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Neurofeedback Recuperates Cognitive Functions in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

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Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and behaviors or interests. Besides behavioral, psychopharmacological and biomedical interventions there is increasing evidence of non-invasive treatments like neurofeedback (NFB) that can improve brain activity. In this study, we have investigated whether NFB can improve cognitive functions in children with ASD. Thirty-five children with ASD (7–17 years) were selected by purposive sampling. The subjects underwent 30 sessions of NFB training for 20 min over 10 weeks’ period. Psychometric tests i.e. Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), IQ scoring and Reward sensitivity tests were administered at baseline. Pre and post NFB intervention assessment of executive functions, working memory and processing speed were done by NIH Toolbox Cognition Batteries. Friedman test revealed that children showed a statistically significant improvement in the NIH Tool Box cognitive assessments, including the Flankers Inhibitory Control and Attention Test (Pre-test = 3.63, Post-test = 5.22; p = 0.00), the Dimensional Change Card Sorting Test (Pre-test = 2.88, Post-test = 3.26; p = 0.00), the Pattern Comparison Processing Speed Test (Pre-test = 6.00, Post-test = 11:00; p = 0.00) and the List Sorting Working Memory Test (Pre-test = 4.00, Post-test = 6:00; p = 0.00), and displayed a trend of improvement at 2-month follow-up (Flankers Inhibitory Control and Attention Test (Post-test = 5.11 ± 2.79, Follow-Up = 5.31 ± 2.67; p = 0.21), the Dimensional Change Card Sorting Test (Post-test = 3.32 ± 2.37, Follow-Up = 3.67 ± 2.35; p = 0.054), the Pattern Comparison Processing Speed Test (Post-test = 13.69 ± 9.53, Follow-Up = 14.42 ± 10.23 p = 0.079) and the List Sorting Working Memory Test (Post-test = 6.17 ± 4.41, Follow-Up = 5.94 ± 4.03; p = 0.334). Our findings suggest NFB intervention for 10 weeks produce improvement in executive functions (Inhibitory Control and Attention and Cognitive Flexibility), Processing Speed and Working Memory in ASD Children.

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SS made substantial contributions to the conception and design of the work, acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data. She drafted the work and revised it critically for important intellectual content. She approved the version to be published. She agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. SHH made substantial contributions to the conception and design of the work as well as interpretation of data. He revised the content critically for important intellectual content. He approved the version to be published. He agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

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Correspondence to Syed Hamid Habib.

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Saleem, S., Habib, S.H. Neurofeedback Recuperates Cognitive Functions in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). J Autism Dev Disord (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-023-06037-z

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