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      SMR Neurofeedback Training Facilitates Working Memory Performance in Healthy Older Adults: A Behavioral and EEG Study

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          Cognitive aging has become a major concern because life expectancy has increased and elderly populations are socially and economically active. Neurofeedback is a technique of neuromodulation through operant conditioning paradigm that uses a computer interface to provide real-time information about brain activity to increase individual self-perception and assist in modulation. The sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) training protocol is known to enhance attention and has been applied to improve cognitive performance, primarily for attention and memory gains. The aim of this study is to test if the SMR protocol can improve working memory performance in an aging population and consequently favor cognitive reserve. Seventeen older adults (12 females) took part in a randomized placebo-controlled study. They completed a visual working memory test, Delayed Matching to Sample Task (DMTS), before and after the SMR neurofeedback protocol in order to compare their visual working memory performance. Moreover, a 19-channels EEG was collected while they perform the DMTS pre- and post-training. The experimental group showed an improvement in their working memory performance after the training with similar activation power, mainly in theta and beta frequency band at frontal and alpha at temporal regions. The sham group showed some variations in the score of working memory after the training, but were not statistically significant and their power spectrum demonstrate enhancement in alpha and beta band frontal and temporal. The group that did not receive neurofeedback training did not show a change in their working memory performance, neither in their EEG spectrum. The results suggest that neurofeedback can benefit brain reserve in an aging population because individuals enhanced their working memory performance after training and have their EEG activation changed according to expected in working memory tasks.

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          Most cited references 52

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          EEG alpha and theta oscillations reflect cognitive and memory performance: a review and analysis.

          Evidence is presented that EEG oscillations in the alpha and theta band reflect cognitive and memory performance in particular. Good performance is related to two types of EEG phenomena (i) a tonic increase in alpha but a decrease in theta power, and (ii) a large phasic (event-related) decrease in alpha but increase in theta, depending on the type of memory demands. Because alpha frequency shows large interindividual differences which are related to age and memory performance, this double dissociation between alpha vs. theta and tonic vs. phasic changes can be observed only if fixed frequency bands are abandoned. It is suggested to adjust the frequency windows of alpha and theta for each subject by using individual alpha frequency as an anchor point. Based on this procedure, a consistent interpretation of a variety of findings is made possible. As an example, in a similar way as brain volume does, upper alpha power increases (but theta power decreases) from early childhood to adulthood, whereas the opposite holds true for the late part of the lifespan. Alpha power is lowered and theta power enhanced in subjects with a variety of different neurological disorders. Furthermore, after sustained wakefulness and during the transition from waking to sleeping when the ability to respond to external stimuli ceases, upper alpha power decreases, whereas theta increases. Event-related changes indicate that the extent of upper alpha desynchronization is positively correlated with (semantic) long-term memory performance, whereas theta synchronization is positively correlated with the ability to encode new information. The reviewed findings are interpreted on the basis of brain oscillations. It is suggested that the encoding of new information is reflected by theta oscillations in hippocampo-cortical feedback loops, whereas search and retrieval processes in (semantic) long-term memory are reflected by upper alpha oscillations in thalamo-cortical feedback loops. Copyright 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.
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            Working Memory Capacity as Executive Attention

             Randall Engle (2016)
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              High-speed scanning in human memory.

               S Sternberg (1966)
              When subjects judge whether a test symbol is contained in a short memorized sequence of symbols, their mean reaction-time increases linearly with the length of the sequence. The linearity and slope of the function imply the existence of an internal serial-comparison process whose average rate is between 25 and 30 symbols per second.

                Author and article information

                Front Behav Neurosci
                Front Behav Neurosci
                Front. Behav. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                20 December 2018
                : 12
                1Laboratory of Neuroscience and Behavior, Institute of Biology, University of Brasília , Brasília, Brazil
                2Department of Psychology, Euro-American University Center (UNIEURO) , Brasília, Brazil
                3Laboratory of Neuroscience and Behavior, CEUMA University , São Luis, Brazil
                Author notes

                Edited by: Nuno Sousa, Instituto de Pesquisa em Ciências da Vida e da Saúde (ICVS), Portugal

                Reviewed by: Olga M. Bazanova, State Scientific-Research Institute of Physiology & Basic Medicine, Russia; Edgardo O. Alvarez, Laboratorio de Neuropsicofarmacología Experimental—CONICET Mendoza, Argentina

                *Correspondence: Carlos Tomaz ctomaz@
                Copyright © 2018 Campos da Paz, Garcia, Campos da Paz Neto and Tomaz.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 68, Pages: 11, Words: 8222
                Original Research


                aging, working memory, brain stimulation, neurofeedback, neuromodulation


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