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Peak Performance in Sport and Cognitive Function


Arns, M., Kleinnijenhuis, M., Fallahpour, K., & Bretler, R. (2007). Golf performance enhancement and reallife neurofeedback training using personalized event-locked EEG profiles. Journal of Neurotherapy , 11(4), 11-18.

Background. This study reports on a new method for golf performance enhancement employing personalized real-life neurofeedback during golf putting.


Method. Participants (n = 6) received an assessment and three real-life neurofeedback training sessions. In the assessment, a personal event-locked electroencephalographic (EEG) profile at FPz was determined for successful versus unsuccessful putts. Target frequency bands and amplitudes marking optimal prefrontal brain state were d erived from the profile by two raters. The training sessions consisted of four series of 80 putts in an ABAB design. The feedback in the second and fourth series was administered in the form of a continuous NoGo tone, whereas in the first and  third series no feedback was provided. This tone was terminated only when the participants EEG met the assessment-defined criteria. In the feedback series, participants were instructed to perform the putt only after the NoGo tone had ceased. Results. From the personalized event-locked EEG profiles, individual training protocols were established. The interrater reliability was 91%. The overall percentage of successful putts was significantly larger in the second and fourth series (feedback) of training compared to the fi rst and third series (no feedback). Furthermore, most participants improved their performance with feedback on their personalized EEG profile, with 25% on average.


Conclusions. This study demonstrates that the “zone” or the optimal mental state for golf putting shows clear recognizable personalized patterns. The learning effects suggest that this real-life approach to neurofeedback improves learning speed, probably by tapping into learning associated with contextual conditioning rather than operant conditioning, indicating perspectives for clinical applications.


Budzynski, T. H. (1996). Brain brightening: Can neurofeedback improve cognitive process? Biofeedback, 24(2), 14-17. (Abstract to follow) 

Cannon, R., Kerson, C., Hampshire, A. & Coleman, G. L. (2013). Assessing the functional integrity of the default network in adult ADHD with fMRI and sLORETA. Journal of Neurotherapy; 16(1).

Intrinsic functional connectivity within the default network (DMN) of the brain has gained growing interest in attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The DMN is proposed to support such core functions as theory of mind, self-related activities such as autobiographical self, stimulus independent thought, self-projection, self reference and introspective processes as well as central features of self-regulation, task compliance and executive functions. The present study recorded brain activity using both EEG and fMRI during rest and task. The rest data were analyzed using sLORETA and a psychophysiological interaction model respectively. Medial prefrontal and left parietal region connectivity showed the greatest difference when comparing ADHD to control in theta, alpha1 and alpha 2.


Raymond, J., Sajid, I., Parkinson, L. A., & Gruzelier, J. H. (2005). Biofeedback and dance performance: A preliminary investigation. Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback , 30(1), 65-74.

Alpha-theta neurofeedback has been shown to produce professionally significant performance improvements in music students. The present study aimed to extend this work to a different performing art and compare alpha  theta neurofeedback with another form of biofeedback: heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback. Twenty-four ballroom and Latin dancers were randomly allocated to three groups, one receiving neurofeedback, one HRV biofeedback and one no intervention. Dance was assessed before and after training. Performance improvements were found in the biofeedback groups but not in the control group. Neurofeedback and HRV biofeedback benefited performance in different ways. A replication with larger sample sizes is required.


Sherlin, LH., Larson, SC. & Sherlin, RM. (2013). Developing a performance training approach for baseball: A process analysis with descriptive data. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback:38(1). 29-44.

