Neurofeedback training with a low-priced EEG device leads to faster alpha enhancement but shows no effect on cognitive performance: A single-blind, sham-feedback study

Naas, Adrian Herbert Heinz; Sonderegger, Andreas (2019). Neurofeedback training with a low-priced EEG device leads to faster alpha enhancement but shows no effect on cognitive performance: A single-blind, sham-feedback study PLoS One, 14(9), pp. 1-25. Public Library of Science (PLoS) 10.1371/journal.pone.0211668

file.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (2MB) | Preview

Introduction Findings of recent studies indicate that it is possible to enhance cognitive capacities of healthy individuals by means of individual upper alpha neurofeedback training (NFT). Although these results are promising, most of this research was conducted based on high-priced EEG systems developed for clinical and research purposes. This study addresses the question whether such effects can also be shown with an easy to use and comparably low-priced Emotiv Epoc EEG headset available for the average consumer. In addition, critical voices were raised regarding the control group designs of studies addressing the link between neurofeedback training and cognitive performance. Based on an extensive literature review revealing considerable methodological issues in an important part of the existing research, the present study addressed the question whether individual upper alpha neurofeedback has a positive effect on alpha amplitudes (i.e. increases alpha amplitudes) and short-term memory performance focussing on a methodologically sound, single-blinded, sham controlled design. Method Participants (N = 33) took part in four test sessions over four consecutive days of either neurofeedback training (NFT group) or sham feedback (SF group). In the NFT group, five three-minute periods of visual neurofeedback training were administered each day whereas in the SF group (control group), the same amount of sham feedback was presented. Performance on eight digit-span tests as well as participants’ affective states were assessed before and after each of the daily training sessions. Results NFT did not show an effect on individual upper alpha and cognitive performance. While performance increased in both groups over the course of time, this effect could not be explained by changes in individual upper alpha. Additional analyses however revealed that participants in the NFT group showed faster and larger increase in alpha compared to the SF group. Surprisingly, exploratory analyses showed a significant correlation between the initial alpha level and the alpha improvement during the course of the study. This finding suggests that participants with high initial alpha levels benefit more from alpha NFT interventions. In the discussion, the appearance of the alpha enhancement in the SF group and possible reasons for the absence of a connection between NFT and short-term memory are addressed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


Business School > Institute for New Work > Achtsamkeit und Positive Leadership
Business School


Naas, Adrian Herbert Heinz0000-0002-8662-5794 and
Sonderegger, Andreas0000-0003-0054-0544


B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry




Public Library of Science (PLoS)


[UNSPECIFIED] Council of the University of Fribourg ; [UNSPECIFIED] Fonds d’action Facultaire (FAF) of the Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines




Adrian Herbert Heinz Naas

Date Deposited:

02 Dec 2022 10:37

Last Modified:

03 Nov 2023 09:52

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Neurofeedback Training Biofeedback Leistungssteigerung Kurzzeitgedächtnis Gedächtnis Memory Performance Short-Term




Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Provide Feedback