Effect of beta and gamma neurofeedback on memory and intelligence in the elderly

S.M. Staufenbiela,b,∗, A.-M. Brouwerb, A.W. Keizerc, N.C. van Wouwed

a Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
b TNO Behavioral and Societal Sciences, Soesterberg, The Netherlands
c Neurofeedback Instituut Nederland, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
d Vanderbilt Medical Center, Nashville, United States


Recent research showed a correlation between cognitive decline and a decrease of EEG gamma activity. In the present double-blind randomized control study, we investigated whether gamma and beta neurofeedback protocols, that have been shown to modulate performance on cognitive control and memory in young adults, also leads to increased brain activity and cognitive performance in elderly. Twenty older adults either performed eight 30-min gamma neurofeedback session or beta neurofeedback session within a period of 21 days. Cognitive performance was determined before and after the training through an IQ and memory task and we added a subjective well-being questionnaire. Both neurofeedback training protocols resulted in a significant increase of the brain activity within each training session, suggesting that the aging brain is still trainable. However, we found no effects on cognitive performance or transfer of the feedback beyond the trainings. We discuss several possible reasons for the lack of training on rest measurements and cognition and ways to improve the feedback protocols for future studies.