Friday, February 12, 2016

Alpha neurofeedback training and its implications for studies of cognitive creativity

Research Area: 
Cognitive Neuroscience

Goal: To identify a reliable EEG neurofeedback training (NT) method that increases alpha power over the right posterior parietal-occipital cortex (PO8) in one to three brief sessions to allow future studies to use this method to test the causal role of alpha brain waves in cognition, in particular, creative cognition.

Previous findings:

  • Increased alpha power over right posterior cortex is associated with better creative cognition, including:
    • originality in divergent thinking (Grabner et al., 2007); and
    • insight solutions (Jung-Beeman et al., 2004; sensor location PO8)
  • Separately, alpha NT has been used to demonstrate a causal connection between alpha activity and cognitive function during a mental rotation task (Hanslmayr et al., 2005), but not yet during tasks of creative cognition.
  • Increased alpha power has been demonstrated in a single session of alpha neurofeedback (sensor location: Cz, eyes: closed, feedback signal: tone) in a within-subject design with repeated baseline (feedback absent) and training segments (feedback present) (Fell et al., 2002).
    • We tried but failed to replicate these results and therefore adapted this method (see below).
16th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society