The effect of training distinct neurofeedback protocols on aspects of cognitive performance.
The use of neurofeedback as an operant conditioning paradigm has disclosed that participants are able to gain some control over particular aspects of their electroencephalogram (EEG). Based on the association between theta activity (4-7 Hz) and working memory performance, and sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) activity (12-15 Hz) and attentional processing, we investigated the possibility that training healthy individuals to enhance either of these frequencies would specifically influence a particular aspect of cognitive performance, relative to a non-neurofeedback control-group. The results revealed that after eight sessions of neurofeedback the SMR-group were able to selectively enhance their SMR activity, as indexed by increased SMR/theta and SMR/beta ratios. In contrast, those trained to selectively enhance theta activity failed to exhibit any changes in their EEG. Furthermore, the SMR-group exhibited a significant and clear improvement in cued recall performance, using a semantic working memory task, and to a lesser extent showed improved accuracy of focused attentional processing using a 2-sequence continuous performance task. This suggests that normal healthy individuals can learn to increase a specific component of their EEG activity, and that such enhanced activity may facilitate semantic processing in a working memory task and to a lesser extent focused attention. We discuss possible mechanisms that could mediate such effects and indicate a number of directions for future research.
Vernon, D; Egner, T; Cooper, N; Compton, T; Neilands, C; Sheri, A; Gruzelier, J
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