טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentAbu Salman Issam
SubjectCognitive Performance after Neurofeedback training of
Upper alpha: Changes in Mental Rotation Abilities
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Professor Miriam Reiner
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

One of the essential cognitive abilities in science and technology learning, is associated with imagery, especially manipulation of mental images.  This operation is known as mental rotation and it has been studied extensively over the years. The present study deals with electrical activity in the brain associated with mental rotation. We look for a method to improve performance of rotating bodies in imagination. Mental rotation is associated with success in learning topics such as geometry, mathematics, chemistry and physics.

The goal of this study is to find a method to improve the cognitive ability of mental rotation. Literature indicates that brain waves in the frequency range of 10-12 Hz- Upper Alpha - are associated with mental rotation ability. It has been shown that mental rotation can be taught through practice and enhanced with rapid-rate repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. This study will examine the feasibility to enhance mental rotation by  changing the electrical activity of the brain, and more specifically, by raising the upper  alpha band relative to the entering state.  

The power of EEG alpha frequency band is positively related to cognitive performance. Especially, Upper Alpha (UA) power is correlated with mental rotation. Our contribution to theory is whether the Upper Alpha is correlated with the rotational speed, which has not yet been studied in previous studies, that examined only the relationship between Upper  Alpha and accuracy in mental rotation. Another innovation is the use of three-dimensional objects, in contrast to previous studies that used two-dimensional shapes such as alphanumeric characters and simple three-dimensional shapes such as a cube.

In the present study we used neurofeedback as a method to train the subject to increase the power of upper alpha by changing the brain's electrical activity  and providing the appropriate feedback. .

The study involved 44 students who were divided into two groups, the experimental group and a control group. In the first stage both groups completed a mental rotation test, in order to assess individual baseline of cognitive performance of mental rotation. In the second stage only the experimental group went through a series of neurofeedback training in order to increase the intensity of upper alpha. In the third stage, both groups took a mental rotation test to assess changes/improvement in cognitive abilities of mental rotation in terms of rotation speed and accuracy.

The results indicated that the power of the UA is positively correlated with the progression of training and it is evident that subjects could learn to increase their alpha activity by NFT, and hence neurofeedback is an effective strategy to control the brain waves.

In addition, findings show that subjects who underwent neurofeedback training and learned to increase the power of UA, performed the task of mental rotation faster than the subjects who did not undergo training and the performance of the experimental group was more accurate than the control group, but the difference in accuracy between the two groups was not significant .