Design of a visual and behavioral concept for the therapy method “Neurofeedback”.


Dr. Axel Kowalski


UX Design
UI Design
Creative Problem-solving
Human-centered Design
Service Design
Interaction Design


Visual Perception
Behavioral Science
Reinforcement Theory


Corporate Design
Concept Creation


ADHD. It is a much debated mental illness – some claim that it is not even existent. However, evidence shows that many people suffer from the symptoms of this illness.

As a designer, I wondered:

︎︎︎ How might we ease the life of people with ADHD in our society?




Identifying touchpoints

I found that people with ADHD don’t seem to fit into parts of the social system, such as the school system. In order to ‘make them fit’ medication is prescribed, but these have negative side effects.

︎︎︎ How might we facilitate inclusion of people with ADHD without medication prescription?


I can’t change the world, but I can help my child adjust to the world.”

– mother of child with ADHD

“I’m not prescribing medication against ADHD.”

– primary care doctor


Alternative Treatment

Through further research I came across a novel therapy method called Neurofeedback. It is a type of biofeedback that uses real-time displays of brain activity to teach self-regulation of brain function. This method is used to treat ADHD. During the sessions, patients are watching films while their brain activity is displayed. The displayed data show how good or bad the patients are concentrating and is used to give direct feedback through the watched films. For example, the film stops while concentration is low and plays when it is on a high level. This helps the patients to regulate their concentration consciously.

This therapy method offers effective treatment for people with ADHD without negative side effects and therefore an alternative to medication.


Due to the novelty of this treatment method, not enough material, such as films, was designed specifically for this method yet. 

︎︎︎ How might we design treatment material to enhance and support the effectiveness of the novel therapy method?

To answer this question, I ran test trials regarding visual perception and attention among ADHD patients. 


Game to test and train attention and decision making ability


Study to test
attention and focus


Difficulty in concentration arises differently for either high or low stimulus intensity.  

Low motivation among children.

of progress and success into everyday life is hard to achieve.


The animations will have different levels of stimulus intensity that can be adjusted individually for each patient.


Gamification of the treatment supplemented by a reward system and avatars for personal identification enhance motivation among children.

Implementation of visual stimuli from everyday environments
, especially those that are challenging such as school, in therapy sessions.

The activity, such as the eye movement, resembles natural movement in everyday life.
The conditioned visual material from the therapy sessions is taken into everyday environments in form of bonus cards.






Storyboards + Prototypes for Animations


The concept is based on the reinforcement theory of motivation


Avatar Prototypes



Conceptualization of Reward System



The final deliverable is a kit with movies, stickers and bonus cards that is based on a visual and behavioral concept for animations used during therapy and also bridges the training from the lab into the real world.  


The kit is based on psychological concepts, such as:
reinforcement theory
gestalt psychology
visual perception



The videos entail a game, which requires the patients to follow a character with their eyes to its counter parts along a path. The characters were chosen by the patient before starting the therapy sessions and will remain their personal characters throughout the therapy.

The path is supposed to resemble the naturally occuring movement of the eyes while, for example, reading a book or scanning a room.


In some kinds of ADHD concentration is especially difficult when many stimuli are present, and in some kinds the opposite is the case.

Therefore, many different kinds of movies can be layed on top of each other, to adjust the amount of stimuli present while the patients follow the path with the eyes.

The intensity of the distracting stimuli is adjustable.


Each patient can choose from a variety of figurative and abstract characters. These have counterparts, such as a monkey + banana. The challenge of the game is to bring the avatar and its counterpart together. This supports feelings of accomplishment.

After each successfully completed session, the patients receive their personal character as a sticker on a rewards card. This is intended to enhance motivation and positive feedback. 

To create a smooth transfer of the trained concentration into the daily life of the patients, backgrounds that the patients are confrontet with outside of therapy in situations of lack of concentration are implemented in the game.

The character as well as the eye movement now are conditioned visuals connected to the ability of successful concentration.

For example, the chosen character is then placed as stickers on the top and the bottom of a page. Seeing the character and reading, which entails the eye movement during therapy, will remind them of the times of successful concentration.