Before I started neurofeedback treatment for my ADD (more on that in an upcoming post), I had a qEEG—a quantitative electroencephalogram. It's a noninvasive test—no radiation or dyes or needle sticks required. It just involves some goop in your hair, some electrodes stuck to your scalp, and a shower-cap-like covering to keep it all in place. The test measures brain waves at a bunch of sites all over your head.
And the qEEG might solve a problem when it comes to diagnosing ADD. As it stands now, no one test on its own gives you a particularly good idea of whether someone has ADD. But, according to Duke University child clinical psychologist David Rabiner, recent research suggests that the qEEG might give clinicians quite a good idea whether someone has ADD. To read more about it, here's Rabiner's overview of recent research on qEEG as a diagnostic tool for ADD.
Rabiner looks at the research in a bigger context as well. Here's one important caveat that he offers:
It is important to underscore that despite the strong results found for QEEG, this tool is not a substitute for a comprehensive diagnostic exam and should not be used as a stand alone test for ADHD. One essential reason for this is that diagnostic evaluations for ADHD should go beyond simply deciding whether ADHD is present and gather other information that is critical for developing an optimal treatment plan.
My own qEEG found a quirk in my brain that's more common in people with ADD than in the general population—relatively high levels of alpha with my eyes open. It was interesting to me that the study Rabiner discusses used a different criteria—the theta/beta ratio.
Rabiner's piece is on a blog called SharpBrains. I've perused the site, and it looks to be a great place to get info on brain reseach. Check out the blog's ADD/ADHD channel.