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#37 The History of Neurofeedback

Posted by NFB Forum on 27 August 2014 - 09:21 PM

The history of Neurofeedback


There have been many pioneers in the field of neurofeedback dating back to 1875 when Richard Caton discovered electrical activity in animal brains.

  • Hans Berger was the first to record EEG on paper and discovered Alpha and Beta waves.
  • Edgar Adrian & Brian Mathews reproduced the findings of Berger and in turn brought the field into scientific literature.
  • Joe Kamiya with his graduate student Bach showed that voluntary control over EEG was possible.
  • Barry Sterman found that cats could be trained with operant conditioning to produce a specific brainwave.

Richard Caton is recognized as the first person to record the electrical activity of the brain.


The recording and training of the electrical activity in the brain has well over 100 years of history.  To see where it all began we have to travel back to the year 1875 when a 33 year old scientist by the name of Richard Caton reported to the British Medical Association that he had discovered electrical activity in the brains of animals (mainly rabbits).  Caton was a physiologist from the Royal Infirmary School of Medicine in Liverpool, England. Caton used a Thomson reflecting  galvanometer with non-polarisable clay electrodes attached to the surfaces of the exposed brains of the animals to measure the electrical activity . In his research, Caton noticed among other things that the electrical activity was reduced during sleep or anesthesia and abolished through death.  He also stated that there was an undoubted relationship between electrical activity in the brain and function.


The next few years seen the research into electrical activity in the brain of animals continue.  Russian V.Y. Danilevsky's thesis in 1877, although he gave all credit for that to Caton,  a report by Ernst Fleischl von Marxow to the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna in 1883 and Poland's Adolph Beck's doctoral thesis in 1890 all added to the building research and alerted more researchers to the trend.


A Physiologist from Russia by the name of Pravdich-Neminski was the first person to illustrate a photographic record of the electrical activity in the brain in 1912, calling it an "electrocerebrogram". His electrocerebrogram was made using dogs with their skulls intact by means of William Einthoven's string galvanometerwhich actually won Einthoven the Nobel Prize several years later.


The Birth of Electroencephalography (EEG)


Moving forward to 1924, Hans Berger, a neurologist from Jena, Germany became the first person to record the electrical activity from electrodes placed on the human scalp.  Berger wanted to know if he could measure objectively brain function and the mind.


At the beginning of his experimenting with electrical recordings, he was able to successfully record a synchronous frequency in the 10 Hz range, which he called the Alpha rhythm (later called the "Berger Rhythm" by English physiologists Edgar Adrian and Brian Mathews).  Berger observed that this Alpha rhythm was most prominent when individuals in a waken state sat with their eyes closed.  He found that the Alpha would attenuate if the eyes were opened or if the individual was asked to perform a mental task. Berger also noticed when these Alpha waves were absent, that a desynchronized smaller brainwave was present, this pattern he called "Beta".


Berger published his first research paper in 1929 titled, "Electroenkephalogram des Menschen".  The English translation of the Berger's word Electroenkephalogram became Electroencephalogram (EEG)and is the name he gave the device that he recorded the electrical activity on, an invention described as "one of the most surprising, remarkable, and momentous developments in the history of clinical neurology".  For a variety of reasons it took till 1935 for Berger's work to be approved.  Berger's work had sparked an interest and individuals all round the world were taking on EEG research. Listed below are some of the key names in the history of EEG and neurofeedback;

