Neurofeedback or electroencephalographic operant conditioning (EEG-OC) is an EEG biofeedback technique used to train individuals to control or modify their cortical activity through learned self-regulation. Initially used for treating a variety of pathologies, neurofeedback has been employed more recently to improve the physical or cognitive performance of human beings. The purpose of this study is to assess the hypothesis of the effect of neurofeedback (the ‘awakened mind’ model) on the memory performance of subjects aged over 65. 30 participants were shared equally between 3 groups: an experimental group that underwent 4 neurofeedback training sessions; a non-neurofeedback group trained at relaxation; and a ‘waiting list’ control group. Results showed that the members of the Neurofeedback group learned to increase the spectral power of the alpha frequency range as well as the alpha/thêta ratio, and that compared with the members of the two other groups, neurofeedback training resulted in a more pronounced decrease, albeit without any relation to changes in EEG activity and the level of stress and anxiety of participants undergoing such training. Yet contrary to expectations, no improvement of memory performance (differed recall of words and learning of lists of words) was observed. These mixed results, which suggest a wide range of applications, underline the need for a more systematic assessment of the potential applications of NFB training in elderly humans in order to be better able to specify the effects of the retained protocol on cognitive performance.
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