Scientists discover neurofeedback helps to control learning success

on 20 January 2019
The power of positive feedback

Giving yourself positive and empowering feedback can be so easy to do but, it can also be very easy to not do and the truth appears to point towards too few people doing it. However, for those who do, the rewards are extremely beneficial. What would you do . . . 

We are not programmed to notice the absence of emotion!

I often start a session, with a current client, by asking, "how has the past week been?" Often I get an OK response, of course, OK doesn't tell me much at all, it leaves too much to me guessing. So, I ask them to expand on OK. What I direct them to focus on, is, has it been OK because nothing has happened or has stuff happened and they just dealt with it, meaning it scored near zero on the emotional Richter scale! I direct them to be aware of things that, ordinarily don't happen but now do and things that, ordinarily do happen but now don't. You see, when we have a sore knee, it gets our attention but we rarely notice that point when it stopped hurting, mostly because it doesn't get our attention. 

The point I am hoping to make is that by focusing on these, often, subtle shifts in behaviour, we have the opportunity to give positive feedback to our brain and mind. If we close our eyes, the brain starts emitting alpha brainwaves (alpha oscillations) and if we then focus on the change that has occurred, remember it, feel it, relive it, this, in collaboration with alpha waves helps the brain/mind to reinforce the new behaviour. Dentists, years ago knew about this because they knew that kids just hated the dentist and that was bad for business, so, they used to give them a sweet/candy if they were a good little boy or girl. Obviously, a terrible thing for a dentist to give to a child but the potential of creating a desire/reward to go to the dentist in the future outweighs the detrimental effect of the sweet! This research goes some way to explaining how this occurs in the brain and actually involves a number of brain regions, not least of which are: the hippocampus, dentate gyrus (part of the hippocampus) the entorhinal cortex (a gateway to areas of the cerebrum) and the amygdala and its neighbours. . .  While not specifically the same, in terms of the way the brain responds to reward, it's close enough for practical purposes.

In order to create a good habit, the brain often responds better when there is a perceived reward. This works in both the positive and the negative. While a positive reward needs little by way of an explanation, an example of a reward in the negative, albeit slightly weaker than a positive, occurs in anxiety, through avoidance strategies. Avoidance creates the absence of a fearful response, which, in brain terms, has all the hallmarks of a reward. Take a fear of lifts, for example, the fear will often lead to taking the stairs, in addition to avoiding the fear of the lift, one also becomes fitter as a consequence of the extra exercise. This has the potential to reinforce the avoidance strategy by creating a double reward, both of which have beneficial effects, as long as you are not on the 80th floor!

Hypnotherapy has the potential to drastically turn your life around but it also helps if you give it some conscious and empowering reinforcement by using the above method of neural feedback. The advantage of this type of feedback is that it creates a positive feedback mechanism that can be used in almost every area of life. Most people come in for one or sometimes a couple of issues, which are sometimes linked or naturally comorbid conditions. However, hypnotherapy can be structured in such a way that it works in many areas of life, this is because of the unique way it restructures the way the brain processes information. Hence my mantra: Hypnotherapy can make a bad life good and a good life great! Which of those two would you like? Sadly far too many people stop at the good life. However, in fairness to them, life after the bad life can actually feel great but more is almost always possible!

Hypnotherapy stands out as one of the most effective strategic life management methods there is, especially in its ability to promote clear thinking and good states of mental wellness. The behaviours that make life challenging are often a result of too much stress, too little sleep and too little by way of clarity! So, to get or take back control of your mind and your life, it makes perfect sense to use a methodology that addresses the subconscious mind's role in perpetuating negative, vague and ambiguous states of mind. Hypnosis helps us to create calm relaxing states of mind that make life work better! If you would like to address any concerns you have in this direction, or, if you just want to make your life feel better,  then why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation? Hypnosis gives you the ability to have a good life! 

The objective here is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into irrational emotional experiences that may actually be happening for reasons different to that which we would imagine! If you want to know more about how Hypnotherapy can help you; why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - Go Here Or, to book your Free Consultation today, you can do so here

The Research: 

Our brain uses filter systems to efficiently manage the gigantic amounts of information that flow over us. Neuronal alpha oscillations are among them. They help to reduce the flow of information in certain brain regions. The oscillations can be specifically influenced by special training. A team from the Neural Plasticity Lab at the Institute of Neuroinformatics at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) and the Department of Neurology at the RUB Hospital Bergmannsheil has discovered that test subjects can influence their learning success in a tactile task themselves. They report on the work in the journal Nature Communications on 16 January 2019.

The interplay of inhibition and disinhibition

Thanks to an interplay of inhibition and disinhibition of certain areas, our brain can always guarantee the processing of, particularly important stimuli. Neuronal alpha-oscillations regulate the flow of information in certain regions of the brain so that capacities for the processing of new stimuli are released. "The correct timing of alpha oscillations is strongly related to performance in cognitive tasks and perception tests," explains Dr Hubert Dinse from the Institute of Neuroinformatics and the Department of Neurology at Bergmannsheil. So far, however, it has not been clear whether learning outcomes can also be influenced by alpha oscillations. In order to clarify this, the team, which also includes Hubert Dinse, Marion Brickwedde and Marie C. Krüger, taught young healthy people how to regulate their alpha oscillations up or down.

Thoughts and feelings influence the oscillations

For two consecutive days, the test subjects took part in what is known as neurofeedback training, during which they received real-time feedback on their brain signal in the form of colours on a computer screen. "In this way, the participants were able to learn which thoughts or feelings they could use to amplify or reduce alpha oscillations in touch-processing regions of the brain," explains Marion Brickwedde. Following this, the right index finger of the participants was electrically stimulated for 20 minutes. This stimulates cortical learning processes and improves the sense of touch. This process is independent of previous experience, motivation or attention and thus enables a particularly efficient investigation of the cortical basis of learning.

Learning success intensifies or is absent

Participants who were able to successfully amplify their alpha oscillations experienced a particularly strong improvement in their sense of touch. In contrast, participants who reduced their alpha oscillations did not improve at all on average as a result of the stimulation.

Possible means in everyday life, rehabilitation and clinics

This process can be explained by a targeted neuronal distribution of resources. Strong alpha oscillations reduce information processing, releasing many neuronal resources that are then available for important incoming information. If only a few resources are available, as is the case with low alpha oscillations, information processing is less efficient. "Alpha neurofeedback training could, therefore, be a means of enhancing learning success in everyday, rehabilitative or clinical contexts," concludes Hubert Dinse.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Ruhr-University BochumNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Marion Brickwedde, Marie C. Krüger, Hubert R. Dinse. Somatosensory alpha oscillations gate perceptual learning efficiencyNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-08012-0

Cite This Page:

Ruhr-University Bochum. "Neurofeedback helps to control learning success." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2019. <>.