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Title: An investigation into the optimum training paradigm for alpha electroencephalographic biofeedback
Author: Dempster, T.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2729 4221
Awarding Body: Canterbury Christ Church University
Current Institution: Canterbury Christ Church University
Date of Award: 2012
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Alpha neurofeedback training has been put forward for use in the optimal performance field as a way to enhance cognitive abilities and musical performance amongst others. The literature to date, however, has been characterised by methodological limitations and disagreement on procedural and analytic matters which makes drawing conclusions and comparing results problematic. To provide clarity to the field, and to enable effective investigation of the usefulness of alpha neurofeedback training in the realm of optimal performance, it would be useful if a standardised way of conducting alpha neurofeedback was established. It is unclear, for instance, what influence the current variations have on participants’ ability to train their alpha and to the outcome (e.g. on cognition) of their performance. This thesis therefore sets out to investigate whether there is an optimum methodology for alpha neurofeedback training. The first experiment was designed to establish an index of learning to use in the successive experiments; that is, to establish how alpha should be measured and how participants’ performance should be analysed. Fifty-two participants were given 10 sessions of once weekly alpha (8-12Hz) enhancement and alpha suppression training at Pz. From the results of this first experiment it was decided that amplitude and per cent time would be the measures used to investigate participants’ performance and that analyses of participants’ performance both within and across sessions would be examined. Further, it was decided that baseline measures needed to be incorporated in to the analyses in order to establish a clearer picture of participants’ ability to learn. Experiment 2 involved training 33 participants to both enhance and suppress their alpha (8-12Hz) at Pz. Over the course of 10 once weekly sessions, 17 participants trained with their eyes open and 16 were trained with their eyes closed. The results suggested that eyes open alpha neurofeedback training is a more optimal training paradigm than eyes closed. The third experiment therefore set out to examine whether the type of eyes open training has an influence on participants’ performance. Specifically, 15 participants were given audio feedback, 15 were given audio-visual feedback, and 17 were given visual feedback over the course of 10 once weekly alpha (8-12Hz) enhancement and alpha suppression sessions. The results showed that of the 3 types of feedback, audio feedback produced the more optimal results. Although there are further aspects of methodology and analysis to be investigated, the results from this thesis suggest that these fundamental design decisions do make a difference to the participants’ ability to exert a conscious control over their own EEG alpha activity suggesting that there is, in fact, an optimum methodology for alpha (8-12Hz) neurofeedback training.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RC0386 Electroencephalography