The climate of neurofeedback: scientific rigour and the perils of ideology


Over the last six decades, an in-group with ideological and financial stakes has been conducting sub-par research to develop an ostensibly effective clinical intervention: EEG-neurofeedback. More recently, however, a string of independent studies featuring increased scientific rigour and tighter experimental controls has challenged the foundation on which EEG-neurofeedback stands. Earlier this year, Brain published one of the most robust EEG-neurofeedback experiments to date (Schabus et al., 2017), which sparked a flurry of correspondence concerning the therapeutic value of neurofeedback (Fovet et al., 2017; Schabus, 2017); notably, a parallel discussion continues in Lancet Psychiatry (Micoulaud-Franchi and Fovet, 2016; Thibault and Raz, 2016a; Schönenberg et al., 2017). However, to effectively interpret the pro and con viewpoints, one must appreciate the peculiar culture surrounding the field of EEG-neurofeedback. The present breezy piece provides little-discussed yet highly relevant contextual information often absent from formal papers and technical reports.