Motivation, Novelty, and Effective Neurofeedback
In neurofeedback and biofeedback, it is always a challenge to keep the client engaged. You need to have their interest and attention for the training to work, but what are the scientific reasons to choose one type of feedback or the other. Bar graphs, games, videos, and other displays are all “out there” to choose from. The choice can be based on experience and fact.
The keys to effective operant training such as in biofeedback and neurofeedback are these three: It must be “fast, correct, and interesting” according to experts. Another research put it “rapid, accurate, and aesthetic,” Of these, “fast and correct” or “rapid and accurate” are technical goals that can be met with good equipment and software. However, what is “interesting” or “aesthetic” to the client, what does that mean? The feedback needs to be engaging, but should not be over stimulating or unnecessarily elaborate. In one recent study, researchers and clinicians in Spain and Romania set out to discover whether neurofeedback using movies and a “dimmer” gave better results than a preselected game. Their results showed the following important points: If the trainee can select a video that is controlled by the feedback, and finds the video interesting, then a statistically signicant rise in SMR could be achieved in one session. With a simple game, there was a small but not significant change in SMR in one session. This study also showed that autothresholding could be used effectively, in a controlled setting. These are important findings, because many practitioners opt for videos and multimedia “dimmer” feedback, and feel that they are superior, and there are always questions about authothresholding. This study shows that, in fact, across a multicenter study, a more engaging feedback does increase motivation and the difference shows up in the EEG itself.
Here is their summary of their work, and a link to the article online
Enhancing the Effects of Neurofeedback Training: The Motivational Value of the Reinforcers
R. Perez-Elvira et. al. Brain Sciences 2021, 11, 457
The brain activity that is measured by electroencephalography (EEG) can be modified through operant conditioning, specifically using neurofeedback (NF). NF has been applied to several disorders claiming that a change in the erratic brain activity would be accompanied by a reduction of the symptoms. However, the expected results are not always achieved. Some authors have suggested that the lack of an adequate response may be due to an incorrect application of the operant conditioning principles. A key factor in operant conditioning is the use of reinforcers and their value in modifying behavior, something that is not always sufficiently taken into account. This work aims to clarify the relevance of the motivational value versus the purely informational value of the reinforcer. In this study, 113 subjects were randomly assigned two different reinforcer conditions: a selected reinforcer—the subjects subjectively selected the reinforcers—or an imposed reinforcer—the reinforcers were assigned by the experimenter—and both groups undertook NF sessions to enhance the sensorimotor rhythm (SMR). In addition, the selected reinforcer group was divided into two subgroups: one receiving real NF and the other one sham NF. There were no significant differences between the groups at baseline in terms of SMR amplitude. After the intervention, only those subjects belonging to the selected reinforcer group and receiving real NF increased their SMR. Our results provide evidence for the importance of the motivational value of the reinforcer in Neurofeedback success.