The temporal dynamics of electroencephalographic responses to alpha/theta neurofeedback training in healthy subjects

Egner, Tobias and Gruzelier, John. 2004. The temporal dynamics of electroencephalographic responses to alpha/theta neurofeedback training in healthy subjects. Journal of Neurotherapy, 8(1), pp. 43-57. ISSN 1087-4208 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Background. It has been shown recently that accurate feedback of alpha and theta electroencephalographic (EEG) activity, as employed in the commonly used #8220alpha/theta protocol,#8221 induced linear increments in within-session theta-over-alpha ratios in comparison to non-contingent feedback in a healthy sample. These data verify that alpha/theta feedback can facilitate within-session operant control over the EEG signature targeted by the training protocol. However, it is neither known whether any between-session theta/alpha ratio changes do reliably occur, nor what kind of temporal dynamics between the alpha and theta band amplitudes characterise within-session and/or between-session theta/alpha ratio changes.

Method. In order to address these issues, analyses of an extensive data set (n = 48) of alpha/theta training in healthy volunteers were carried out. Specifically, alpha, theta, and theta/alpha ratio EEG dynamics were contrasted between groups of subjects that engaged in 10 sessions of training at PZ (n = 28), five sessions of training at PZ (n = 10), and 10 sessions at FZ (n = 10).

Results. For alpha/theta training at PZ, significant within-session increments in theta/alpha ratios were mediated by slightly less pronounced decrements in theta than in alpha activity during the sessions. The traditional alpha/theta protocol at PZ was nevertheless associated with significant theta activity increments across the training process. For training at FZ, no significant within- or between-session changes in theta, alpha, or theta/alpha ratio values were found, but a progressively higher rate of within-session theta/alpha ratio modulation was evident across sessions. Furthermore, in contrast to the PZ groups, any changes in theta/alpha ratio at FZ were mediated by increases in theta relative to alpha amplitudes.

Conclusions. These data elucidate the dynamics underlying the within-session theta/alpha ratio increments associated with posterior alpha/theta training, and document an increase in theta activity across 10 sessions of training, offering further evidence for a neurophysiological impact of this training protocol. In addition, the contrasting EEG characteristics associated with frontal versus posterior alpha/theta training underline the heterogeneous nature of these frequency components across varying scalp sites.

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Alpha/theta neurofeedback alpha theta theta/alpha ratios neurofeedback learning

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March 2004Published

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Date Deposited:

16 Mar 2011 11:25

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 15:27

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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