  • Edgar Douglas Adrian "Lord Adrian", an English electrophysiologist looked to emulate Berger's work using the EEG to study the electrical activity of the brain in humans.  Along with fellow Englishman Brian Mathews, they were able to confirm Berger's findings. This was a significant step as it propelled the EEG into the scientific literature.
  • Herbert H. Jasper -Was the first American to confirm Berger's findings and in 1933 received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to set up a Clinical and Experimental EEG lab in America. It was to be at the Bradley Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island.  Jasper later went on to establish an EEG lab  in Montreal at the request of neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield  after successfully aiding Penfield in his surgeries by localizing the seizure activity based on EEG.  In 1958 Jasper lead a committee to standardize the 10/20 system of placing electrodes on the scalp which is still used today.
  • Joseph Kamiya - In 1958 Kamiya, who taught at the University of Chicago, became the first person to demonstrate that an individual could correctly determine what brainwaves they were producing. The story goes that Kamiya, working with his graduate student Bach, had him predict when he was producing a certain brain wave. Kamiya chose to study the Alpha brain wave (8 – 12 Hz) and placed an electrode in the Bach's left occipital lobe. The experiment had two parts; In the first part with his eyes closed Bach was asked whether he was in an Alpha state. Each trial consisted of 60 tones with 60 guesses in a 30 minute session.  On the first day he guessed with about 50% accuracy.  The second day he guessed with 65% accuracy and on the third day he guessed with 85% accuracy.  Finally on the fourth day he was almost entirely correct. In the second part of the experiment Kamiya asked the student to go into an alpha state when the bell was rung once and to not go into the alpha state when the bell rang twice.  Bach was very masterful at being able to get into alpha state at will. Kamiya went on to record that he found that some of his subjects had great control over their brainwaves while others did not have as much control.  Most importantly though Kamiya had demonstrated the an individual could have control over their brainwaves.

The Birth of Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback)


To see where Neurofeedback began we move forward into 1965. A sleep researcher by the name of Barry Sterman from the University of California, Los Angeles, was working on an operant conditioning experiment with cats connected up to EEG so he could monitor their brain activity. The experiment went something like this;


Sterman placed 30 cats wired up to EEG in cages and deprived them of food as to make them hungry. One by one the the cats were moved out of their cages and in a chamber. Inside the chamber there was a lever and each time the cat pressed the lever they were instantly rewarded as their bowl would fill with a mixture of milk and chicken broth (a cats favorite food seemingly). The cats became conditioned to this very quickly and whenever they wanted food (which is all the time), they pressed the lever and hey presto! the bowl is filled back up. Sterman decided to shake things up and introduced an extra element to the experiment, a tone. Whenever the tone was playing the bowl would not fill up, regardless whether or not the cat pressed the lever. The cats soon worked it out though and sat patiently waiting for the tone to stop before pressing the lever and getting their reward.


Now here is where the interesting part came in. It was during this waiting state that Sterman noticed something unusual in the cats EEG, he noticed that while the cats were sitting there in their absolutely still but extremely alert state waiting for the tone to stop, they entered a unique state of consciousness.  This state of consciousness had an EEG “spindle” that was very rhythmic in the 12 – 16 Hz range and it was overlying the sensorimotor cortex.  Sterman called this activity SMR for sensorimotor rhythm.


In the third part of the experiment Sterman wanted to see if a cat could be conditioned to produce this SMR brain wave activity on demand.  This time Sterman rewarded the cats for producing a half second of SMR freqency, and low and behold over time the cats learned to produce this frequency at will. But what good was this? In a nice twist of fate, what happened next put a whole new dimension on the importance of the cats being able to change their brain waves.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contacted Sterman to ask if he could research a problem with their astronauts. The astronauts were experiencing symptoms such as headaches, nausea, hyperventilation, hallucinations, and seizures when they were exposed to monomethylhydrazine (MMH), a type of rocket fuel. Sterman used a selection of cats from from his lab to evaluate their brain activity when exposed to the fuel. He would inject them with MMH and then monitor the EEG. Within an hour of injection most of the cats went into grand mal epileptic seizures. Amazingly,  the  cats that were trained to producethe SMR in the previous study either showed a significant delay in the occurrence of seizures or, in several instances, showed no seizures at all.


Naturally Sterman was intrigued by the seizure resistance of his cats and began to experiment with humans suffering from epilepsy . In 1971 Sterman indeed confirmed that increasing SMR activity over the motor strip can reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of seizures in humans with epilepsy. Sterman had set the way for the field of neurofeedback!


For a really thorough history of neurofeedback read Thomas F. Collura's article on the History and Evolution of Electroencephalographic Instruments and Techniques.

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#148 Experience with HPN Neurologic?

