeful note: unlike neurofeedback with EEG, they say, nascent findings from neurofeedback with functional magnetic resonance imaging “seem to pave a promising, albeit tentative, road” toward the coveted “self-regulating brain.”
About this psychology research article
Source: Cynthia Lee – McGill University Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com images are credited to McGill University. Original Research:Abstract for “When Can Neurofeedback Join the Clinical Armamentarium?” by Robert T. Thibault and Amir Raz in Lancet Psychiatry. Published online June 1 2016 doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(16)30040-2
Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]McGill University. “Are EEG Neurofeedback Benefits Due to Placebo Effects?.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 5 June 2016. <https://neurosciencenews.com/eeg-neurofeedback-placebo-4379/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]McGill University. (2016, June 5). Are EEG Neurofeedback Benefits Due to Placebo Effects?. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved June 5, 2016 from https://neurosciencenews.com/eeg-neurofeedback-placebo-4379/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Wyss Institute/Harv ard. “Are EEG Neurofeedback Benefits Due to Placebo Effects?.” https://neurosciencenews.com/eeg-neurofeedback-placebo-4379/ (accessed June 5, 2016).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
When Can Neurofeedback Join the Clinical Armamentarium?
Neurofeedback appears both to improve normal brain function1 and to treat a wide range of mental disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, depression, anxiety, insomnia, autism spectrum disorder, and alcoholism.2 However, despite a relatively long history, the medical community continues to question the clinical utility of this technique. To earn widespread recognition as evidence-based medicine, neurofeedback must meet three challenges: first, perform at least on par with standard-of-care treatments in randomised controlled trials for each disorder that neurofeedback purports to help; second, consistently outperform highly comparable placebo control conditions (eg, sham neurofeedback); and third, establish a clear mechanism for the claimed therapeutic benefits.
“When Can Neurofeedback Join the Clinical Armamentarium?” by Robert T. Thibault and Amir Raz in Lancet Psychiatry. Published online June 1 2016 doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(16)30040-2