UCSF Attention Training Studies

Is your child between 7-16 years old with or without ADHD?

Researchers at UCSF are studying new attention training approaches.

ADHD study: Recruiting right-handed children with ADHD (7-14 yo). Study involves computer exercises and brain activity recordings and requires up to 17 visits to UCSF over 2-4 months then a 3-month follow up, each visit lasting about 2 hours.
Additional eligibility for this study will be confirmed using parent and teacher-based surveys and an in-lab EEG diagnostic visit (2-hour session)

Non-ADHD study (7-14 yo): Recruiting right-handed children without ADHD (7-14 yo). Study involves computer exercises and brain activity recordings and requires 4 visits to UCSF over 1 month each visit lasting about 2 hours.

Non-ADHD study (12-16 yo): Recruiting right-handed children without ADHD (12-16 yo). Study involves at home iPad-based video game play for 30 days and requires up to 9 visits to UCSF (3 prior to and after video game play and three at a 6-month follow up), each visit lasting about 2 hours.

At end of these studies, you will be compensated at a rate of $15/hour for your total time commitment, up to $500.

Directions and additional information

ADHD Study Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions About the Study

Is my child eligible?

Your child may be eligible if :

  • Right handed
  • He/she is between the ages of 7-14 years
  • He/she has a clinical diagnosis or symptoms of ADHD

In addition, we will ask you and your child’s teacher to fill out multiple surveys, including a Pearson’s survey based on the Behavioral Assessment Schedule for Children (BASC) scale.
We will determine the eligibility of your child after all surveys have been completed.

Once these surveys are completed, we will determine your child’s eligibility for a diagnostic session, which will be a 2-hour EEG session. Once your child completes this session, we will determine if your child is a fit for training. If so, we can move onto pre-training and training. If not, we will end your child’s participation.

What is the general outline of the study?

We have a screening phase to make sure your child is eligible: it consists of two parent surveys, a teacher survey, and an MRI survey. Depending on the results of these surveys, we can move onto the eligibility testing session:

  1. Diagnostic EEG (2 hours)

Once this is done, we will need to see if your child is compatible with the intervention.

If so, we can move onto the pre-training phase, which has 3 more sessions:

  1. MRI, IQ and iPad session (2-3 hours)
  2. & 3. Two Pre-Cog sessions (2 hours each)

Followed by this, we will move to in-lab training: Personalized neuro-feedback Training. This will be composed of 10 in-lab training sessions

  • 2x week for 5 weeks (1.5-2 hours each)

The in-lab training will be followed by a post-training phase, which has 3 sessions:

  1. iPad game (45 minutes)
  2. & 3. Two Post-Cog sessions (2 hours each)

Three months after completing these sessions, we will ask your child to come back for a final 3 sessions:

  1. iPad game (45 minutes)
  2. & 3. Two Post-Cog sessions (2 hours each)

Your child will be compensated $15/hour ($20 for the MRI) up to $500 for the in-lab sessions.

My child is diagnosed with another condition in addition to ADHD. Is my child still eligible?

If ADHD is the primary diagnosis, then yes. If ADHD is a secondary diagnosis to another condition, then no.

What are your clinic hours? Are weekends an option or only during the week?

The clinic hours are very flexible. We run 6 days a week, including weekends. We do not run on Mondays. During the week we typically can do 1pm-10pm and weekends are 9am-2pm. We will do our best to work around your schedule.

When can we begin the study?

As soon as the surveys and questionnaires are completed, we will see if your child is eligible for the study. If so, we can start scheduling as soon as possible.

Will my child’s identity and information be protected?

Yes! We assign your child a unique number as an identifier. One survey in which your child’s name is associated with it will be through a secure website. Emails containing personal and sensitive information, including DOB, diagnosis, medications and dosage, will be through a secure email.

General Questions About Medications, Therapies, and More

We are exploring medicating our child for ADHD. When could we start this process in regards to participating in the study? Would starting medication affect the data?

We do want medications to be stable for at least 4 weeks before they start their training and no changes in medication while in training.

