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Ecological validity of neurofeedback: modulation of slow wave EEG enhances musical performance

Egner, Tobias; Gruzelier, John H

COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE AND NEUROPSYCHOLOGY

Biofeedback-assisted modulation of electrocortical activity has been established to have intrinsic clinical benefits and has been shown to improve cognitive performance in healthy humans. In order to further investigate the pedagogic relevance of electroencephalograph (EEG) biofeedback (neurofeedback) for enhancing normal function, a series of investigations assessed the training's impact on an ecologically valid real-life behavioural performance measure: music performance under stressful conditions in conservatoire students. In a pilot study, single-blind expert ratings documented improvements in musical performance in a student group that received training on attention and relaxation related neurofeedback protocols, and improvements were highly correlated with learning to progressively raise theta (5–8 Hz) over alpha (8–11 Hz) band amplitudes. These findings were replicated in a second experiment where an alpha/theta training group displayed significant performance enhancement not found with other neurofeedback training protocols or in alternative interventions, including the widely applied Alexander technique.

Department of Cognitive Neuroscience and Behaviour, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, St Dunstan's Rd, London W6 8RF, UKCACorresponding Author: t.egner@imperial.ac.uk

Received 25 September 2002; accepted 5 October 2002

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.