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Benefits of Neurofeedback with Autism Spectrum and Neurodevelopmental Disorders


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sometimes called a pervasive developmental disorder, has a broad range of severity of symptoms and levels of impairment. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some form of autism affects 2 – 6 of every 1,000 children, with the most recent statistics being 1 in 88. Research shows that ASD is a result of trauma to the brain caused or triggered by genetic and environmental influences. In studies comparing the general population with individuals diagnosed with ASD, it was found that persons diagnosed with ASD use the front areas of their brains much less than the general public. We and others (Thompson and Thompson) have observed in clients with ASD a slowing in the processing of data in the back upper area of the brain called the parietal lobe.

The parietal lobe is known as the “command center of the brain” or the “CPU” of the brain. Neurotherapy can be like upgrading the CPU and software on your laptop. The brain may now process data more efficiently, open applications faster, run at optimal speed, and overall system performance increases. When these areas of the brain process data more efficiently, we have seen a decrease in the behaviors associated with autism.

Current research has also shown that QEEG “brain mapping” can identify early markers for neurological disorders, especially those of developmental origin (Bosl et al., 2011). Brain changes associated with ASD can be identified by QEEG as early as 18 months of age. Neurofeedback is NOT a cure-all for autism, nor does it diagnose autism.

Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a type of pervasive developmental disorder. Symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome may include problems with social skills, eccentric or repetitive behaviors, unusual preoccupations or rituals, communication difficulties, limited range of interests, coordination problems, and may be skilled or talented. Individuals with AS may not lack the social/behavior skills, they may lack efficient connectivity of the areas of the brain that are responsible for social interactions. The brain's neurons are arranged in areas of similar function and structure, much like neighborhoods in your city.

There are at least nine different areas or neighborhoods that must have efficient long-distance communication in order to maintain healthy social functions. Individuals with AS may be inefficient with long-distance communication between the neighborhoods (hypo-conductivity) and have a tendency to have prodigious short distant communication within the local neighborhood (hyper-conductivity). In AS, there seems to be a trade-off between having better processing of detailed information at the local level and the brain’s ability to handle social functions.

At the Brain & Life Renewal Center we encourage the brain to develop more efficient long distant connections by normalizing the connectivity of the brain. 

An eccentric stone mason who designed a cathedral would be admired for his work. A brilliant scientist who preferred the company of mice to humans might have been considered eccentric but not necessarily labeled socially dysfunctional. In many ways, today’s “always connected” society has put more social demands on people, and a lack of social ability may be seen as more of a handicap than in the past.”- Temple Grandin’s comments on Asperger’s syndrome.

Since autistic spectrum disorder is a very complicated disorder, we highly suggest that all clients have comprehensive medical, occupational, and speech testing before coming for Neurofeedback. 

Resources on the Benefits of Neurofeedback with Autism and Asperger's

  • Baruth, J., Casanova, M., El-Baz, A., Horrell, T., Mathai, G., Sears, L., Sokhadze, E. (2010). Low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation modulates evoked gamma frequency oscillations in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Neurotherapy, 14(3), 179–194.

  • Coben, R., Mohammad-Rezazadeh, I., Cannon, R. (2014). Using quantitative and analytic EEG methods in the understanding of connectivity in autism spectrum disorders: a theory of mixed over- and under-connectivity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8:45. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00045.

  • Coben, R., & Myers, T. E. (2010). The relative efficacy of connectivity guided and symptom based EEG biofeedback for autistic disorders. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 35(1), 13–23.

  • Coben, R., & Pudolsky, I. (2007). Assessment-guided neurofeedback for autistic spectrum disorder. Journal of Neurotherapy, 11(1), 5–23.

  • Coben, R. (2007). Connectivity-guided neurofeedback for autistic spectrum disorder. Biofeedback, 35(4), 131–135.

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