Neuromodulating Attention and Mind-Wandering Processes with a Single Session Real Time EEG

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2018 Jun;43(2):143-151. doi: 10.1007/s10484-018-9394-4.

Abstract

Our minds are continuously alternating between external attention (EA) and mind wandering (MW). An appropriate balance between EA and MW is important for promoting efficient perceptual processing, executive functioning, decision-making, auto-biographical memory, and creativity. There is evidence that EA processes are associated with increased activity in high-frequency EEG bands (e.g., SMR), contrasting with the dominance of low-frequency bands during MW (e.g., Theta). The aim of the present study was to test the effects of two distinct single session real-time EEG (rtEEG) protocols (SMR up-training/Theta down-training-SMR⇑Theta⇓; Theta up-training/SMR down-training-Theta⇑SMR⇓) on EA and MW processes. Thirty healthy volunteers were randomly assigned to one of two rtEEG training protocols (SMR⇑Theta⇓; Theta⇑SMR⇓). Before and after the rtEEG training, participants completed the attention network task (ANT) along with several MW measures. Both training protocols were effective in increasing SMR (SMR⇑Theta⇓) and theta (Theta⇑SMR⇓) amplitudes but not in decreasing the amplitude of down-trained bands. There were no significant effects of the rtEEG training in either EA or MW measures. However, there was a significant positive correlation between post-training SMR increases and the use of deliberate MW (rather than spontaneous) strategies. Additionally, for the Theta⇑SMR⇓ protocol, increase in post-training Theta amplitude was significantly associated with a decreased efficiency in the orientation network.

Keywords: Attention; Mind wandering; Neurofeedback; Real-time EEG.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurofeedback / physiology*
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology
  • Young Adult