Neurofeedback may be useful for improving sports performance but few studies have examined this potential. Here we present data of five development players from a major league baseball team. The aims were to evaluate the feasibility of conducting sessions within a professional organization, assess changes in quantitative electroencephalograph (QEEG), NeuroPerformance Profile™, and report qualitative self-report data before and after brain training. The EEG was recorded with 19 electrodes for 20 min of baseline conditions and approximately 21 min of a continuous performance test. The fast Fourier transform analysis provided average cross-spectral matrices for bands delta (1-3.5 Hz), theta (4-7.5 Hz), alpha (8-12 Hz), low beta (13-16 Hz), beta 1 (13-21 Hz), beta 2 (22-32 Hz), and gamma (32-45 Hz) from the pre and post intervention evaluations in the baseline condition of eyes open.The continuous performance test metrics included the errors of omission, errors of commission, response time and response time variability. The 9 scales of the NeuroPerformance Profile™ were examined. NeuroPerformance Profile™ data were all compared between the pre and post 15 sessions of brain training using a withinsubject paired t test design corrected for multiple comparisons using false discovery rate method. Following brain training, comparative QEEG, CPT and NeuroPerformance Profile™ analyses illustrated significant differences. The QEEG findings of all participants illustrated significant changes within the training parameters but also across other frequency bands and electrode sites. Overall, the positive findings in both objective and subjective measures suggest further inquiry into the utility of brain training for performance enhancement with the specific application of sport is warranted. Particularly QEEG and CPT gains were noted in the areas that correspond to client self-report data demonstrating improvement in attention, decreased intrusive thought patterns and improvements in sleep patterns.


Sokhadze, E. (2012). Peak performance training using prefrontal EEG biofeedback. Biofeedback , 39, 7-15.

The use of biofeedback training to self regulate EEG patterns with the aim of recovering or optimizing function and behavioral performance is becoming increasingly established. The most reasonable approach is to learn to generate and maintain optimal brain wave patterns and produce associated peak performance states on demand. We report two studies where 12 sessions of prefrontal EEG feedback were used to improve performance in both clinical and nonclinical populations. Neurofeedback using Focus, Alertness, and 40 Hz (Neureka!) measures resulted in improved selective attention and other cognitive functions. We discuss other potential applications of neurofeedback in the areas of “under-pressure” activity, where peak performance state is an essential part of the job, such as in sports or the performing arts, as well as for human operators, such as air traffic dispatchers and military personnel on duty.


Gruzelier, JH. (2014). EEG-neurofeedback for optimizing performance. II: Creativity, the performing arts and ecological validity. Neurosci Biobehav Rev: Jul:44. 142-158.

As a continuation of a review of evidence of the validity of cognitive/affective gains following neurofeedback in healthy participants, including correlations in support of the gains being mediated by feedback learning (Gruzelier, 2014a), the focus here is on the impact on creativity, especially in the performing arts including music, dance and acting. The majority of research involves alpha/theta (A/T), sensory-motor rhythm (SMR) and heart rate variability (HRV) protocols. There is evidence of reliable benefits from A/T training with advanced musicians especially for creative performance, and reliable benefits from both A/T and SMR training for novic e music performance in adults and in a school study with children with impact on 

creativity, communication/presentation and technique. Making the SMR ratio training context ecologically relevant for actors enhanced creativity in stage performance, with added benefits from the more immersive training context. A/T and HRV training have benefitted dancers. The neurofeedback evidence adds to the rapidly accumulating validation of neurofeedback, while performing arts studies offer an opportunity for ecological validity in creativity research for both creative process and product.


Gruzelier, JH, Foks, M, Steffert, T, Chen, MJ. & Ros, T. (2013). Beneficial outcome from EEG-neurofeedback on creative music performance, attention and well-being in school children. Biol Psychol. 2013 Apr 25. pii: S0301 0511(13)00099-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2013.04.005. [Epub ahead of print]. We earlier reported benefits for creativity in rehearsed music performance from alpha/theta (A/T) neurofeedback in conservatoire studies (Egner & Gruzelier, 2003) which were not found with SMR, Beta1, mental skills, aerobics or Alexander training, or in standby controls. Here the focus was the impact on novice music performance. A/T and SMR training were compared in 11- year old school children along with non-intervention controls with outcome measures not only of rehearsed music performance but also of creative improvisation, as well as sustained attention and phenomenology. Evidence of effective learning in the school setting was obtained for A/T and SMR/beta2 ratios. Preferential benefits from A/T for rehearsed music performance were replicated in children for technique and communication ratings. Benefits extended to creativity and communication ratings for creative improvisation which were shared with SMR training, disclosing an influence of SMR on unrehearsed music performance at a novice level with its greater cognitive demands. In a first application of A/T for improving sustained attention (TOVA), it was found to be more successful than SMR training, with a notable reduction in commission errors in the children, 15/33 of whom had attention indices in the ADHD range. Phenomenological reports were in favour of neurofeedback and well being benefits. Implementing neurofeedback in the daily school setting proved feasible and holds pedagogic promise.

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