Neurofeedback of Alpha Activity on Memory in Healthy Participants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Wen Hsiu Yeh, Jen Jui Hsueh, Fu Zen Shaw

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Neurofeedback training (NFT) has recently been proposed as a valuable technique for cognitive enhancement and psychiatric amelioration. However, effect of NFT of alpha activity on memory is controversial. The current study analyzed previous works in terms of randomized and blinded analyses, training paradigms, and participant characteristics to validate the efficacy of alpha NFT on memory in a healthy population. Objectives: A systematic meta-analysis of studies with randomized controlled trials was performed to explore the effect of alpha NFT on working memory (WM) and episodic memory (EM) in a healthy population. Methods: We searched PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library from January 1, 1999, to November 30, 2019. Previous studies were evaluated with the Cochrane risk of bias (RoB). A meta-analysis calculating absolute weighted standardized mean difference (SMD) using random-effects models was employed. Heterogeneity was estimated using I2 statistics. Funnel plots and Egger's test were performed to evaluate the quality of evidence. Results: Sixteen studies with 217 healthy participants in the control group and 210 participants in the alpha group met the eligibility criteria. Alpha NFT studies with WM measures presented little publication bias (P = 0.116), and 5 of 7 domains in the Cochrane RoB exhibited a low risk of bias. The overall effect size from 14 WM studies was 0.56 (95% CI 0.31–0.81, P < 0.0001; I2 = 28%). Six EM studies exhibited an effect size of 0.77 (95% CI 0.06–1.49, P = 0.03; I2 = 77%). Conclusion: Meta-analysis results suggest that alpha NFT seems to have a positive effect on the WM and EM of healthy participants. Future efforts should focus on the neurophysiological mechanisms of alpha NFT in memory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number562360
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 5

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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