This current report extends the initial findings of “Neurofeedback For Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Promising Results In A Small Sample” to a 1 year follow-up of the same participants with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Recall from the initial study that participants with ASD experienced statistically meaningful improvements in a variety of executive functioning, social, and behavioral areas following 40 neurotherapy sessions.
For clarity, “pre-test” or “post-test” scores refer to the initial report. “Follow-up” scores refer to the 1 year follow-up study cited below. Also, readers may want to review the first report for detailed information on the specific treatment gains realized after neurotherapy before reading this current article.
Kouizzer et al. (in press)* re-administered the identical Autism, cognitive, and psychosocial tests used in the original study to determine if symptom improvement persisted for 1 year following neurotherapy. No significant performance decreases were found in executive functioning scores at follow-up compared to post-test. Moreover, “auditory selective attention” continued to improve at statistically significant rates since the completion of the last study, and “inhibition of motor responses” nearly reached significance for continued improvement 1 year later. Overall, the data suggests that all initial gains in executive function were maintained 1 year later, and that some areas of executive function may develop further after neurotherapy.
Similarly, gains in general communication, communication, social interaction, and typical behavior were maintained at 1 year follow-up when compared to post-test scores. Compared to pre-test scores, participants exhibited statistically meaningful improvement in non-verbal communication skills (new finding) at follow-up, while improvements in general communication were no longer realized (an additional new finding).
In summary, 40 sessions of neurotherapy produced lasting improvements (i.e., 1 year) in a variety of executive functions, social and communication skills, and positive behaviors.
I need to also mention that all too often long-term follow-up data is neglected in neurofeedback research for various reasons, including time and financial investments; consequently, Kouijzer et al.’s efforts are certainly praise worthy. In fact, the field of neurofeedback needs many more quality studies that include long-term follow up to achieve mainstream acceptance and to be eligible for insurance coverage.
One final note that may interest neurotherapists: The researchers clearly stated that neurofeedback comprised a single channel C4 theta/SMR protocol. This effectively clarifies questions I raised about the actual protocol used in this research.
*Kouijzer, M., de Moor, J., Gerrits, B., Buitelaar, J., & van Schie, H. (In Press). Long-term effects of neurofeedback treatment in autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.