Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 37–47 | Cite as

No Effects of Successful Bidirectional SMR Feedback Training on Objective and Subjective Sleep in Healthy Subjects

  • Olaf Binsch
  • Ellen S. Wilschut
  • Martijn Arns
  • Charelle Bottenheft
  • Pierre J. L. Valk
  • Eric H. G. J. M. Vermetten


There is a growing interest in the application of psychophysiological signals in more applied settings. Unidirectional sensory motor rhythm-training (SMR) has demonstrated consistent effects on sleep. In this study the main aim was to analyze to what extent participants could gain voluntary control over sleep-related parameters and secondarily to assess possible influences of this training on sleep metrics. Bidirectional training of SMR as well as heart rate variability (HRV) was used to assess the feasibility of training these parameters as possible brain computer interfaces (BCI) signals, and assess effects normally associated with unidirectional SMR training such as the influence on objective and subjective sleep parameters. Participants (n = 26) received between 11 and 21 training sessions during 7 weeks in which they received feedback on their personalized threshold for either SMR or HRV activity, for both up- and down regulation. During a pre- and post-test a sleep log was kept and participants used a wrist actigraph. Participants were asked to take an afternoon nap on the first day at the testing facility. During napping, sleep spindles were assessed as well as self-reported sleep measures of the nap. Although the training demonstrated successful learning to increase and decrease SMR and HRV activity, no effects were found of bidirectional training on sleep spindles, actigraphy, sleep diaries, and self-reported sleep quality. As such it is concluded that bidirectional SMR and HRV training can be safely used as a BCI and participants were able to improve their control over physiological signals with bidirectional training, whereas the application of bidirectional SMR and HRV training did not lead to significant changes of sleep quality in this healthy population.


Sleep Military BCI Biofeedback Neurofeedback Training Heart rate variability 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olaf Binsch
    • 1
  • Ellen S. Wilschut
    • 1
  • Martijn Arns
    • 2
    • 5
  • Charelle Bottenheft
    • 1
  • Pierre J. L. Valk
    • 1
  • Eric H. G. J. M. Vermetten
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO)SoesterbergThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Research Institute BrainclinicsNijmegenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Ministry of DefenseCentral Military HospitalUtrechtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.University of LeidenLeidenThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of Experimental PsychologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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