What is NeuroPlus? An overview

Are you curious about NeuroPlus, but would like to know more?

You’ve come to the right place.

NeuroPlus is a game-based attention training program clinically proven to help individuals, especially those with attention difficulties, exercise their brain in order to develop and improve their focus and self-control.

One of our neurofeedback training games, Conduit
One of our neurofeedback training games, Conduit

How does it work?

NeuroPlus incorporates neurofeedback, motion-based biofeedback, and cognitive attention training to help improve focus, calmness, and self-control.
These methods are embedded in a mobile training games (iOS and Android compatible) that are controlled by a brain-sensing EEG headband.

Neurofeedback
With NeuroPlus, the same neurofeedback strategies typically seen in clinical settings are now available for home use, and at a fraction of the price. NeuroPlus users wear a dry, wireless, easy-to-use EEG headband that measures their brain waves, and play a training game that challenges them to amplify patterns of brain activity associated with focus. The better they’re able to show the right kind of brain activity, the better they perform in the game. Depending on the game, users’ focus will control the speed of a flying dragon, the size of an energy shield, or the brightness of lights in a dark tunnel. What could be more fun than playing a video game with your brain?

Motion biofeedback

Accelerometers and sensors in the headband also monitor the user’s movements and muscle tension, so that the game can give them feedback on their level of calmness. While playing the training game, users must maintain complete control of their bodies and remain absolutely still and relaxed in order to avoid penalties. If they move too much or are too tense, their dragon might falter, or their hover-bike might crash into a wall! Practicing this kind of relaxation can help users maintain calmness and self-control in everyday scenarios.

Cognitive attention training
To further practice and develop self-control, NeuroPlus users are challenged with “go/no-go tasks” requiring them to quickly and accurately respond to stimuli and ignore distractions. Different colored dragons might attack them, for example, and they’ll be instructed to only respond to a given color, ignoring others. Or, they’ll have to scan a cave for treasure and only respond to certain signals. In this way, users practice the act of self-control while also developing working memory and reaction-time skills.

Axon, another NeuroPlus training game
Axon, another NeuroPlus training game

Does it work?
Yes. A registered, randomized, controlled, blinded clinical study showed NeuroPlus to dramatically improve attention while reducing hyperactivity, impulsivity, and learning problems in children. This was after only 10 weeks of training, 3 times per week. Those results will be published in full in the coming months.
In addition to this study, there is overwhelming evidence supporting neurofeedback as an effective tool for improving attention skills in individuals. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics classifies neurofeedback as a Level 1 – Best Support Treatment for ADHD, the same rating given to medications and cognitive behavioral therapy.Dozens of clinical studies have shown the protocols used in NeuroPlus to be effective for improving attention and reducing hyperactivity/impulsivity. Here are two recent from the scientific literature, with more research available on our website.

Duric et al. (2012): Neurofeedback for the treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD: a randomized and controlled clinical trial using parental reports. Neurofeedback improves attention and reduces hyperactivity as well as methylphenidate (Ritalin®). http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/12/107

Steiner et al. (2014): Neurofeedback and Cognitive Attention Training for Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Schools. Neurofeedback produces sustained improvements in attention after only 3 months of training. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/02/11/peds.2013-2059.abstract

How do I sign up?

Please visit http://www.neuro.plus to sign up and learn more. If you have additional questions, you can email us at info@neuro.plus, or give us a call at (866) 730-6619.

Happy training!