Do my child’s medications need to be stable during the period of the experiment?

We ask that your child’s medications are stable for at least 4 weeks before they start their training and that there are no changes in medications while in the training period. We do ask to know what medications your child is on, the start date, and dosage.

Can my child participate in any therapies during this time?

If they are currently undergoing therapy it should have started 8 weeks prior to training and ask for no changes during the experiment. General therapies are okay but we ask that your child does not participate in other attention trainings while enrolled in the study.

My child plays video games and brain games. Is this a problem?

If your child regularly play video games, we ask that they are not brain training games or attention games. We also ask that you let us know what video games and how frequently they play.

Training Questions

Will you share the pre and post assessment with us?

Yes we can! It is important to remember that the results of your child is in a research setting and should not be used to make clinical diagnosis or decisions.

Can you provide a sample of the assessment that would be provided to us? We would be interested in the pre and post insights and what potentially we can glean from this.

At baseline, we can provide detailed info on how the child compares relative to the general population on Hyperactivity & Attention Problems. If eligible and enrolled in the study, we can provide indices on performance on attention, working memory, distractibility and other cognitive tests. We also have standard measures of academic performance, so we can say how reading and math may be related to the underlying cognitive performance. At the end of the study period, we can give you detailed feedback on how the child improved through the study, both brain wise and on cognitive tests, it may take a us a week or two to get all the data processed.

Is my child receiving "neuro-feedback" or beta/theta manipulations during the session via the EEG hook up? We have been researching neurofeedback via a commercial biofeedback clinic. Should we wait to start that until after the study?

Our real-time neurofeedback training is novel and completely integrated with cognitive training/ attention training. We train on the inter-cortical neural networks that we have found to be most reliably predictive of better attention performance (currently prefrontal-sensory alpha networks). This is unlike the conventional beta/theta manipulations that do not integrate any simultaneous cognitive training procedure. We hypothesize that our approach will be more efficacious than conventional (beta/theta) neurofeedback but of course that remains to be proven until the end of the study.
If you decide to participate, yes we would definitely want you to wait to start any other biofeedback sessions until the end of our study, as otherwise that would confound our results.

Are the personalized games all geared to improving attention, WM, etc. Are any of the games you are testing make attention worse? Or are they all researched technologies which you currently believe lead to improvement? Are these games designed by UCSF or a private company?

Yes all our personalized games and neurotech approaches are geared towards improvement, and none to make it worse. Our tech is all designed in-house in our lab at UCSF.

MRI Questions

Do the MRI's include contrast injections?

No they do not.

Can my child be given medication to sleep during the MRI?

No. We cannot give any medications to your child. However, we will let them log into your family Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon accounts to watch a movie or show throughout the scan.

My child already had an MRI performed. Does my child need to re-do the MRI?

It depends on how long ago the scan occurred. We do prefer to do our own scans to make sure it is recent, however if it occurred in the last year, we may be able to use the scans you already have.

Does the MRI machine allow for movies to be watched? We are trying to understand how problematic this could be for our child.

Yes! We can let your child watch a movie for the first and last 12 minutes of the scan. After the first 12 minutes, there will be a about a 10-12 minute resting period, in which your child will close his/her eyes (without falling asleep), then there will be a 6 minute game in which your child presses a button if he/she sees two faces or two shapes in a row that are the same. Finally, the scan will end with another 12 minute portion, in which your child can continue to watch a video.
We can play a video you bring in or have you sign into your own Netflix account and pick a show. Another option is to listen to music.

Can we get a copy of the MRI photos?

We can send you a few images of the photos and we are more than happy to transfer the files to a flash drive you bring in (the drive must have at least 1 GB of free space).

Can I get a report of my MRI?

The MRI scans in this research protocol do not comprise a comprehensive clinical MRI examination of the brain. Also our research scientists conducting this study are not trained to identify brain abnormalities in MRI images like radiologists, so they might not notice a problem even if one may exist. Our scan is purely for research purposes. It is non-diagnostic and we are unable to provide an MRI report for you.

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