Application of alpha/theta neurofeedback and heart rate variability training to young contemporary dancers: state anxiety and creativity

Int J Psychophysiol. 2014 Jul;93(1):105-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2013.05.004. Epub 2013 May 15.


As one in a series on the impact of EEG-neurofeedback in the performing arts, we set out to replicate a previous dance study in which alpha/theta (A/T) neurofeedback and heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback enhanced performance in competitive ballroom dancers compared with controls. First year contemporary dance conservatoire students were randomised to the same two psychophysiological interventions or a choreology instruction comparison group or a no-training control group. While there was demonstrable neurofeedback learning, there was no impact of the three interventions on dance performance as assessed by four experts. However, HRV training reduced anxiety and the reduction correlated with improved technique and artistry in performance; the anxiety scale items focussed on autonomic functions, especially cardiovascular activity. In line with the putative impact of hypnogogic training on creativity A/T training increased cognitive creativity with the test of unusual uses, but not insight problems. Methodological and theoretical implications are considered.

Keywords: Creativity; Dance; EEG; Heart rate variability; Mood; Neurofeedback.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Creativity*
  • Dancing / education
  • Dancing / psychology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurofeedback / methods*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology*
  • Young Adult