Using Recent BCI Literature to Deepen our Understanding of Clinical Neurofeedback: A Short Review

Neuroscience. 2018 May 15:378:225-233. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2018.03.013. Epub 2018 Mar 20.


In their recent paper, Alkoby et al. (2017) provide the readership with an extensive and very insightful review of the factors influencing NeuroFeedback (NF) performance. These factors are drawn from both the NF literature and the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) literature. Our short review aims to complement Alkoby et al.'s review by reporting recent additions to the BCI literature. The object of this paper is to highlight this literature and discuss its potential relevance and usefulness to better understand the processes underlying NF and further improve the design of clinical trials assessing NF efficacy. Indeed, we are convinced that while NF and BCI are fundamentally different in many ways, both the BCI and NF communities could reach compelling achievements by building upon one another. By reviewing the recent BCI literature, we identified three types of factors that influence BCI performance: task-specific, cognitive/motivational and technology-acceptance-related factors. Since BCIs and NF share a common goal (i.e., learning to modulate specific neurophysiological patterns), similar cognitive and neurophysiological processes are likely to be involved during the training process. Thus, the literature on BCI training may help (1) to deepen our understanding of neurofeedback training processes and (2) to understand the variables that influence the clinical efficacy of NF. This may help to properly assess and/or control the influence of these variables during randomized controlled trials.

Keywords: adaptation; brain–computer interfaces; cognitive profile; neurofeedback; personality; training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain-Computer Interfaces*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Neurofeedback*