Frontal-midline Theta Neurofeedback Training Increases Flow Experience
Kathrin C. J. Eschmann1, Lisa Riedel1, Axel Mecklinger1; 1Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany
Flow is defined as a cognitive state that is associated with a feeling of automatic and effortless control, enabling peak performance in highly challenging situations. In sports flow can be enhanced by mindfulness training, which has been associated with frontal theta activity (4-8 Hz). Moreover, frontal-midline theta oscillations were shown to subserve control processes in a large variety of cognitive tasks. Previous theta neurofeedback training studies revealed that one 30-minute training session is sufficient to enhance performance in a finger tapping task (FTT). Consequently, the present study aimed at investigating whether one session of frontal-midline theta neurofeedback training (1) enhances both performance and flow experience during a FTT and (2) transfers to a cognitive control task. Forty-nine participants trained to enhance frontal-midline theta oscillations. Additionally, they performed one pre-training and two post-training sessions, directly and one day after the neurofeedback session, each consisting of a FTT, a flow questionnaire and an n-back task. Participants were able to enhance their theta activity throughout the 30-minute neurofeedback session. Furthermore, the increase in theta power predicted FTT performance increase from pre-training to the first post-training session, irrespective of pre-training performance. Interestingly, training gains in theta power also predicted the increase of flow experience, even when corresponding increases in FFT performance were controlled for. Results for the n-back task were not significant. The present study is among the first to show that frontal-midline theta neurofeedback training is a promising tool to increase flow experience with potential relevance for performance enhancement.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Other