Posted by Blueviolets on 16 February 2016 - 09:42 PM

Yes, HPN Neurologic is a microcurrent neurofeedback system which has shown to be very effective, possibly the most effective type of NF available today. HPN stands for "high performance neurofeedback." It was developed by Corey Snook. It's been used for at least the past 3-4 years and it's a next generation from LENS, though different from it. It's gentler still. After treating hundreds of people, for over 50 illnesses, evidence points to microcurrent NF systems, like IASIS an NeuroGen HPN and HPN Neurologics as abatement or lessening of symptoms occurring in significantly fewer sessions. Happy to discuss it further.

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#100 You can’t detox your body. It’s a myth!

Posted by BettyBoo on 05 December 2014 - 11:04 AM

Whether it’s cucumbers splashing into water or models sitting smugly next to a pile of vegetables, it’s tough not to be sucked in by the detox industry. The idea that you can wash away your calorific sins is the perfect antidote to our fast-food lifestyles and alcohol-lubricated social lives. But before you dust off that juicer or take the first tentative steps towards a colonic irrigation clinic, there’s something you should know: detoxing – the idea that you can flush your system of impurities and leave your organs squeaky clean and raring to go – is a scam. It’s a pseudo-medical concept designed to sell you things.


“Let’s be clear,” says Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University, “there are two types of detox: one is respectable and the other isn’t.” The respectable one, he says, is the medical treatment of people with life-threatening drug addictions. “The other is the word being hijacked by entrepreneurs, quacks and charlatans to sell a bogus treatment that allegedly detoxifies your body of toxins you’re supposed to have accumulated.”


If toxins did build up in a way your body couldn’t excrete, he says, you’d likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention. “The healthy body has kidneys, a liver, skin, even lungs that are detoxifying as we speak,” he says. “There is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better.”


Much of the sales patter revolves around “toxins”: poisonous substances that you ingest or inhale. But it’s not clear exactly what these toxins are. If they were named they could be measured before and after treatment to test effectiveness. Yet, much like floaters in your eye, try to focus on these toxins and they scamper from view. In 2009, a network of scientists assembled by the UK charity Sense about Science contacted the manufacturers of 15 products sold in pharmacies and supermarkets that claimed to detoxify. The products ranged from dietary supplements to smoothies and shampoos. When the scientists asked for evidence behind the claims, not one of the manufacturers could define what they meant by detoxification, let alone name the toxins.


Yet, inexplicably, the shelves of health food stores are still packed with products bearing the word “detox” – it’s the marketing equivalent of drawing go-faster stripes on your car. You can buy detoxifying tablets, tinctures, tea bags, face masks, bath salts, hair brushes, shampoos, body gels and even hair straighteners. Yoga, luxury retreats, and massages will also all erroneously promise to detoxify. You can go on a seven-day detox diet and you’ll probably lose weight, but that’s nothing to do with toxins, it’s because you would have starved yourself for a week.


Then there’s colonic irrigation. Its proponents will tell you that mischievous plaques of impacted poo can lurk in your colon for months or years and pump disease-causing toxins back into your system. Pay them a small fee, though, and they’ll insert a hose up your bottom and wash them all away. Unfortunately for them – and possibly fortunately for you – no doctor has ever seen one of these mythical plaques, and many warn against having the procedure done, saying that it can perforate your bowel.


Other tactics are more insidious. Some colon-cleansing tablets contain a polymerising agent that turns your faeces into something like a plastic, so that when a massive rubbery poo snake slithers into your toilet you can stare back at it and feel vindicated in your purchase. Detoxing foot pads turn brown overnight with what manufacturers claim is toxic sludge drawn from your body. This sludge is nothing of the sort – a substance in the pads turns brown when it mixes with water from your sweat.


“It’s a scandal,” fumes Ernst. “It’s criminal exploitation of the gullible man on the street and it sort of keys into something that we all would love to have – a simple remedy that frees us of our sins, so to speak. It’s nice to think that it could exist but unfortunately it doesn’t.”