Now Available: Neuro+ Attention Training Software

After 4 years of development, we’re happy to announce that Neuro+ is now available to the public.
Axon Neuro+Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.59.49 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.59.29 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.58.53 PM
What is Neuro+?
Neuro+ is a game-based attention training program designed to
help individuals, especially those with ADHD, exercise their brain in order to develop and improve their attention skills.How does it work?Neuro+ incorporates neurofeedback, motion-biofeedback,
and go/no-go cognitive training to help improve focus,
body self-control, and impulse-control. Below is a brief description of each training tool:Neurofeedback: Users wear a dry, wireless, easy-to-use EEG headset and play a training game that challenges them to focus in order to advance through a series of fun and engaging exercises.
Motion-biofeedback: While playing the training game, users must maintain complete control of their bodies and remain absolutely still in order to avoid costly point penalties.
Go/no-go training: To practice impulse control, users are challenged with “go/no-go tasks” requiring them to quickly and accurately respond to stimuli and ignore distractions.
Most users see results after only 6 weeks of training 30 minutes per day, 2-3 times per week.
Is it effective for ADHD?
Neuro+ provides detailed analytics of users performance and improvement over time.
Neuro+ provides detailed analytics of users performance and improvement over time.

There is overwhelming evidence supporting neurofeedback as an effective tool for improving attention skills in individuals suffering from ADHD. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics classifies neurofeedback as a Level 1 – Best Support Treatment for ADHD, the same rating given to medications and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Dozens of clinical studies have shown the protocols used in Neuro+ to be effective for improving focus and reducing hyperactivity/impulsivity. Below are some recent findings from the scientific literature, with more research available on our website www.neuropl.us

Duric et al. (2012): Neurofeedback for the treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD: a randomized and controlled clinical trial using parental reports. Neurofeedback improves attention and reduces hyperactivity as well as methylphenidate (Ritalin®). http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/12/107

Steiner et al. (2014): Neurofeedback and Cognitive Attention Training for Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Schools. Neurofeedback produces sustained improvements in attention after only 3 months of training. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/02/11/peds.2013-2059.abstract

How do I sign up?
Please visit http://www.neuropl.us to sign up and learn more. You can see Neuro+ in action in the video below:

A sneak peek at the future of ADHD therapy

We at NeuroPlus have been working 3+ years to develop a new approach to addressing attention issues like ADHD. I’m happy to say we’re almost there! This September, we’ll be releasing NeuroPlus to the public. It will be the first-of-its-kind portable, affordable, game-based attention training system for use at home, at work, in school, or on the go.

In the meantime, I want to share some details about the product and give you all an opportunity to leave your feedback in the comments below. Please don’t hesitate to tell us what you think, or send us an email at info@neuro.plus to learn more.

3 Symptoms. 3 Exercises.

ADHD is characterized by varying degrees of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. NEURO+ consists of a patent-pending combination of 3 training technologies rigorously designed to address each of these symptoms.

  • Neurofeedback for Inattention

NeuroPlus incorporates EEG neurofeedback to help users train their focus and improve attention. We use the same protocols proven to reduce symptoms of ADHD in numerous clinical trials.

  • Motion-biofeedback for Hyperactivity

NeuroPlus makes use of an embedded 9-axis inertial sensor to track user movement and reward users for sitting extremely still, in a process called motion-biofeedback. Early trials have show this technology to dramatically reduce hyperactivity`in children after only a few hours of play.

  • Go/No-go Inhibition Training for Impulsivity 

Controlling our impulses and ignoring distractions is something we all struggle with, especially those with ADHD. NeuroPlus integrates Go/No-go inhibition training tasks to help users practice impulse control and suppress responses to distracting stimuli.

In addition, all of these training exercises are (1) precisely adapted to the user through artificial intelligence algorithms (2) accessible with no expertise or clinical monitoring necessary, and (3) fun to use!

We’ll continue to share more information on NeuroPlus in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates on our blog and on our website at http://neuro.plus.

 

NEURO+ AXON
Screenshot from NeuroPlus

No, Energy Drinks Don’t Cause ADHD

You may have seen some headlines recently making bold claims about the link between energy drinks and ADHD. As is often the case with scientific reporting, the actual research is more nuanced than the headlines suggest.

Let’s take a moment to address these claims and discuss some limitations in the underlying research on which they’re based.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read the original article here. It’s a very good cross-sectional study examining sugary drink consumption and behavior, controlling for socioeconomics, gender, race, and household makeup.

