Attention Deficit Disorder Can Be Managed by Training the Brain

2021-09-09   T|T

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects about 7% of children, with a two-thirds chance of continuing into adulthood. This neurodevelopmental disorder is characterized by difficulty concentrating, distraction, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Nowadays, ADHD is treated with drugs, but drugs may have adverse side effects. Researchers from the University of Geneva (unige) and the University Hospital of Geneva (tiger) in Switzerland have explored a new technology called "neural feedback", which allows ADHD patients to train their attention according to the immediate feedback of their brain activity level. The neuroscientist team found that this training not only has a positive impact on the patient's ability to concentrate, but also the improvement of attention is closely related to the enhanced P3 wave of brain response. As we all know, P3 wave reflects the information integration in the brain, and the higher P3 wave amplitude indicates greater attention to the detected target.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) develops in childhood and leads to many difficulties in attention and impulse. It is related to environmental factors and is characterized by the loss of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in executive function. Marie Pierre deiber pointed out that "most of these disorders continue into adulthood and lead to problems in interpersonal relations and socio professional functions, making it easier for people with such disorders to turn to alcohol or drugs."

Nowadays, ADHD is treated with drugs that increase the concentration of dopamine, so as to improve the attention of patients. Because the disorder is often accompanied by depression, anxiety and even bipolar disorder, treatment is usually combined with psychotherapy. "However, drug treatment may be accompanied by serious side effects, such as stress, sleep disorders, and an increased risk of other mental or cardiovascular diseases," explained Roland Hasler, a researcher in the Department of psychiatry at Hu. "That's why we want to study a completely non-drug and non-invasive treatment based on the principle of neural feedback."

Neurofeedback is a neurocognitive intervention based on "real-time" brain signal training. The researchers used electroencephalogram (EEG) with 64 sensors to capture the electrical activity of cortical neurons, and focused the analysis on the spontaneous alpha rhythm (the frequency is about 10 Hz).

"The purpose of neural feedback is to make patients aware of when they are no longer concentrating. Through practice, brain networks and then" learning "to reduce attention loss through neural plasticity," the researchers said. To this end, the patient's EEG is connected to a computer that displays aircraft images. When the patient is in a focused brain state (low alpha rhythm), this causes the aircraft to move forward. However, once the patient is distracted or loses attention (high alpha rhythm), it will immediately stop the movement of the aircraft. In the face of the stop of the plane, the patient realized that he was distracted, refocused and restarted the plane.

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