That the concept of detoxification is so nebulous might be why it has evaded public suspicion. When most of us utter the word detox, it’s usually when we’re bleary eyed and stumbling out of the wrong end of a heavy weekend. In this case, surely, a detox from alcohol is a good thing? “It’s definitely good to have non-alcohol days as part of your lifestyle,” says Catherine Collins, an NHS dietitian at St George’s Hospital. “It’ll probably give you a chance to reassess your drinking habits if you’re drinking too much. But the idea that your liver somehow needs to be ‘cleansed’ is ridiculous.”


The liver breaks down alcohol in a two-step process. Enzymes in the liver first convert alcohol to acetaldehyde, a very toxic substance that damages liver cells. It is then almost immediately converted into carbon dioxide and water which the body gets rid of. Drinking too much can overwhelm these enzymes and the acetaldehyde buildup will lead to liver damage. Moderate and occasional drinking, though, might have a protective effect. Population studies, says Collins, have shown that teetotallers and those who drink alcohol excessively have a shorter life expectancy than people who drink moderately and in small amounts.


“We know that a little bit of alcohol seems to be helpful,” she says. “Maybe because its sedative effect relaxes you slightly or because it keeps the liver primed with these detoxifying enzymes to help deal with other toxins you’ve consumed. That’s why the government guidelines don’t say, ‘Don’t drink’; they say, ‘OK drink, but only modestly.’ It’s like a little of what doesn’t kill you cures you.”


This adage also applies in an unexpected place – to broccoli, the luvvie of the high-street “superfood” detox salad. Broccoli does help the liver out but, unlike the broad-shouldered, cape-wearing image that its superfood moniker suggests, it is no hero. Broccoli, as with all brassicas – sprouts, mustard plants, cabbages – contains cyanide. Eating it provides a tiny bit of poison that, like alcohol, primes the enzymes in your liver to deal better with any other poisons.


Collins guffaws at the notion of superfoods. “Most people think that you should restrict or pay particular attention to certain food groups, but this is totally not the case,” she says. “The ultimate lifestyle ‘detox’ is not smoking, exercising and enjoying a healthy balanced diet like the Mediterranean diet.”


Close your eyes, if you will, and imagine a Mediterranean diet. A red chequered table cloth adorned with meats, fish, olive oil, cheeses, salads, wholegrain cereals, nuts and fruits. All these foods give the protein, amino acids, unsaturated fats, fibre, starches, vitamins and minerals to keep the body – and your immune system, the biggest protector from ill-health – functioning perfectly.


So why, then, with such a feast available on doctor’s orders, do we feel the need to punish ourselves to be healthy? Are we hard-wired to want to detox, given that many of the oldest religions practise fasting and purification? Has the scientific awakening shunted bad spirits to the periphery and replaced them with environmental toxins that we think we have to purge ourselves of?


Susan Marchant-Haycox, a London psychologist, doesn’t think so. “Trying to tie detoxing in with ancient religious practices is clutching at straws,” she says. “You need to look at our social makeup over the very recent past. In the 70s, you had all these gyms popping up, and from there we’ve had the proliferation of the beauty and diet industry with people becoming more aware of certain food groups and so on.


“The detox industry is just a follow-on from that. There’s a lot of money in it and there are lots of people out there in marketing making a lot of money.”


Peter Ayton, a professor of psychology at City University London, agrees. He says that we’re susceptible to such gimmicks because we live in a world with so much information we’re happy to defer responsibility to others who might understand things better. “To understand even shampoo you need to have PhD in biochemistry,” he says, “but a lot of people don’t have that. If it seems reasonable and plausible and invokes a familiar concept, like detoxing, then we’re happy to go with it.”


Many of our consumer decisions, he adds, are made in ignorance and supposition, which is rarely challenged or informed. “People assume that the world is carefully regulated and that there are benign institutions guarding them from making any kind of errors. A lot of marketing drip-feeds that idea, surreptitiously. So if people see somebody with apparently the right credentials, they think they’re listening to a respectable medic and trust their advice.”


Ernst is less forgiving: “Ask trading standards what they’re doing about it. Anyone who says, ‘I have a detox treatment’ is profiting from a false claim and is by definition a crook. And it shouldn’t be left to scientists and charities to go after crooks.”


Article copied from: http://www.theguardi...ience-ignorance

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