BRAINFEEDBACK EEG TRAINING FOR LEARNING DISABILITIES:
According to The National Institute of Mental Health (1993), nearly 4 million school- aged children exhibit learning disabilities. Studies indicate that children with learning disabilities also have increased rates of attention deficits, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Holobrow and Berry conducted a study which investigated the relationship between hyperactivity and learning disabilities.
In this study, teachers at six state primary schools and one private school rated their students on learning difficulties. The results from this study revealed that 26.5% of children rated as hyperactive also displayed learning difficulties; while, only 5.2% of non hyperactive children had learning problems (Holobrow & Berry, 1986). From these results, it appears that there is a connection between learning disorders and hyperactivity.
Scientists originally thought that all learning disorders stemmed from a single neurological problem. But, research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicates that this theory is not accurate. Rather, many factors may contribute to learning disorders. For example, researchers at the NIMH are studying if environmental toxins can lead to the development of learning disorders. Since there are many potential causes for the development of learning disabilities, mental health professionals suggest that the family not concentrate on tracing the reason for the disability, but rather that they focus on finding an effective treatment. Unlike ADHD which is frequently treated with a stimulant medication, a medical remedy for learning problems currently does not exist. However, recent evidence indicates that BRAINFEEDBACK / EEG training can be helpful in specific learning challenges such as visual retention, articulation, and dyslexia (Othmer, 1999).
Tansey and Bruner (1983), Joel and Judith Lubar (1984) conducted the first studies of EEG Biofeedback as a treatment for both attention and learning problems. However, these early studies were not conclusive as to whether biofeedback training was effective. For example, in Lubar’s study, five of the six children in the study were also receiving academic support in addition to EEG training. And, in Tansey and Bruner’s study, they employed conventional biofeedback and BFB training, so improvements could not unequivocally be attributed to BFB. Then, Tansey (1985) published a study which removed the ambiguity of these previous studies. In his study of four learning disabled children, he observed that IQ scores improved after EEG training.
In 1990, Tansey conducted another study with 24 learning disabled children which further supported his theory that EEG BFB was effective. He noted that after EEG training there was an average improvement of 19 points on the Wechsler full scale IQ test. The results from these studies suggest that BFB has an impact on specific learning disabilities, while others appear to remain unaltered. It is clear that more research is necessary to differentiate between which learning problems improve with BRAINFEEDBACK EEG training and which are resistant to it.