How Does Neurofeedback Work?

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Biofeedback (BFB) and neurofeedback (NFB) training are two potential methods for non-invasively modulating human physiological activity in conjunction with cognitive, emotional, and behavioural functioning. In this paper, we review the current state of the art in terms of the efficacy of BFB and NFB studies for improving cognitive function in non-clinical settings. We examine the various training procedures, as well as the underlying theoretical viewpoints and cognitive performance outcomes. BFB and NFB were found to be promising training strategies in this study. However, the use of different terminology to refer to identical ideas, as well as distinct methodological designs and cognitive tests and apparent discrepancies in NFB frequency ranges, make it difficult to compare results across research and draw broad conclusions. Furthermore, the long-term consequences of both training and therefore the sustainability of the attained cognitive gain remain mainly unexplored until now. Despite the encouraging outcomes of both approaches, this overview analyses the challenges that have been encountered and proposes solutions in order to provide a conclusive answer to the title question: “Do biofeedback and neurofeedback work as a strategy for improving cognitive performance?”

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