טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentSegal Nir
SubjectConsolidation of motor memory in a motor task and
mathematical task,with theta neurofeedback
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Professor Miriam Reiner
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

Studies have shown that changes in speed performance of motor sequences reflects levels of memory consolidation. After the consolidation stage, the speed of motor performance is increased significantly. The aim of this study is to examine a method that will increase the speed of keyboard typing to examine changes of speed of solving square matrix multiplication task, following memory consolidation.


Motor memory is related to the Theta rhythm (4-8 Hz). The data received from sensors detectors arrive to the limbic system, then encoded and stored in the short-term memory. The data stays in the short-term memory between minutes to hours and is consolidated offline.

Consolidation of memory occurs during night sleep and day sleep, accompanied by Theta rhythm. Studies have shown that changes in intensity of Theta rhythm in the brain could stimulate the process of memory consolidation. In this study, we examined whether raising the Theta brain intensity causes consolidation of memory, thereby increasing the speed of new data manipulation.


We used two learning tasks: a keyboard-typing task and a multiplication matrix task in mathematics. We used a conditioning protocol of enhancing Theta and reducing Beta ( theta / -beta), by providing positive feedback each time the amplitude of theta/beta is enhanced beyond the baseline. Strengthening the Theta brain rhythms (4-8 Hz) with Neurofeedback is a repetitively used method, by which learners control their own brainwaves by responding to feedback. We used visual, and auditory (music) feedback.


The study involved 37 students ages 25-35 who were divided into three groups. The experimental (Theta group), that strengthened Theta brain waves and reduced Beta.

The Beta control group brain waves, which strengthened Beta and reduced Theta and the control group that did not perform any neurofeedback.  Participants in all groups carry out two tasks, keyboard typing, and multiplying square matrices. A preliminary was test performed before learning and training, the second test after learning and training and third test after neurofeedback. Control group only waited about half an hour in the neurofeedback time. Participants returned to second session after 24 hours (one night sleep) and third session after 48 hours (two nights sleep).


The findings showed that neurofeedback improved the speed of both the motor sequence and mathematical task. Hence, neurofeedback, in this specific context and under the given conditions, indeed was an effective tool for memory consolidation.

Participants who were able to increase theta with neurofeedback also increased the speed of performance of the two tasks (keyboard typing and multiplying matrices), significantly. The effect of neurofeedback continued even after 24 hours and 48 hours. We found positive correlations between the variables described in the following: change in typing speed and changes in theta; between the increased number of correct sequences and the changes in theta; and between increased accuracy and changes in theta. These results suggest that enhanced theta might affect memory consolidation of both motor sequences and matrix multiplication. It is worthwhile to note that not all participants were able to go through neurofeedback protocols.