Researchers uncover how to boost learning efficiency in neurofeedback


Researchers from the HSE Centre for Cognition & Decision Making and the (Institute of Problems of Mechanical Engineering, Russian Academy of Sciences conducted a series of experiments in which participants learned to increase through neurofeedback the amount of Alpha waves produced by their brains. The scientists wanted to find out which characteristics of the Alpha bursts participants actually learned to control through the training- the amplitude, the duration of the spindles or their frequency. The EEG analysis showed that it was the frequency of occurrence of Alpha and hence the frequency of inducing an alpha state that increased as a result of the neurofeedback training. This discovery may contribute to non-pharmacological methods for treating epilepsy, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and depression. The research results were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Original article: Alexei Ossadtchi et al, Neurofeedback learning modifies the incidence rate of alpha spindles, but not their duration and amplitude, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-04012-0

Brain Stimulation May Improve Cognitive Performance in Those With Schizophrenia


The researchers applied tDCS with tasks which specifically tapped into ‘working memory’ and ‘executive functioning’: the principle was that ‘training’ the brain in regions that are typically poorly performing in schizophrenia would be enhanced by the brain stimulation technique.

Dr Natasza Orlov, first author from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, said: ‘It’s critical that we address some of the cognitive deficits seen in people with schizophrenia, as these determine how people do in real world settings, such as work and relationships.

Professor Sukhwinder Shergill, senior author from the IoPPN at King’s College London, said: ‘Our study is the first of its kind and confirms that tDCS may help with some aspects of cognitive deterioration in patients with schizophrenia. Given the lack of treatments in this area, this is enormously important. Our brain imaging data is also helping to understand how this is happening, which will support future research in this field.’

Source: Publication in & Jack Stonebridge – King’s College London

Image Source: image is adapted from the King’s College London news release.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Stimulating thought: a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study of transcranial direct current stimulation in schizophrenia” by Natasza D. Orlov, Owen O’Daly, Derek K. Tracy, Yusuf Danij, John Hodsoll, Lorena Valdearenas, John Rothwell, and Sukhi S. Shergill in Brain. Published online July 24 doi:10.1093/brain/awx170

Brain Evolved to Need Exercise


While much research has shown that exercise can be good for our brains, the link between how physical activity benefits the brain is not clearly understood. In a new study, researchers suggest the link between brain health and exercise could be a product of our evolutionary history and our hunter-gatherer past. Read the original blog post here.