Neocortical dynamics: implications for understanding the role of neurofeedback and related techniques for the enhancement of attention

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 1997 Jun;22(2):111-26. doi: 10.1023/a:1026276228832.


For nearly 25 years, EEG biofeedback (neurofeedback) has been utilized in research and clinical settings for the treatment and investigation of a number of disorders ranging from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to seizure disorders as well as many other established and investigational applications. Until recently, mechanisms underlying the generation and origins of EEG have been poorly understood but now are beginning to become much more clarified. Now it is important to combine the information gathered on the genesis of EEG and neocortical dynamics with the findings from neurofeedback investigations. This will help us to develop models of how neurofeedback might operate in producing the changes in EEG and in clinical symptomatology. We know that the cortex operates in terms of resonant loops between neocortical columns of cells known as local, regional, and global resonances. These resonances determine the specific EEG frequencies and are often activated by groups of cells in the thalamus known as pacemakers. There are complex excitatory and inhibitory interactions within the cortex and between the cortex and the thalamus that allow these loops to operate and provide the basis for learning. Neurofeedback is a technique for modifying these resonant loops, and hence, modifying the neurophysiological and neurological basis for learning and for the management of a number of neurologically based disorders. This paper provides an introduction to understanding EEG and neocortical dynamics and how these concepts can be used to explain the results of neurofeedback training and other interventions particularly in the context of understanding attentive mechanisms and for the management of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / physiology*
  • Child
  • Electroencephalography / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Neocortex / physiology*