How do Alpha Oscillations Shape the Perception of Pain? - An EEG-based Neurofeedback Study

  • End date
    Dec 27, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Technical University of Munich
Updated on 27 October 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


Pain is closely linked to alpha oscillations (8 -13 Hz) which are thought to represent a supra-modal, top-down mediated gating mechanism that shapes sensory processing. Consequently, alpha oscillations might also shape the cerebral processing of nociceptive input and eventually the perception of pain. To test this mechanistic hypothesis, the investigators designed a sham-controlled and double-blind electroencephalography (EEG)-based neurofeedback study. In a short-term neurofeedback training protocol, healthy participants will learn to up- and downregulate somatosensory alpha oscillations using attention. Subsequently, the investigators will investigate how this manipulation impacts experimental pain applied during neurofeedback. Using Bayesian statistics and mediation analysis, the investigators will test whether alpha oscillations mediate attention effects on pain perception. This approach promises causal insights into the role of alpha oscillations in shaping pain, and thereby extends previous correlative evidence. Beyond, it can aid the development of novel, non-invasive modulatory treatment approaches for chronic pain, which are urgently needed.

The prosed study protocol has been granted in-principle acceptance from PLOS Biology and the corresponding registration can be found at the OSF online repository [].

Condition Experimental Pain in Healthy Human Subjects
Treatment attention right training, ARTNF, attention left training, ALTNF, sham attention right training, ARTsham, sham attention left training, ALTsham
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05570695
SponsorTechnical University of Munich
Last Modified on27 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

aged 18-45 years
right-handedness (laterality quotient > 60 on the Edinburgh handedness inventory)
good command of German
written informed consent
attendance at both sessions and compliance with instructions throughout the experiment

Exclusion Criteria

neurological or psychiatric diseases (e.g., epilepsy, stroke, depression, anxiety disorders)
severe general illnesses (e.g., tumors, diabetes)
skin diseases (e.g., dermatitis, psoriasis or eczema)
current or recurrent pain
regular intake of medication (aside from contraception, thyroidal, and antiallergic medication)
surgical procedures involving the head or spinal cord
side-effects following previous thermal stimulation
contact to a person with a SARS-CoV-2 infection within the last 2 weeks
current symptoms of a cold or flu
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