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. 2017 Oct;120:1-13.
doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2017.06.005. Epub 2017 Jun 24.

Specific or Nonspecific? Evaluation of Band, Baseline, and Cognitive Specificity of Sensorimotor Rhythm- And Gamma-Based Neurofeedback

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Specific or Nonspecific? Evaluation of Band, Baseline, and Cognitive Specificity of Sensorimotor Rhythm- And Gamma-Based Neurofeedback

Silvia Erika Kober et al. Int J Psychophysiol. .

Abstract

Neurofeedback (NF) is often criticized because of the lack of empirical evidence of its specificity. Our present study thus focused on the specificity of NF on three levels: band specificity, cognitive specificity, and baseline specificity. Ten healthy middle-aged individuals performed ten sessions of SMR (sensorimotor rhythm, 12-15Hz) NF training. A second group (N=10) received feedback of a narrow gamma band (40-43Hz). Effects of NF on EEG resting measurements (tonic EEG) and cognitive functions (memory, intelligence) were evaluated using a pre-post design. Both training groups were able to linearly increase the target training frequencies (either SMR or gamma), indicating the trainability of these EEG frequencies. Both NF training protocols led to nonspecific changes in other frequency bands during NF training. While SMR NF only led to concomitant changes in slower frequencies, gamma training affected nearly the whole power spectrum. SMR NF specifically improved memory functions. Gamma training showed only marginal effects on cognitive functions. SMR power assessed during resting measurements significantly increased after SMR NF training compared to a pre-assessment, indicating specific effects of SMR NF on baseline/tonic EEG. The gamma group did not show any pre-post changes in their EEG resting activity. In conclusion, SMR NF specifically affects cognitive functions (cognitive specificity) and tonic EEG (baseline specificity), while increasing SMR during NF training nonspecifically affects slower EEG frequencies as well (band non-specificity). Gamma NF was associated with nonspecific effects on the EEG power spectrum during training, which did not lead to considerable changes in cognitive functions or baseline EEG activity.

Keywords: Cognitive training; EEG; Neurofeedback; Resting state; Specificity; Tonic EEG.

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