Seven autistic children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) received a neurofeedback treatment that aimed to improve their level of executive control. Neurofeedback successfully reduced children’s heightened theta/beta ration by inhibiting theta activation and enhancing beta activation over sessions. Following treatment children’s executive capacities were found to have improved greatly relative to pre-treatment assessment on a range of executive function tasks. Additional improvements were found in children’s social, communicative and typical behavior, relative to a waiting list control group. These findings suggest a basic executive function impairment in ASD that can be alleviated through specific neurofeedback treatment. Possible neural mechanisms that may underlie neurofeedback mediated improvement in executive functioning in autistic children are discussed.
In conclusion, application of a typical ADHD neurofeedback protocol to a group of ASD children diagnosed with ASD was found to be highly affective. Neurofeedback treatment resulted in clear improvements in children’s executive functioning as reflected in a wide range of executive function tasks. These findings provide further evidence for a basic executive function impairment in ASD and suggest a relationship between enhanced theta / beta ratio’s in these children and hypoactivation of the ACC as a possible neural origin of this impairment.