Having trouble paying attention? MIT neuroscientists may have a solution for you: Turn down your alpha brain waves.
In a new study, the researchers found that it’s possible to teach people, particularly those with learning disabilities, how to improve their focus through neurofeedback. Participants were given live neurofeedback that described their alpha waves as they took part in the experiment. They had to look at a grating pattern in the center of a monitor and were told to use mental effort to increase the pattern’s contrast, thereby making it more visible.
The study found that when subjects learned to suppress alpha waves in one hemisphere of their parietal cortex – the lobe responsible for touch, spatial sense, navigation, as well as attention – they were able to pay better attention to objects that appeared on the opposite side of their visual field.
This is the first time that this cause-and-effect relationship has been seen, and it suggests that it may be possible for people to learn to improve their attention through such noninvasive techniques. The researchers are now planning additional studies on whether this type of neurofeedback training might help people suffering from attentional or other neurological disorders.
Sound a bit confusing? Here you can take a deeper dive into what it means to hack your alpha brain waves.