Frontal alpha asymmetry has been proposed to underlie the balance between approach and withdrawal motivation associated to each individual's affective style. Neurofeedback of EEG frontal alpha asymmetry represents a promising tool to reduce negative affect, although its specific effects on left/right frontal activity and approach/withdrawal motivation are still unclear. The present study employed a neurofeedback training to increase frontal alpha asymmetry (right - left), in order to evaluate discrete changes in alpha power at left and right sites, as well as in positive and negative affect, anxiety and depression. Thirty-two right-handed females were randomly assigned to receive either the neurofeedback on frontal alpha asymmetry, or an active control training (N = 16 in each group). The asymmetry group showed an increase in alpha asymmetry driven by higher alpha at the right site (p < 0.001), as well as a coherent reduction in both negative affect and anxiety symptoms (ps < 0.05), from pre-to post-training. No training-specific modulation emerged for positive affect and depressive symptoms. These findings provide a strong rationale for the use of frontal alpha asymmetry neurofeedback for the reduction of negative affect and anxiety in clinical settings.
Keywords: Anxiety; EEG; Frontal alpha asymmetry; Negative affect; Neurofeedback; Right prefrontal cortex.
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