Neurofeedback in autism spectrum disorders


Professor Sven Bölte at Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet Centre of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND), Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital, Q2:07, S-17176 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail:


Aim  To review current studies on the effectiveness of neurofeedback as a method of treatment of the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Method  Studies were selected based on searches in PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, ERIC, and CINAHL using combinations of the following keywords: ‘Neurofeedback’ OR ‘EEG Biofeedback’ OR ‘Neurotherapy’ OR ‘Mu-Rhythm’ OR ‘SMR’ AND ‘Autism’ OR ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’ OR ‘Pervasive Developmental Disorder’.

Results  The existing evidence does not support the use of neurofeedback in the treatment of ASD. Studies with outcomes in favour of neurofeedback might be showing an improvement in comorbid attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder symptoms rather than a true improvement in core ASD symptoms.

Interpretation  Limitations of this review are those inherent in the studies available, including small sample size, short duration, variable diagnostic criteria, and insufficient control interventions, all causing a lack of generalizability.