BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Mid-frontal theta oscillations discriminate between sham-control and neurofeedback training manipulations: a signal detection analysis

    Davelaar, Eddy J. and Eatough, Virginia and Etienne, Mervyn and Ozolins, C. (2018) Mid-frontal theta oscillations discriminate between sham-control and neurofeedback training manipulations: a signal detection analysis. Current Neurobiology 9 (3), pp. 95-100. ISSN 0975-9042.

    24548.pdf - Published Version of Record

    Download (578kB) | Preview


    Neurofeedback training allows people to control their brain wave oscillations, which has been reported to be beneficial in alleviating symptoms associated with clinical conditions and enhancing cognitive ability in healthy individuals. However, to provide scientific evidence to this effect, placebo-controlled studies are needed that control for the influence of practice, motivation, and the passage of time. One widely used design feature is the use of a sham-control condition, in which the participant is deceived into thinking that a true training procedure is being implemented. During post-study debriefing, participants typically report not knowing whether they were in the control or training condition and thus the sham-control design is regarded as being successful. We present results that cast doubt on the person’s inability to detect group membership. Sixty participants were randomly allocated to an EEG neurofeedback training group for upregulating mid-frontal (Fz) alpha band (8 - 12 Hz) power or a sham-control group. We observed that participants were at chance in identifying their group membership during post-study debriefing. However, the relative power in the theta band (4 - 7 Hz) decreased over training blocks in the neurofeedback group, but remained constant in the sham-control group. The slope of the change in relative theta power was shown to be a reliable classifier of group membership as demonstrated using signal-detection analysis (AUC = .73). These results call into doubt the praise for sham-control conditions, and we recommend that researchers assess the brain’s ability to detect group membership in addition to post-study verbal reports.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): EEG neurofeedback, sham-controlled, theta oscillation, unconscious detection
    School: School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Virginia Eatough
    Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2018 12:46
    Last Modified: 12 Jun 2021 20:41


    Activity Overview

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item