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Study evaluates neurofeedback as a possible treatment for autism

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[Translate to English:] Bild: NeuroCare Group GmbH

(Vienna, 12-12-2017) A study at the ABC BRAIN LAB of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital, is examining for the first time in the world whether neurofeedback (of slow cortical potential feedback- a special form of neurofeedback) produces similarly good demonstrable effects for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as it does for children and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (according to the results of studies conducted with the latter group).

"Our research effort is aimed at extending the care offering for people with ASD and establishing modern treatments, since no therapy – either drug therapy or psychotherapy – has thus far proven to have any lasting effect on the key symptoms of ASD," explains lead investigator Lilian Konicar.

What is neurofeedback and how does it work?
Neurofeedback is a special form of brain training, with which people  can learn  to volitionally regulate and selectively control their own brain activity.
First of all, brain activity is  recorded by electrodes attached to the scalp. In the next step, these EEG signals are processed by a computer and displayed in real-time on the training monitor as a graphic object, e.g. a fish. The next step involves the person learning to move the object in a certain direction using only their brain, by volitionally increase or decrease their brain activity (thus making the fish swim upwards or downwards). On completing this process successfully, the trainee is given positive feedback (the symbol of a sun), like in a video game.
Athletes, pilots, top managers, surgeons and artists use neurofeedback to increase or decrease their brain activity themselves, in order to improve their performance. People with mental problems can also improve their symptoms through neurofeedback training.

Free study places still available

"Since this is a scientific study, we are able to offer free treatment places, thereby helping children and parents who have not found a place within the healthcare system,  cannot afford private treatment, or those who simply want to improve their ASD symptoms," says the MedUni Vienna psychologist and neuroscientist.

Applications are welcomed from:
•    children and adolescents aged 12 to 18 years
•    with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder,
•    who are right-handed,
•    speak German and
•    do not wear a brace on their teeth.

Free places for the upcoming study starting in January 2018 will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.


Contact:
Dr. MMag. Lilian Konicar
abcbrainlab@meduniwien.ac.at
lilian.konicar@meduniwien.ac.at
+43 1 40400 64820
+43 1 40400 37460


The study is being funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Title: "Volitional Modification of Brain Activity in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Slow Cortical Potential Neurofeedback Study" (study term: 2017 to 2020).