It’s important to note that the attention/hyperactivity data collected consisted of a simple self-report questionnaire (from the paper):

1) You are restless, you cannot stay still for long;

2) You are constantly fidgeting or squirming;

3) You are easily distracted and you find it difficult to concentrate;

4) You finish the work you are doing; your attention is good; and

5) You think before you do things.

For each item, respondents select an answer: not true, somewhat true, or certainly true. These were scored as 0, 1, and 2, respectively for the first 3 items and reverse coded for the last 2 items, so that higher scores reflect worsening symptoms. Scores between 0 and 5 were considered in the normal range, 6 was considered borderline, and scores between 7 and 10 were considered abnormal. Borderline and abnormal categories were combined into an at-risk category.

In addition to the questionnaire, participants were asked to list the amount and type of sugary drinks (flavored milk, sports drinks, soda, energy drinks, etc.) they consumed the previous day. The study concluded that children consuming energy drinks were 66% more likely to exhibit “at-risk” behaviors (score of 6 or higher on the above test).

While certainly interesting, does this really mean that energy drinks are causing ADHD symptoms? Not really.

First, understand that the only thing that separates energy drinks from other sugary beverages is the exceptionally high caffeine content, which may have a disproportionate effect on children due to their smaller size. And according to the FDA, side effects of caffeine include:

  • Making you jittery and shaky
  • Making it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get a good night’s sleep
  • Making your heart beat faster
  • Causing an uneven heart rhythm
  • Raising your blood pressure
  • Causing headaches, nervousness, and/or dizziness

Now let’s take another look at the questionnaire given to children:

1) You are restless, you cannot stay still for long;

2) You are constantly fidgeting or squirming;

3) You are easily distracted and you find it difficult to concentrate;

4) You finish the work you are doing; your attention is good; and

5) You think before you do things.

Answering “True” (for the first 3) or “Not True” (for the last 2) to just 3 of these would put you in the “At-risk” category in the study.

So no, energy drinks don’t cause ADHD. Rather,  kids drinking energy drinks simply exhibit natural and expected reactions to the high caffeine content.

By no means does that mean energy drinks are necessarily safe or healthy for children to consume. Many of these products contain extremely high sugar levels and potentially unsafe levels of caffeine for younger children.

But it’s important for us to not get carried away and blame energy drinks for ADHD behavior. ADHD is a complex set of struggles relating to inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity and (unfortunately) can’t be explained away with an easy scapegoat like Red Bull.

Instead of playing the blame game, we should focus our energy on interventions to help children and adults address their attention difficulties, regardless of their cause.

Study shows negative effects of ADHD medications

A recent study by researchers at Princeton, Cornell, and the University of Toronto sheds light on the negative effects of increased stimulant use in ADHD children.

Using data from Quebec, where a change in insurance policy brought about a large increase in the use of stimulant medications for ADHD, researchers found no evidence of improvement in emotional or academic outcomes in the medium or long term:

“We find that the introduction of the prescription drug insur- ance program increased the use of stimulants in Quebec relative to the rest of Canada. However, we find no evidence that the performance of children with ADHD improved. In fact, the increase in medication use among children with ADHD is associated with increases in the probability of grade repetition, lower math scores, and a deterioration in relationships with parents. When we turn to an examination of long-term outcomes, we find that increases in medication use are associated with increases in the probability that a child has ever suffered from depression and decreases in the probability of post-secondary education among girls.”

How can it be that medications that so many find efficacious have no lasting benefit? There are a number of possible explanations, but a likely answer is that these stimulants are indeed effective – at improving behavior. Parents and teachers tend to report drastic behavioral changes when children begin taking ADHD medications. But it may be that these improvements are masking their ADHD symptoms rather than demonstrating actual progress:

“. . .medication is a substitute for other types of cognitive and behavioral interventions that might be necessary to help the child learn. By making children less disruptive, ADHD medica- tion could decrease the attention that they receive in the average classroom and reduce the probability that the child receives other needed services.”

