Don't Throw Neurofeedback

Please Don’t Throw Neurofeedback Under the Bus

February 3, 2017
This morning the ISNR sent two letters to the New York Times editors. What follows is the letter sent to Ms. Liz Spayd, Public Editor, The New York Times:

Dear Ms. Spayd,

We were really disappointed to read the NYT piece entitled, “Betsy DeVos Invests in a Therapy Under Scrutiny” by Sheri Fink, Steve Eder, and Matthew Goldstein, available here:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/30/us/politics/betsy-devos-neurocore-brain-centers.html

Just this weekend, we, the members of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR.org) distributed a letter through social media to protest the unfair discrediting of neurofeedback that is going on in efforts to argue against DeVos’ confirmation. We are sad to see this piece of reporting go even further than those previous to it in throwing neurofeedback under the bus.

While we have no comment regarding either the suitability of DeVos for the position, nor the business and marketing practices of Neurocore, we do wish to strongly implore you to refrain from misrepresenting our important and valuable field.

Tens of thousands of Americans have already benefited greatly from this powerful, effective, established, and proven intervention that is relatively non-invasive, and creates lasting results in stark contrast to the outcomes derived from pharmaceutical treatment for a wide variety of conditions.

Your selection of “experts” consulted and your description of the sessions themselves were slanted to trivialize and misrepresent our work. Bessel van der Kolk, MD., is an eminent psychiatrist who promotes the use of neurofeedback in recovery from trauma. Ruth A. Lanius, M.D., Ph.D. is Harris-Woodman Chair in Psyche and Soma, Professor of Psychiatry, and researches neurofeedback at the University of Western Ontario. These are but two examples of highly distinguished persons you could have consulted.

Where were the interviews of objective proponents or researchers of neurofeedback? Psychiatry is a large field. As one example, please take note of the following recent article from the Psychiatric Times:

Simkin, D., & Lubar, J. (2016). Neurofeedback: Significance for Psychiatry. Psychiatric Times. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/cme/neurofeedback-significance-psychiatry

Contrary to specific statements in your piece, here are links to a sample of just five rigorous scientific studies that provide solid evidence of the effectiveness and power of neurofeedback for ADHD :

Arns, M., de Ridder, S., Strehl, U., Breteler, M., & Coenen, A. (2009). Efficacy of neurofeedback treatment in ADHD: The effects on inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity: A meta-analysis. Clinical EEG and Neuroscience, 40(3), 180-189. doi: 10.1177/155005940904000311 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19715181

Coben, R., Wright, E. K., Decker, S. L., & Morgan, T. (2015). The impact of coherence neurofeedback on reading delays in learning disabled children: A Randomized controlled study. NeuroRegulation, 2(4), 168-178. doi: 10.15540/nr.2.4.168. http://www.neuroregulation.org/article/view/15893

Micoulaud-Franchi, J-A., Geoffroy, P. A., Fond, G., Lopez, R., Bioulac, S., Philip, P. (2014). EEG neurofeedback treatments in children with ADHD: An update meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8(906), 1-7. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00906 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25431555

Steiner, N. J., Frenette, E. C., Rene K. M., Brennan, R. T., & Perrin, E. C. (2014). In-school neurofeedback training for ADHD: Sustained improvements from a randomized control trial. Pediatrics, 133(3), 483-492. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-2059. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24534402

Wigton, N. L., & Krigbaum, G. (2015). Attention, executive function, behavior, and electrocortical function, significantly improved with 19-channel z-score neurofeedback in a clinical setting: A pilot study. Journal of Attention Disorders, [e-pub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1177/1087054715577135, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25823743

The real fallout from such coverage is the lack of options provided to millions of Americans who suffer from attentional issues, brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, mood disorders, migraines, epilepsy, autism and other hard-to treat conditions and aren’t even yet aware that research-based, effective neuroregulation techniques are available to reduce their suffering.

Neurofeedback or EEG Biofeedback has a history going back 50 years. The mountain of scientific research to back it is still growing rapidly. Just type neurofeedback into PubMed. Our field is filled with highly intelligent discerning and credentialed scientists and professionals, and in our minds there isn’t any doubt of the significant value of neurofeedback and other neuroregulation therapies.

Furthermore, as healthcare goes in our country, it is inevitable, in any field, for business people to recognize the potential of a powerful technique and seek out ways to minimize costs and maximize profit in the delivery of the service. And it is important for the public to be accurately informed and discriminating when selecting their care. But equally important is the responsibility of our news sources to provide fair and balanced reporting so that we don’t limit choice and block access to legitimate interventions.

Respectfully Yours,

ISNR Board of Directors, (ISNR.org)
Joy Lunt, RN, President
Leslie Sherlin, PhD, President-Elect
Nancy Wigton, PhD, Treasurer
Sarah Wyckoff, PhD, Secretary
Robert Longo, MRC, Sergeant-at-Arms
Silvia Costales, MFT, BCN, Member-at-Large
Amber Fasula, PsyD, Member-at-Large
Tanju Surmeli, MD, International Member-at-Large

and

Susan Alvarez
Executive Administrator, ISNR
International Society for
Neurofeedback and Research
isnr.org / office@isnr.org

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