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Goldsmiths - University of London

EEG Neurofeedback as a Tool to Modulate Creativity in Music Performance

Leach, Joseph. 2014. EEG Neurofeedback as a Tool to Modulate Creativity in Music Performance. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

For millennia, anecdotal reports have described how creative insights have been experienced during the transition from wake to sleep (hypnagogia). In the 1970’s, it was reported that the fleeting moments in which hypnagogia and creativity interact are accompanied by characteristic neuroelectric activity, which is disclosed by a specific feature of the Electroencephalogram (EEG): the increase of spectral power in the theta range (5–8 Hz) in relation to alpha (8–11 Hz). Consequently, prior research, and experiments documented in this thesis, have attempted to modulate the relationship between hypnagogia and creativity using EEG biofeedback.

The current thesis charts the historical development of EEG neurofeedback, and evaluates the application of the two neurofeedback methods used most widely by clinicians: the alpha-theta and SMR protocols. Both therapeutic and ‘optimal performance’ contexts are considered; the latter of which includes the study of creative behaviour in musicians, which in turn constitutes the area of experimental observation studied here.

The first of three experiments found that prior findings relating neurofeedback to improvement in instrumental solo performance were replicable with the caveat that improving participants started from low baseline scores, and also further isolated the effects of neurofeedback on creativity by suggesting differences in the performance of spontaneous music creation following alpha-theta neurofeedback compared to controls. The second argued that short-term effects of neurofeedback are different from the longer-term outcomes, finding that an alpha-theta intervention impairs music performance in the short-term. The final experiment found that inhibitory activity in the frontal and parietal lobes, distinguishes piano improvisation from the rendition of a score.

Overall, this thesis makes the case that creativity, hypnagogia and music improvisation share a common neurophyisology, and that this may be open to regulation by the application of neurofeedback training that regulates alpha and theta EEG.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: creativity; improvisation; EEG; neurofeedback; biofeedback
Departments, Centres and Research Units: Psychology
Item ID: 10424
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2014 14:47
Last Modified: 05 May 2016 15:28
URI: http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/10424

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