Other possibilities that may explain the measured negative impact of stimulant use include negative psychological/social effects of making a child aware of their ADHD diagnosis, as well as improper dosing and monitoring of the medication.

What do you think of this research? What’s your experience with long-term stimulant use? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

The globalization of ADHD: 5 trends driving the surge in ADHD

It seems like everywhere you look, there’s someone lamenting over the  tremendous increase in ADHD cases in recent years. Just in the past few weeks, a variety of pundits and experts have put forward theories to explain the surge, from air pollution during pregnancy to over-stimulation of young minds.

But a recent study by Peter Conrad and Meredith Bergey points to an array of compounding factors that have caused an explosion of ADHD diagnoses both in the U.S. and abroad. They call it  the “globalization of ADHD,” and there’s a great deal of evidence showing that the growth of ADHD cases is indeed a global phenomenon. Leah Burrows of BrandeisNow writes:

According to the study, in the U.K., diagnosis of the disorder in school-age children grew from less than one percent in the 1990s to about five percent today. In Germany, prescription ADHD drugs rose from 10 million daily doses in 1998 to 53 million in 2008.

While acknowledging the limitations in understanding a complex disorder like ADHD, Conrad and Bergey have identified 5 key trends as the primary drivers of this growth.:

1) Pharmaceutical companies are well-resourced and determined lobbyists, and have coaxed some countries to allow stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall to be marketed more directly to consumers.

2) Treating patients with counseling and non-medical therapies is becoming less popular than treating them with medicine. (Many insurers, including Medicaid, will pay for drugs but not for psychotherapy, for example.) This incentivizes the labeling of children with a specific disorder.

3) The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the bible of mental disorders, is gaining more traction in Europe and South America. The DSM has slightly broader standards for diagnosing ADHD than the system used by many other countries, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), hence more folks are falling within the standard.

4) ADHD advocacy groups are raising awareness of the condition.

5) Because everybody is occasionally fidgety and distracted and nearly everybody despairs of not getting enough done, people turn to the internet for answers and find checklists put up by drug companies, with overly general questions like: “Are you disorganized at work and home?” and “Do you start projects and then abandon them?” and encourage people to ask their doctors about medication.

All of these trends seem like reasonable explanations of the growth in ADHD diagnoses. But the question remains, should we do something about it? And if so, what?

There’s an ongoing debate over whether or not this growth represents better identification of previously overlooked ADHD cases or mis-diagnosis of normal individuals (Conrad and Bergey seem to support the latter). But this debate does little to help the actual people suffering from attention deficits.

The fact is, no matter how “over-diagnosed” ADHD may be, these cases represent  real people who are reporting struggles with inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity. We should be focusing on how to help these individuals instead of arguing about whether or not these deficits are severe enough to warrant a medical diagnosis.

The real debate should be about how we treat individuals with varying degrees of attention deficits. We can all agree that the status quo – prescribing stimulant medications, and only stimulant medications, in nearly 100% of cases – is unacceptable.

We at  NEURO+ support individualized therapies that involve the integration of one or more tools (pharmacological included) for the treatment and management of attention disorders. It’s our mission to build products that offer a safe, effective, and affordable solution to help childreB and adults overcome attention difficulties.

 

Children not receiving adequate ADHD care

A new study reports that many pediatricians provide substandard care for children with ADHD,  with doctors  failing to follow even basic guidelines for diagnosis and treatment.

Dennis Thompson of HealthDay writes:

“Nearly one-third of pediatricians who diagnose children with ADHD do not consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a necessary step in determining if the kids meet the criteria for the brain disorder, researchers found.

A large number of pediatricians also do not gather parent and teacher ratings of a child’s day-to-day behavior, information that is crucial in diagnosing ADHD and tracking whether prescribed therapies are working, the study said.

