Disinhibition and inhibition work together in our brain to guarantee that the most important inputs are always processed. As alpha-oscillations in specific brain regions manage the flow of information, the brain’s ability to process new information is activated. Alpha oscillation time is “robustly associated with performance in sensory and cognitive tasks,” Dr Hubert Dinse of the Bergmannsheil Department of Neurology and the Institute of Neuroinformatics says.
However, it’s not been clear whether alpha oscillations also affect learning outcomes until now. Thus, the team, which also included Hubert Dinse, Marie C. Krüger, and Marion Brickwedde, taught the young healthy persons how to lower or raise their alpha oscillations.
During two consecutive days of neurofeedback training, the study participants received a real-time response to their brain signal in the form of colours on a computer monitor. A 20-minute electrical stimulation of the right index finger of each subject followed. This boosts the sense of touch as well as the brain’s ability to learn. Cortical fundamentals of learning can be studied more effectively with this method because it doesn’t require prior knowledge, attention, or motivation.
Test individuals who were able to increase the strength of their alpha oscillations reported a significant improvement in their tactile perception. Alpha oscillations, on the other hand, had no effect on test individuals whose alpha oscillations were reduced. “Alpha neurofeedback training can thus serve as a technique to improve learning success in daily, clinical or rehabilitation circumstances,” said Dr. Dinse at the time.
Neurofeedback training may also be able to reduce military personnel’s risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.