Boris Kleber, Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, Tübingen
Biofeedback is a method through which people are trained to improve their health or performance by using physiological signals from their own body, such as muscle tension or blood pressure or as well the electric activity of the brain, the electroencephalogram (EEG). The use of EEG-biofeedback (also termed neurofeedback) as an operant conditioning paradigm has shown that participants are able to gain some control over particular aspects of their EEG. Based on the association of such aspects of the EEG and cognitive performance, neurofeedback has shown to be uniquely effective in enhancing musical performance under stressful conditions in a group of music conservatory students at the Royal College of Music (Egner & Gruzelier, 2003). In a current project in Stuttgart (Germany), the effect of neurofeedback on vocal performance, performance anxiety and neuroplasticity (i.e. the brain's ability to reorganize) is further investigated in a population of classical singers (professionals and students). Outcome measures include pre/post evaluation of musical performance quality by a panel of vocal experts, psychometric and peripheral physiological data as well as brain responses related to the degree of professionalism and success in neurofeedback training. The possibility of detecting pre/post differences in acoustic properties of the voices related to neurofeedback shall be discussed, and compared to other strategies such as Alexander technique or mental skills training.