Last week, the sixth meeting of the World Congress on ADHD descended on Vancouver, Canada. The World Congress on ADHD is a biannual conference that is sponsored by the World Federation of ADHD, attended by clinicians, scientists, and other healthcare professionals. Our CEO Jake Stauch traveled north to hear more about the latest in ADHD research and I asked him a few questions about his experience.
Why do you think it was important to be at the World Congress on ADHD for NeuroPlus?
Although NeuroPlus is not a treatment, a lot of our users struggle with ADHD. Much of our team has a background as researchers and we are passionate about science and evidence-based innovations. Assessing and addressing attention issues are a core part of our product. So when there’s a conference about the latest research in ADHD and attention issues, we want to be present both to talk about the research and be a part of the conversations on the best way to move forward.
So, when thinking about that, what is some interesting research you heard about?
New research is starting to shed light on the long term effects of medication. Recent studies suggest that stimulant medication alone is not the best intervention for ADHD and there’s some evidence showing that while being an effective short term treatment option, there are diminishing effects from medication after the first year with some growth suppression in the long term. The best effectiveness is observed when medication is coupled with counseling with a doctor every four weeks to adjust dosage. These findings have come out of Multimodal Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA) Study, the largest study on medication used to treat ADHD that follows the efficacy of various ADHD interventions over long time periods.
How about in the areas of other kinds of treatment?
Neurofeedback, one of the core components of NeuroPlus, is accumulating evidence supporting its efficacy in addressing attention issues. On the other hand, what’s interesting is the conflicting evidence on simple cognitive training—these brain games that we’re used to seeing in the market. Some studies are showing how they have a positive influence, especially in skills closely related to playing the game, but others are showing that these results may not extend to real-world situations. Researchers are very interested in these alternative interventions and it will be interesting to keep a close watch on the research in this field.
Any other observations you noticed from the presentations and conversations at the conference?
As an industry, researchers, clinicians and professionals continue to pursue an understanding of the differences among those with ADHD. There seems to be a growing consensus that what we call ADHD may be heterogeneous in origin, meaning that two different individuals with ADHD may have different deficits with different underlying causes. Because of that, the ideal treatment may be highly specific for each individual. By focusing on the label of “ADHD,” are we missing an opportunity to instead address the cognitive and behavioral deficits shared by people with a range of attention disorders? In other words, if you struggle with attention, whether or not you have ADHD, maybe a future intervention will provide relief from your most pressing challenges. We’ll have to wait and see what the research says!
Thanks for the insight from your travels, Jake! What do you think about the way we talk about ADHD? Do you think there’s a different way of talking about treatment?