Will this new brain test make it easier to diagnose attention deficit accurately?
by Wayne Kalyn
The Food and Drug Administration has announced its approval of the first brain wave test to help diagnose ADHD. Called the Neuropsychiatric EED-Based Assessment Aid, the device traces different types of electrical impulses — theta and beta waves — given off by nerve cells in the brain and records how many times those impulses occur each second.
Certain combinations of those brain waves, says the FDA, tend to occur more often in children with ADHD.
The test takes 15 to 20 minutes and uses an encephalogram, or EEG, with sensors attached to a child’s head and hooked by wires to a computer to measure brain waves.
The device was used by clinicians in combination with traditional methods of diagnosis, like listing the criteria in the DSM-V, behavioral questionnaires, and IQ testing. An outside group of researchers reviewed the data and decided whether the child had the disorder. The results showed that the device helped doctors make a more accurate diagnosis than using traditional methods alone, says the FDA.
Some skeptics, such as William E. Pelham, the director of the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University, believe that the traditional methods of diagnosis are accurate enough and that the NEBA device would only supplement those tests and increase the cost of diagnosis.