The Effect of Passive-Infrared Hemoencephalography (pIR HEG) on Athlete’s Performance

  • Laura Barry Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, Iowa
  • Gregory L. Nooney Narrative Space LLC
Keywords: Neurofeedback, sports enhancement, Hemoencephalography


This single case study explores the effects of a specific form of biofeedback on sports enhancement.  Three college athletes from three different sports (baseball, volleyball, and basketball) were each subjected to five weekly sessions of passive infrared hemoencephalography (pIR HEG) from a licensed psychotherapist who had been trained in this form of biofeedback.  Sports data were collected prior to the session, during the sessions, and after the sessions.  In addition, card sorting and thermal imaging were done by the therapist during each of the five brain-training sessions.  The results were mixed.  The baseball and volleyball players demonstrated modest gains in their specific sports measures and in the card-sorting process, whereas the basketball player’s measures were flat.  The thermal imaging was also inconclusive.  However, two out of three subjects reported subjective improvements in focus and concentration on the field and in their daily lives.  In addition, two of the subjects reported improvements in their rate and intensity of headaches, which was not a specific goal of the treatment, but one which is routinely seen from pIR HEG treatment.  There are significant limitations to this study that make it impossible to generalize.  Further studies with longer treatment times and larger numbers of subjects are recommended.

Author Biographies

Laura Barry, Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, Iowa
Psychology Department, Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, Iowa
Gregory L. Nooney, Narrative Space LLC
Licensed Clinical Social Worker


Arns, M., Kleinnijenhuis, M., Fallahpour, K., & Breteler, R. (2008). Golf performance enhancement and real-life neurofeedback training using personalized event-locked EEG profiles. Journal of Neurotherapy, 11(4), 11–18.

Carmen, J. A. (2004). Passive infrared hemoencephalography: Four years and 100 migraines. Journal of Neurotherapy, 8(3), 23–51.

Hammond, D. C. (2007). Neurofeedback for the enhancement of athletic performance and physical balance. The Journal of the American Board of Sports Psychology, 1-2007, 1–9.

Keightley, M. L., Saluja, S. R., Chen, J.-K., Gagnon, I., Leonard, G., Petrides, M., & Ptito, A. (2014). A functional magnetic resonance imaging study of working memory in youth after sports-related concussion: Is it still working? Journal of Neurotrauma, 31(5), 437–451.

McKinley, M. P., O’Loughlin, V. D., Pennefather-O’Brien, E. E., & Harris, R. T. (2015). Human anatomy (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education International.

Ross, J. (2015, June 4). “5 ways neurofeedback improves sports performance.” Advanced Neurotherapy. Retrieved from

Siever, D. (2008). History of biofeedback and neurofeedback. Biofeedback, 36(2), 74-81.

Stokes, D. A., & Lappin, M. S. (2010). Neurofeedback and biofeedback with 37 migraineurs: A clinical outcome study. Behavioral and Brain Functions, 6(9), 1–10.

Thompson, T., Steffert, T., Ros. T., Leach, J., & Gruzelier, J. (2008). EEG applications for sport and performance. Methods, 45(4), 279–288

Toomim, H., Mize, W., Kwong, P. C., Toomim, M., Marsh, R., Kozlowski, G. P., … Rémond, A. (2004). Intentional increase of cerebral blood oxygenation using hemoencephalography (HEG): An efficient brain exercise therapy. Journal of Neurotherapy: Investigations in Neuromodulation, Neurofeedback and Applied Neuroscience, 8(3), 5–21.

Vernon, D. J. (2005). Can neurofeedback training enhance performance? An evaluation of the evidence with implications for future research. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 30, 347–364.

Walker, A. K., & Lyle, R. R. (2016). Passive infrared hemoencephalography (pIR HEG) for the treatment of migraine without aura. NeuroRegulation, 3(2), 78–91.

Wang, H., Wang, B., Normoyle, K. P., Jackson, K., Spitler, K., Sharrock, M. F., … Du, R. (2014). Brain temperature and its fundamental properties: A review for clinical neuroscientists. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 8, 307.

Research Papers