Effects of neurofeedback and working memory-combined training on executive functions in healthy young adults

Shirley Gordon, Doron Todder, Inbal Deutsch, Dror Garbi, Oren Alkobi, Oren Shriki, Anat Shkedy-Rabani, Nitzan Shahar, Nachshon Meiran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Given the interest in improving executive functions, the present study examines a promising combination of two training techniques: neurofeedback training (NFT) and working memory training (WMT). NFT targeted increasing the amplitude of individual’s upper Alpha frequency band at the parietal midline scalp location (Pz), and WMT consisted of an established computerized protocol with working memory updating and set-shifting components. Healthy participants (n = 140) were randomly allocated to five combinations of training, including visual search training used as an active control training for the WMT; all five groups were compared to a sixth silent control group receiving no training. All groups were evaluated before and after training for resting-state electroencephalogram (EEG) and behavioral executive function measures. The participants in the silent control group were unaware of this procedure, and received one of the training protocols only after study has ended. Results demonstrated significant improvement in the practice tasks in all training groups including non-specific influence of NFT on resting-state EEG spectral topography. There was only a near transfer effect (improvement in working memory task) for WMT, which remained significant in the delayed post-test (after 1 month), in comparison to silent control group but not in comparison to active control training group. The NFT + WMT combined group showed improved mental rotation ability both in the post-training and in the follow-up evaluations. This improvement, however, did not differ significantly from that in the silent control group. We conclude that the current training protocols, including their combination, have very limited influence on the executive functions that were assessed in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1586-1609
Number of pages24
JournalPsychological Research
Volume84
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

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