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Research related to neurofeedback in peak performance training

Alpha waves


Hardt and Kamiya ascertained that an increase in the amplitude of Alpha waves lowers the level of anxiety (and inversely: reduced amplitude of Alpha waves is associated with intensifying fear). They also observed that an increase in percentage of the Alpha waves was accompanied with an increase in creativity and psychological efficiency, particularly in competitive situations.


In independent experiments, Watson confirmed the anti-fear influence of the training of the Alpha waves. He found durability of achieved results within 18 months from the end of the training. He also observed long-term improvements of memory functioning, speed of information processing, perceptiveness and decision-making ability.


Hartfield (and later Crews and Landers) observed significant increase in the level of the Alpha waves in the left temporal and parietal regions of shooters, archers, and golf players, right before the shot or strike.


Hardt and Gale found out that an increase in the percentage of Alpha waves causes a significant increase of flexibility in creating ideas and images, which constitute the basis of problem solving.


Sterman et al. showed that overwork causes a lasting weakness of Alpha waves. This is accompanied with excessive focus on the external world, anxiety, and rigidity in problem solving.


Sterman et al. observed that percentage of Alpha waves changes serially in some regions of the cortex during brain involvement in cognitive processes. When a given part of information processing is ended, return occurs to a state of "supplying synchronization" with a predominance of Alpha waves in the 8 - 10Hz range. Slowed return to synchronization is associated with deterioration of recognizing, recalling and associating.


Putnam subjected a group of soldiers to neurofeedback, strengthening Alpha waves with eyes open. This training, apart from increasing the amplitude of the Alpha waves, caused attenuation of Theta waves. The author suggests its prophylactic usefulness before tasks executed under strong pressure, which requires durable focusing on surroundings. Such training is able to counteract "psychological burn out".

Upper subrange of Alpha waves


Craford et al. ascertained that in persons characterized by better durable attention, fewer errors and more efficient decision making, greater than standard increase in high frequency Alpha waves in the left brain hemisphere occurs during concentration.


Research of Neubauer et al. suggests that smaller desynchronization under the influence of stimuli occurs in the high frequency Alpha waves for more intelligent people.


Research of Klimesch shows that the neural network responsible for semantic memory is activated synchronously in the upper part of the Alpha band (about 12Hz).

SMR waves


In experiments with cats, Sterman discovered rhythmic waves in 12-15Hz band in the region of the head's vertex during states of motionless, vigilant awaiting of stimulus (the SMR waves). In consecutive tests , reward in moments of SMR wave generation, taught the animals to produce them "on request". It had also been accidentally discovered that cats trained this way were significantly more immune to convulsive substances.


Sterman detected SMR waves in humans. Training to strengthen these waves alleviated symptoms of epilepsy. Further research suggests that such training increases capability of organisms to maintain homeostasis.


Vernon et al. carried out experiments for training to increase the SMR waves. The increase in their amplitude was accompanied with reduction of the Theta wave level and the Beta components of higher frequencies. The training significantly improved results for tests of working memory, and to some extent attention as well.

Theta waves


Beatty et al. noticed that monotonous activities were associated with an increase in level of Theta waves. Training to reduce these waves reduced the quantity of errors made by radar operators.


O'Hanlon and Kelly found a relationship between the production of Theta waves and the number of errors made by long-distance truck drivers.


Rasey et al. determined that students reached considerably better results in the visual-aural test thanks to applying training which lowered the percentage of Theta waves and increased the level of SMR waves.

Synchronism of Alpha waves


Garroute and Aird found that in 75% of the symmetrical EEG locations for both brain hemispheres, Alpha and Beta waves were characterized by high levels of synchronization (time delays between the waves from both hemispheres did not exceed 5-10ms). They advanced the hypothesis that a central stimulator exists, forcing synchronous work of the hemispheres.


Banquest (later Levine et al. too) uncovered significantly higher synchronization of Alpha waves in both hemispheres of people immersed deeply in meditation. For the same people, larger participation of the left hemisphere was found during execution of analytic tasks in comparison with the control group not practicing meditation. But during three-dimensional tasks, larger participation of the right hemisphere was observed for meditators than for the control group.


Fehmi determined that a series of training sessions increasing the synchronicity of Alpha waves between many points of the cortex was effective for significant improvement in many psychological functions: concentration, perceptiveness, self-awareness, intuition, calm and overall life satisfaction. Fehmi thinks that the synchronicity level of Alpha waves in a relaxation state is the measure of communication between all areas of the brain, in particular between its hemispheres.


Tornton detected the connection between the coherence of Alpha waves in the left hemisphere and the results obtained in tests of the aural memory.

The research survey has been compiled with the use of

S.L.Norris, M.Currieri: "Performance Enhancement Training through Neurofeedback" in J.R.Evans, A.Abrabanel: "Introduction to Quantitative EEG and Neurofeedback", Academic Press, 1999.

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