Washington: Researchers in Canada have found that training of the well-known brainwave in humans, the alpha rhythm, enhances a brain network responsible for cognitive-control.The training technique, termed neurofeedback, is being considered as a promising new method for restoring brain function in mental disorders.Using several neuroimaging methods, a team of researchers at the Western University and the Lawson Health Research Institute have now uncovered that functional changes within a key brain network occur directly after a 30-minute session of noninvasive, neural-based training.Dysfunction of this cognitive-control network has previously been implicated in a range of brain disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.During neurofeedback, users learn to control their own brain activity with the help of a brain-computer interface. In the simplest case, this consists of a computer that records brainwaves through surface sensors on the scalp, known as an EEG (electroencephalogram).The system is then able to process and simultaneously represent a user’s real-time brain activity, displayed from moment-to-moment during a training game on a computer. This set-up is known as a neurofeedback loop, because information of brain activity is continually fed-back to a user reflecting their level of control.Such real-time feedback allows users to reproduce distinct brain states under physiologically-normal conditions, promising to be an innovative way to foster brain changes without adverse effects.This is possible because of neuroplasticity, a natural property of the brain that enables it to reorganise after continual training, resulting from adjustments to its own activity.The new findings firstly help to address a long-standing issue in the field: whether neurofeedback training can trigger any brain changes at all?
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