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March 13th 2002 - 11:00 GMT

Billy Won't Lose Comedic Edge

Billy ConnollyThat's the view of expert, Dr. Surinder Kaur of EEG Neurofeedback Services in St.Albans. She believes her comments in the Sunday Mail were not correctly reported and was keen to set the record straight.

The article in question was by Lynn McPherson for the Sunday Mail and appeared in the paper's 10th of March edition. It was about a possible treatment the comedian Billy Connolly may be receiving for his Attention Deficit Disorder. Billy revealed to the viewing public that he has ADD in his new BBC series, Billy Connolly's World Tour. The particular program in which he states he has ADD was aired on Monday 4th March. This further confirmed the revelation by his wife Pamela Stephenson, in her book about her husband, called Billy, released late last year as per our news article of October 21st 2001.

The treatment he has received is thought to be EEG Neurofeedback. It should be noted however, that there is no confirmation that Billy has had or intends to receive such treatment, just that he is receiving some sort of electric therapy. For all we know he may be hooking himself up to the national grid :-)

of adders.org was approached by Lynn McPherson to give an adult ADD sufferers perspective and you can view the text of the Sunday Times article by clicking here. Caroline commented, "The article was a positive one and we have received over 100 calls from people wanting more information about adult ADD, with many more visiting our website. It has done a lot to raise the profile of ADD and Billy's confirmation can only help to show that if you have the condition it doesn't have to hold you back from achieving in life."

Cognitive Scientist & Neurofeedback Practitioner, Dr. Kaur, however, was not so happy about the way her interview had been interpreted. "EEG Neurofeedback works by normalising the areas that are in deficit so that all areas of the brain can function much better", Dr. Kaur told adders.org, "it certainly won't blunt personality or humour. The treatment does not reduce spontaneity in fact the opposite is true, allowing the creative and humour areas of the brain to function better in tandem with the areas which deal with concentration, planning and organising of thought/detail. A performance might be less erratic as a consequence but no less funny or spontaneous."

Dr. Kaur went on to explain a little about what the treatment involved. The following summary does not do the extensive process justice but briefly an EEG is taken at the initial assessment where electrodes are attached to the scalp. These monitor brain activity and the results are carefully examined to plan a comprehensive treatment program. This involves the patient responding to a pc screen providing visual and auditory feedback in the form of a visual display or computer game. Goals are programmed in to the visual display by the practitioner, who constantly monitors the process. These help train or self-regulate the areas of the brain which are in deficit. Over a number of sessions these areas are gradually trained to function and communicate better with the brain as a whole. Once the functional deficits are corrected (which can be thought of as the ability level), skills such as paying attention, handling information, both task orientated and social/emotional, can then be learnt. As the neurological training proceeds Dr Kaur provides practical information about how a particular individual's brain works, which will best enable them to pick up these skills.

Dr. Kaur was also concerned about the cost of EEG Neurofeedback treatment quoted in the article as 'several thousands of pounds'. "This gives the impression that the treatment might cost several tens of thousands thus making it unaffordable, which is not true," said Dr. Kaur. Apparently an initial assessment for a child or adult lasts between 3 to 4 hours and costs 250 plus VAT with follow up sessions of 1 to 1.5 hours costing 55 plus VAT for children and 65 plus VAT for adults. This would be spread over a 3-6 month period. A mild case of ADHD may require 20 sessions with only severe cases requiring about 40 sessions. EEG Neurofeedback is also available on the NHS provided your GP and Health Authority agree the funding.

Simon Hensby for adders.org

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