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15.12.2021 | main topic Open Access

Effects of an intensive slow cortical potentials neurofeedback training in female and male adolescents with autism spectrum disorder

Are there sex differences?

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift
Mag. Dr. Sonja G. Werneck-Rohrer, Theresa M. Lindorfer, Carolin Waleew, Julia Philipp, Karin Prillinger, Lilian Konicar
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This study aims to compare the effects of neurofeedback training on male and female adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Furthermore, it examines sex differences regarding improvements in co-occurring psychopathological symptoms, cognitive flexibility and emotion recognition abilities. The study might provide first hints whether there is an influence of sex on treatment outcomes.


Six female and six male adolescents with ASD were matched according to age, IQ and symptom severity. All participants received 24 sessions of electroencephalography-based neurofeedback training. Before and after the intervention, psychological data for measuring co-occurring psychopathological symptoms as well as behavioral data for measuring cognitive flexibility and emotion recognition abilities were recorded.


Caregivers rated statistically significant higher psychopathological problems in female than in male adolescents with ASD at baseline. Apart from that, no statistically significant sex-related differences were revealed in this sample; however, male adolescents tended to report greater improvements of externalizing, internalizing and total symptoms, whereas females experienced smaller improvements of externalizing and total problems, but no improvements of internalizing problems. Regarding caregivers’ assessments, more improvement of total problems was reported for females. For males, only improvements of internalizing and total problems were described.


This study reveals preliminary results that sex-related differences might play a role when evaluating treatment outcomes after neurofeedback training regarding comorbid psychopathological symptoms. Adolescents’ self-report and parental assessments, especially concerning psychopathological symptoms, should be combined and considered in future studies to help prevent sex bias in adolescents with ASD.

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