Professor Keith with Students, one student wearing a brain cap
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Mind Over Matter:
The Healing Effects of Brain Power

Millions take prescription medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but nearly 40 percent do not find relief. The remainder may experience adverse side effects that overshadow treatment benefits. Julian Keith, a neuroscientist in the UNCW Department of Psychology, is conducting a study that shows neurofeedback is a viable, alternative therapy for adults and children with ADHD.

Results from his innovative research, funded by a multi-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, indicate that most participants begin to notice improvement in their attention after 12 or so neurofeedback sessions. They become more cognizant of where their attention is directed while also learning to self-correct if they notice a lapse in concentration.

Keith's neurofeedback research has shown such promise that the Cape Fear Memorial Foundation funded an on-campus clinic aimed at providing children from economically disadvantaged families with free ADHD treatment services, valued at more than $3,000 per child. He collaborates with colleagues Rich Ogle, professor and psychology department chair, and Kate Nooner, associate professor, to operate the clinic in UNCW's state-of-the-art Teaching Laboratory Building.

Keith and his colleagues also have a manuscript under review about the use of neurofeedback to enhance attention in recovering, illicit substance abusers with ADHD.

"Not only does their attention improve dramatically after neurofeedback," he said, "but their retention in the drug treatment program improves, too."

Keith expanded the scope of his research in 2013, exploring new ways to use neurofeedback as therapy.

"I am consulting on a project proposed by the UNC-Chapel Hill Medical School that uses neurofeedback to treat veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have PTSD and chronic pain," he said.

He is also working with a former Tibetan Buddhist monk who was deputy secretary to the Dalai Lama to study the combination of traditional meditation techniques and neurofeedback.