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Effect of beta and gamma neurofeedback on memory and intelligence in the elderly

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Aging; Beta neurofeedback; EEG; Gamma neurofeedback; Intelligence; Memory.


Recent research showed a correlation between cognitive decline and a decrease of EEG gamma activity. In the present double-blind randomized control study, we investigated whether gamma and beta neurofeedback protocols, that have been shown to modulate performance on cognitive control and memory in young adults, also leads to increased brain activity and cognitive performance in elderly. Twenty older adults either performed eight 30-min gamma neurofeedback session or beta neurofeedback session within a period of 21 days. Cognitive performance was determined before and after the training through an IQ and memory task and we added a subjective well-being questionnaire. Both neurofeedback training protocols resulted in a significant increase of the brain activity within each training session, suggesting that the aging brain is still trainable. However, we found no effects on cognitive performance or transfer of the feedback beyond the trainings. We discuss several possible reasons for the lack of training on rest measurements and cognition and ways to improve the feedback protocols for future studies.


Staufenbiel, S. M., Brouwer, A. M., Keizer, A. W., & van Wouwe, N. C. (2014). Effect of beta and gamma neurofeedback on memory and intelligence in the elderly. Biological psychology, 95, 74–85.





Conent Area

S M Staufenbiel

EWB-Related Construct

(2) life satisfaction
(4) quality of life

Study Design

Species or Study Population

(5) RCT

Sex (%Female)


Age (Mean, SD)

Gamma group: 69.2, 1.87
beta group: 66.4, 1.90

Younger Controls?


Longitudinal Data?


Sample Size



eight 30-min gamma neurofeedback session or beta neurofeedback session within a period of 21 days.

Ethnicity (%white)

not stated (Netherlands)

Inclusion Criteria

Inclusion criteria for the participants were normal or corrected-to-normal hearing functions and normal or corrected-to-normal vision

Exclusion Criteria

exclusion criteria were color blindness or one of the following conditions; neurological (stroke, seizure disorder, head injury resulting in unconsciousness, brain disease or tumor), cardiac (heart disease, heart attack, pacemaker, defibrillation, high blood pressure), pulmonary disease, diabetes, thyroid, alcoholism (current or past), drug use (current or past) and psychiatric (anxiety or depression) as well as any medication use that could influence cognitive performance and/or brain activity.

EWB Measures

The questionnaire contained five items reflecting the subjective experience of some aspects of daily living and was administered before every neurofeedback training session. ‘appetite’, ‘need for sleep’, ‘ability to concentrate’, ‘ability to retain information’, ‘mood’

Non-EWB Behavioral

fluid intelligence: Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM)
Memory task. Keizer, Verment, et al. (2010)

Physiological Measures


Brain IMaging Modality

Brain IMaging Paradigm


Brain Region/Circuit

EEG results:
(1) there was no effect of neurofeedback on gamma power in rest EEG measurements (pre and post training)
(2) participants in the gamma feedback group showed an increase in gamma power within training sessions (but not between sessions).
EEG & well-being measures:
(3) The mean percentage of change in beta power (from first to last training) on F4 showed a negative correlation with appetite: an increase in beta power resulted in a reduction in appetite, r = −0.45, p = 0.05.

Biological Measures

(7) EEG

Other Neural Measures

Data Availability?


Data Avalability Details


Diagnostic Measures

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