Monday, December 9, 2019

Reading the Research: Modulating Brainwaves and Attention

Welcome back to Reading the Research, where I trawl the Internet to find noteworthy research on autism and related subjects, then discuss it in brief with bits from my own life, research, and observations.

Today's article explores a use for neurofeedback.  There's been some rumblings of this sort of thing here and there in my research feeds: using neurofeedback and other brain-focused non-chemical interventions to augment function, rather than treat problems.  In this particular case, the study focused on attention, which I expect could be used to help people with ADHD and anxiety (both groups tend to include significant autistic populations). 

As you may know, I've been doing neurofeedback therapy for about four years at this point.  It's a specific form of neurofeedback, called LENS (Low Energy Neurofeedback System), and it's passive rather than active.  That means it's done to you, and you don't have to do anything in particular or focus on anything or try to accomplish anything on a screen.  It's improved the connections in my brain, and made it so I project facial expressions better.  In turn, this allows me to smile at cameras (couldn't do that before) and communicate better with neurotypical people.  

This study was done with an active neurofeedback, training the participants to modulate their own brain waves to some extent.  Specifically, it focused on suppressing alpha waves, which are associated with attention.  (Here's an explanation of the types of brainwaves we've identified.)  The result of this training exercise was improved attention and focus.  I would be curious to see if these effects translated outside the laboratory, and I'd bet my whole house that people in college and grad school would be extremely interested in benefiting from that effect.  Especially around finals time.  

(Pst! If you like seeing the latest autism-relevant research, visit my Twitter, which has links and brief comments on studies that were interesting, but didn't get a whole Reading the Research article about them.)

1 comment:

  1. My daughter just started middle school and she has ADHD. Focusing on writing is the most difficult for her. Her teacher recommended that she try writing in INK. It has a dark theme option that allows her to really buckle down