Veit Roessner, Annet Bluschke (TUD) – Katya Rubia (King’s)

Up to 45% of ADHD children are additionally affected by Affective Dysregulation (AD) (Shaw et al., 2016). Although ADHD core symptoms are reduced effectively by stimulant medication such as Methylphenidate in up to 70% of patients, longer-term efficacy of stimulant medication has not been shown and it is associated with side effects. Importantly, comorbid AD does not respond sufficiently to stimulants. Therefore, alternative non-medication treatment options like neurofeedback are urgently required in ADHD with comorbid AD (Bluschke et al., 2018; Rubia et al., 2018). Also, newer ADHD medications like Guanfacine and Lisdexamfetamine may be more effective, but little is known on their effects on brain function in ADHD or how their effects differ from each other.

Within this project, we aim to compare the effects of various neurofeedback protocols (EEG theta↓/beta↑ frequency band training (theta-beta EEG-NF) vs. EEG slow cortical potential training (SCP EEG-NF) on AD symptoms in ADHD.  We also investigate the comparative brain function effects of new ADHD medications such as Guanfacine and Lisdexamfetamine compared to placebo in fMRI during cognitive tasks and during the resting state to test for comparative and normalizing effects on cognitive and emotional networks. Specifically, we aim to test in 2 independent datasets whether children & adolescents with ADHD and AD improve in ADHD and AD symptoms, cognition and brain activation after brain self-regulation in the form of theta-beta/beta EEG-NF, or SCP EEG-NF. We will also test whether single doses of novel ADHD drugs have differential effects on cognitive and emotional brain function in children with ADHD compared to placebo and to each other and whether they can normalize brain function abnormalities in ADHD compared to healthy controls.


  • Shaw P, Stringaris A, Nigg J, Leibenluft E. Emotion Dysregulation in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Focus (Am Psychiatr Publ). 2016;14:127–44. doi:10.1176/appi.focus.140102.
  • Bluschke A, Friedrich J, Schreiter ML, Roessner V, Beste C. A comparative study on the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying effects of methylphenidate and neurofeedback on inhibitory control in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Neuroimage Clin. 2018;20:1191–203. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2018.10.027.
  • Rubia K. Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Its Clinical Translation. Front Hum Neurosci. 2018;12:100. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00100.
  • Cubillo A, Smith,A, Barrett N, Giampietro, V, Simmons, A, Brammer, M, Rubia, K. (2014) Shared and drug-specific effects of Atomoxetine and Methylphenidate on inhibitory brain dysfunction in medication-naive ADHD boys. Cerebral Cortex, 24(1):174-85

Skills/qualities required especially for this project:

  • If possible some knowledge about EEG/fMRI analysis and about general cognitive neuroscientific research methods.