Neurofeedback to Aid Vets’ Memory


Military deployment is associated with increased risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Combat stress related memory deficits has been well documented. Mild cognitive impairment such as memory deficits are the most common and earliest symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and related dementia (ADRD). The complaints about declined memory are common in healthy and cognitively intact civilian older adults, but less understood in aging Veterans. Brain training strategies to enhance cognitive skills and especially memory processes are unmet needs in aging Veterans who are at additional risk for MCI induced by ADRD. Since currently there is no effective drug treatment to stop cognitive decline, non-invasive brain training to boost memory functions in older Veterans is an increasingly attractive option to attenuating decline in memory.

Full Title of Study: “Tuning Up Memory-related Brain Potentials Using Real-time Neurofeedback in Older Veterans”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Non-Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Treatment
    • Masking: None (Open Label)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: September 30, 2021

Detailed Description

The proposed project is poised to investigate state-of-art neurofeedback (NF; biofeedback of brain activity) training for self-modulation of neural plasticity to boost memory performance in Veterans. The recent advance of NF with Brian-Computer Interface (BCI) has provided a novel way to examine brain functions and plasticity. Thus far, there have been limited applications that have developed effective experimental and clinical paradigms for rehabilitation in Veterans. Historically, brainwave patterns during memory task performance have been analysed offline, a methodology which does not allow real-time NF modulation and training. The central hypothesis guiding this research is that optimal memory-related brainwave patterns of a Veteran can be trained. The online NF allows maximization of brainwave patterns associated with healthier memory states.

The development of efficient NF paradigms to augment memory performance is an important first step for the application of this nonpharmacologic intervention to improve combat Veterans' memory functions and potential for treating MCI due to mild TBI or pain. The pilot work will start with wider range of Veterans using state-of-the-art wearable wireless brain-computer interface headset, which is affordable and can be easily set up in VAMCs and eventually in remote assessment settings. This innovative, cognitive neuroscience based, nonpharmacologic intervention serves to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of combat Veterans who are at risk for degenerative dementia.


  • Device: Neurofeedback
    • Neurofeedback will be tested in both groups of Vets

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Experimental: MCI patients
    • Vets with mild cognitive impairment
  • Active Comparator: NC
    • Normal healthy Veterans

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • EEG alpha band
    • Time Frame: 6-8 weeks
    • alpha power under eyes closed and eyes open are linked to better mental state; likely biomarker for mild cognitive impairment.

Secondary Measures

  • memory-related potentials
    • Time Frame: 6-8 weeks
    • Brainwaves that are linked to better memory performance
  • California Verbal Learning Test
    • Time Frame: About 6-8 weeks
    • A battery of neuropsychological testing cognitive functions

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • Veterans age 60 and older

Exclusion Criteria

  • Veterans diagnosed with PTSD, epilepsy schizophrenia, or use benzodiazapines

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 60 Years

Maximum Age: N/A

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • VA Office of Research and Development
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Sponsor
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Yang Jiang, PhD, Principal Investigator, Lexington VA Medical Center, Lexington, KY
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • Yang Jiang, PhD,

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