This experiment examined whether electroencephalographic (EEG)-based neurofeedback could be used to train recreational golfers to regulate their brain activity, expedite skill acquisition, and promote robust performance under pressure.
We adopted a mixed-multifactorial design, with group (neurofeedback, control) as a between-subjects factor, and pressure (low, high), session (pre-test, acquisition 1, acquisition 2, acquisition 3, post-test), block (putts within each training session), and epoch (cortical activity in the seconds around movement initiation) as within-subject factors.
Recreational golfers received three hours of either true (to reduce frontal EEG high-alpha power, N = 12) or false (control, N = 12) neurofeedback training sandwiched between pre-test and post-test sessions during which we collected measures of cortical activity (EEG) and putting performance under both low and high pressure conditions.
Individuals in the neurofeedback group learned to reduce their frontal high-alpha power before striking putts. Despite causing this more “expert-like” pattern of cortical activity, neurofeedback training failed to selectively enhance performance, as both groups improved their putting performance similarly from the pre-test to the post-test. Finally, both groups performed robustly under pressure.
Performers can learn to regulate their brain activity using neurofeedback training. However, research identifying the cortical correlates of expertise is required to refine neurofeedback interventions if this training method is to expedite learning. Suggestions for future neurofeedback interventions are discussed.