Every once in a while we like to feature a breakthrough study in the field of neurofeedback. A recent study published by Neuroscience News (based on work from ATR Brain Information) announced that researchers have developed a novel neurofeedback technique based on Pavlovian conditioning that detects when a person’s mind is wandering.

What is Mind-Wandering?

Mind-wandering is simply losing focus on a task at hand by thinking about something else. One of the most relatable mind-wandering situations occurs to people when they are driving and realize they have been focusing on something other than the road. “Not remembering” passing a street sign or traffic light often snaps people back into focus.

While mind-wandering is sometimes associated with mental problems such as depression, it also contributes to our creativity. Therefore, what people need is not to avoid mind-wandering, but to learn how to manage it.

Mind Wandering Neurofeedback Tests

Controlling mind-wandering requires a person to realize that it is occurring. Once people notice it, they can stop or to continue it. ATR recently developed the first method–a neurofeedback technique–to enhance awareness of mind-wandering.

ATR performed a double-blinded test with 36 participants and demonstrated that awareness of mind-wandering was significantly enhanced after 20 minutes of neurofeedback. Participants were assigned by computer to control and experimental groups and those assignments were withheld from experimenters.

During each neurofeedback training session, AI was used to identify the mind-wandering of participants performing a task that requires concentration.

In the control group, soft tones were presented at irregular intervals. In the experimental group, those tones were sounded when neurofeedback detected that a participant’s mind was wandering. Participants in both groups were told that tones were meaningless and were instructed to ignore them until debriefing at the end of the experiment.

Focus of Mind-Wandering Studies

Since people become aware that their minds are wandering at the time their attention is redirected back to the external environment, ATR hypothesized that this novel neurofeedback creates a state in which participants become cognizant of mind-wandering whenever it occurs.

This study had two unique features. First, participants in the experimental group did not know that they had received neurofeedback and they didn’t realize that their awareness of mind-wandering had been enhanced. Second, in conventional neurofeedback, participants obtain rewards when they control their brains well.

In contrast, ATR’s neurofeedback training employed no rewards or punishments. Instead, it was based on traditional (Pavlovian) conditioning.

This study did not reveal how long the effects of this neurofeedback persist. However, future studies will examine whether repeated neurofeedback endures in daily life, and research groups like ATR will also explore training techniques to improve mood and mental problems and enhance creativity.

Neurofeedback Training at NHA

Here at Neurohealth Associates, we specialize in Neurofeedback training. Neurofeedback may be helpful for training your mind, especially if you are unsure about putting yourself or your child on medication. 

This easy, noninvasive training can painlessly improve your mental health condition and outlook on life. Schedule a consultation with NeuroHealth Associates today and find out how we can help you.

Original article posted by Neuroscience News from data published by ATR Brain Information Communication Research Laboratory Group

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