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Neurofeedback-Enhanced Trauma Treatment for Adolescents in Residential Treatment

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Past Project Period End Date
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $98,575)

The applicant proposes an exploratory study of the potential for Neurofeedback (NFB) to change rehabilitation approaches for justice-involved youth who disproportionately experience complex trauma. The NFB intervention is guided by quantitative encephalography (qEEGs) that identifies and changes abnormal patterns of brainwave activity, which contribute to poor physical and/or mental health. They will examine relationships between trauma, toxic stress, and brain architecture, because adversity causes developmental disruptions that lead to impairments in physical and mental health, educational achievement, and economic productivity. Trauma-related neuroscientific changes in the brain correlate with high-risk behaviors and may increase stress, anger, and impulsivity, while inhibiting effective coping and problem solving. The student partnered with a residential treatment facility (Youth Villages-Inner Harbour) to access 42 diverse youth ages 11-18 with trauma histories as indicated by the Trauma Symptom Checklist (TSCC) and juvenile justice-involved histories. The research protocol entails a pre-test, multiple post-test, treatment design. Subjects are randomly assigned to treatment (NFB plus standard programming) or control (standard programming) groups. Thirty total NFB sessions will be administered; twice a week over 15 weeks. Subjects will complete a qEEG, TSCC, and Youth Self-Inventory (YSR) at baseline, sessions 15 and 30, and one month follow-up. They hypothesize changes in brainwave activity as a result of NFB will correspond to changes in internalizing (anxiety, depression), externalizing behaviors (rule breaking, aggression), and trauma symptomatology, and thus improved behavior and better school and work outcomes upon discharge. Independent sample t-tests will assess groups for pre-treatment equivalence, and discriminant function analyses (pre-test, session 15, and post-test at session 30) will assess group differences over time. Individual Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance (RANOVA) will determine mean differences between groups on behavioral outcomes. Dissemination includes presentations at social work, NFB, and child welfare conferences and research publications.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 18, 2020