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Novel treatment offers hope to ADHD children

A collaborative study has found that stimulating the brain using electrodes could ease symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, and help to transform their lives, say scientists.

Transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) works by sending a mild electrical current to the brain through two electrodes on the scalp.

The Independent reports that the study, led by researchers from the University of Surrey and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and published in the Translational Psychiatry journal, explored the use of tRNS alongside cognitive training as a treatment for ADHD.

Roi Cohen Kadosh, head of the School of Psychology and professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Surrey, said: “I believe the scientific community is duty-bound to investigate and develop evermore effective and longer-lasting treatments for ADHD.”

The clinical trial included 23 newly diagnosed and un-medicated children aged six to 12, recruited from groups referred to the ADHD clinic by doctors, teachers, psychologists or parents.

Researchers at the computerised neurotherapy lab at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem administered tRNS during cognitive training each weekday over a two-week period.

The parents of 55% of the group reported “significant clinical improvement” in ADHD symptoms to researchers, compared with 17% in a control group given placebo brain simulation.

Kadosh said the findings demonstrate the treatment “has the potential to transform the lives of children and their families”.

Researchers are now preparing to start a larger clinical trial using tRNS and cognitive training.

“If successful, this approach will be approved as a medical device for ADHD by the US Food and Drug Administration,” Kadosh said.

Dr Mor Nahum, co-lead of the study and head of the computerised neurotherapy lab at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said this was an important first step in offering new therapeutic options for ADHD.

“Future studies, with larger and more varied samples, should help establish this as a viable therapy and help us understand the underlying mechanisms of the disorder.”

Study details

Transcranial random noise stimulation combined with cognitive training for treating ADHD: a randomised, sham-controlled clinical trial

Dakwar-Kawar Ornella, Mairon Noam, Hochman Shachar, Berger Itai, Cohen Kadosh Roi &
Nahum Mor.

Published in Translational Psychiatry on 2 August 2023

Abstract

Non-invasive brain stimulation has been suggested as a potential treatment for improving symptomology and cognitive deficits in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorder. Here, we examined whether a novel form of stimulation, high-frequency transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS), applied with cognitive training (CT), may impact symptoms and neural oscillations in children with ADHD. We conducted a randomised, double-blind, sham-controlled trial in 23 un-medicated children with ADHD, who received either tRNS over the right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG) and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (lDLPFC) or sham stimulation for two weeks, combined with CT. tRNS + CT yielded significant clinical improvements (reduced parent-reported ADHD rating-scale scores) following treatment, compared to the control intervention. These improvements did not change significantly at a three-week follow-up. Moreover, resting state (RS)-EEG periodic beta bandwidth of the extracted peaks was reduced in the experimental compared to control group immediately after treatment, with further reduction at follow-up. A lower aperiodic exponent, which reflects a higher cortical excitation/inhibition (E/I) balance and has been related to cognitive improvement, was seen in the experimental compared to control group. This replicates previous tRNS findings in adults without ADHD but was significant only when using a directional hypothesis. The experimental group further exhibited longer sleep onset latencies and more wake-up times following treatment compared to the control group. No significant group differences were seen in executive functions, nor in reported adverse events. We conclude that tRNS + CT has a lasting clinical effect on ADHD symptoms and on beta activity. These results provide a preliminary direction towards a novel intervention in paediatric ADHD.

 

Translational Psychiatry article – Transcranial random noise stimulation combined with cognitive training for treating ADHD (Open access)

 

The Independent article – Brain stimulation treatment could ‘transform the lives’ of children with ADHD (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Abnormal brain connectivity found in ADHD children – US study

 

SA Society of Psychiatrists: Pandemic’s online learning and working sees increase in ADHD symptoms

 

Critical shortage of ADHD medication in US and demand rises

 

Benefits of long-term use of ADHD medications questioned

 

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