Introduction Findings of recent studies have proposed that it is possible to enhance cognitive capacities of healthy individuals by means of individual upper alpha (around 10 to 13.5 Hz) neurofeedback training. Although these results are promising, most of this research was conducted based on high-priced EEG systems developed for clinical and research purposes only. 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 or sham feedback (control group). In the experimental group, five three-minute periods of visual neurofeedback training were administered each day whereas in the 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 Participants in the neurofeedback training (NFT) group showed faster and greater alpha enhancement compared to the control group. Contrary to the authors' expectations, alpha enhancement was also observed in the control 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 profit more from alpha NFT interventions. digit-span performance increased in both groups over the course of time. However, the increase in individual upper relative alpha did not explain significant variance of digit-span improvement. In the discussion, the authors explore the appearance of the alpha enhancement in the control group and possible reasons for the absence of a connection between NFT and short-term memory.