If a company’s claims seem too good to be true, there’s a good chance they are.
Neurocore LLC is a Florida-based company that says it can dramatically improve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and ADHD without drugs. On Aug. 8, the National Advertising Division, a branch of the Better Business Bureau, recommended that Neurocore remove these claims from its website.
Neurocore offers a non-invasive treatment called neuroregulation. Patients (either children or adults) come into one of the company’s centers (currently just in Michigan and Florida), and don a tight cap with sensors that pick up electrical activity in their brains. Then they’re shown images of their brains, and which regions are working—or at least which are firing neurons, which is an indirect measure of activity—as they watch videos intended to help them relax or focus more. As the patient’s’ neurological activity appears the change, so does the movie, until the patient can control their brain responses. The idea is that if patients can see parts of their brain that are over- or under-active at different times, they can learn to self-correct.
But to put it politely, the science behind Neurocore’s methods is sketchy at best. In addition to the claims on their website, which include “90% report fewer or less frequent ADHD symptoms” the company published results from a study in March of 2017 in the journal NeuroRegulation. This work involved almost 350 adults and children who went through Neurocore’s treatment from October to July of 2016. In the study, 80% of people who had symptoms of anxiety and depression showed “clinically important” improvement.
It’s unclear how this is different from regular improvement. More importantly, this study does not meet the bar for scientific research. First, there’s no control group, or comparison to other treatments for anxiety or depression. Patients could be experiencing a placebo effect, or could be doing no better or even…