And finally, doctors appear to lean heavily on drugs for treating ADHD. Nine out of 10 kids with ADHD are on some sort of medication. But only one out of 10 kids is receiving behavioral therapy or psychotherapy as well, according to the study.”

Lead author of the study Jeffery Epstein, director of the Center for ADHD, Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, is also concerned about the time pressure involved in these diagnoses: “Typical office visits are 10 to 15 minutes in length.” he says. “To try and assess ADHD in a 15-minute period is a very difficult thing to do. “

Thus, it can take less than 15 minutes to get a life-changing ADHD diagnosis, and in most cases these diagnoses are made without parent or teacher evaluations.

Epstein advises concerned parents to ask their pediatrician about the diagnostic process and get referrals to pediatricians providing satisfactory care.

New study to treat ADHD with brain-training

The NIH is funding a study of neurofeedback-based brain training for ADHD.  Researchers at The Ohio State University and University of North Carolina  Asheville will investigate the effects of neurofeedback on ADHD symptoms in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial with 140 participants – the first “gold standard” study of its kind:

“This is the first large study to test for a specific benefit of neurofeedback (NF) , a method of training the brain to function more efficiently. It’s also the first large study that will follow the patients for up to two years to examine enduring effect of NF treatment.”

Previous research has shown neurofeedback to significantly reduce symptoms of ADHD, and we’re excited to see more controlled studies in the works.

If you’d like to learn more about how NEURO+ is combining these same neurofeedback protocols with biofeedback and cognitive training exercises for ADHD,  please visit us at http://www.neuropl.us or shoot us an email at info@neurospire.com.

 

 

 

Long-term benefits of ADHD meds questioned

More than 6% of all children in the U.S.  take medications for ADHD, with significant increases in just the past few years.

And while there’s a great deal of controversy over the potential side effects and over-use of these drugs, their efficacy is less frequently called into question.  For most children, ADHD medications seem to induce  drastic and immediate improvements in behavior and attitude.

However, a recent article in Nature from Katherine Sharp examined the  long-term effects of ADHD meds on academic performance and found no evidence to support lasting benefits for children taking them:

As the drugs have become more widespread, so has their cultural cachet. Stimulant medications have gained a reputation for turbo-charging the intellect. Even news stories critical of their use refer to them as “good-grade pills”, “cognitive enhancers” and “mental steroids”.

For most people with ADHD, these medications — typically formulations of methylphenidate or amphetamine — quickly calm them down and increase their ability to concentrate. Although these behavioural changes make the drugs useful, a growing body of evidence suggests that the benefits mainly stop there. Studies indicate that the improvements seen with medication do not translate into better academic achievement or even social adjustment in the long term: people who were medicated as children show no improvements in antisocial behaviour, substance abuse or arrest rates later in life, for example. And one recent study suggested that the medications could even harm some children1.

After decades of study, it has become clear that the drugs are not as transformative as their marketers would have parents believe. “I don’t know of any evidence that’s consistent that shows that there’s any long-term benefit of taking the medication,” says James Swanson, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine.

It’s important to note  that these medications can, and often do, provide a short-term boost that can be incredibly helpful for a child’s development. Sharp writes,

Many researchers think that a stint on medication, when it is needed, can create an upward spiral of self-esteem that may make a crucial difference to a child’s life — but there are no hard data to support this. “It may be that treatment doesn’t translate into better grades” in the long term, Volkow says. “But what I’d like to see is, are those kids overall better integrated?”

Some experts think that the focus on academic achievement is misguided — that the point of the drugs has never been to improve children’s grades, or increase their chances of admission to the best universities. “Medications are given for their short-term effects,” says Swanson. “Don’t expect medication to get rid of every problem a child has. But if the problem right now is not passing the second grade, or not having any friends in the third grade, we can do something about that now.”

Thus, it may be the case that the meds are working exactly  as intended, and it is we who are placing unreasonable expectations on these drugs.  We may need to look to other, non-pharmacological strategies for improving attention skills long-term.