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Archive for the ‘Scientific’ Category

Neurofeedback: The First Brain-Computer Interface

Monday, March 9th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

Neurofeedback: The First Brain-Computer InterfaceBrain Computer Interfaces (BCI) are a relatively new fascination in the neurosciences, and the payoff in research has already been significant. By tracking the activity of a small number of neurons in the motor cortex, for example, the actual movement of an arm to direct the cursor on a screen can be fairly emulated by a robot arm that receives its instructions from the tracking electronics. Scientists had to make the ‘translation’ from the neural firing streams into instructions for movement, and they were able to do so successfully based on the prior observations. This is the work of Miguel Nicolelis and his team.

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Virtual Reality

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

Virtual Reality
Developments in the virtual reality sphere were another highlight of the latest Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Matters were raised to a higher level of visibility even before the conference, when Facebook pumped $2B into Oculus. A billion here, a billion there; pretty soon you are talking about real money. As it happens, we took a look at an Oculus system a while back to evaluate its suitability for neurofeedback. It wasn’t long before each of us felt just a little woozy from the experience, and opted for going back to maneuver in the real rather than the virtual world.

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Report on the Annual Conference of the Biofeedback Society of California

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

BSC Conference 2014
T he 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Biofeedback Society of California was an upbeat and rollicking affair. It got underway with a look back at the work of the Menninger group and the Life Sciences Institute by Patricia Norris. Ostensibly the key research objective there had been to study the dimensions of human consciousness, but in fact there was considerable engagement with the use of biofeedback for therapeutic purposes as well. The work with prisoners extended over nine years, and it reached a number of prisons. Support for this work was withdrawn at a time when the State of Kansas was facing a budgetary crisis that caused the cancellation of nearly all rehabilitation programs in the prisons, with the exception of some attention to violent sexual offenders.

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Remediation of PTSD using Infra-Low Frequency Neurofeedback Training

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

EEG Info NewsletterThe careers of the scientist/practitioners in the field have undoubtedly had in common the experience of gradually rising expectations about what is possible to achieve in terms of improved self-regulatory capacity and mental functioning with the aid of neurofeedback. One might have expected some plateauing after a while, a firming up of one’s expectations, but the surprises keep coming and they are consistently on the upside. In our own experience, one of the biggest surprises has been the growing effectiveness of neurofeedback with PTSD, along with the related conditions of developmental trauma and the autism spectrum. All of these conditions had seemed so utterly intractable in the past.

In this newsletter, the focus on PTSD exists not only for its own sake, but also to serve as the best vehicle for the tackling of larger themes. What sets PTSD apart from our clinical work in general is the concentrated effort that has gone into this area by virtue of the great need among our returning veterans. We have attempted to meet this need through a non-profit entity, Homecoming for Veterans (hc4v.org), which has attracted even international participation among clinicians. As a result of these collective efforts, a large database of clinical results has been gathered that is now available for “data-mining.”

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Reflections on ISNR Meeting

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

EEG Info NewsletterThis newsletter was first published in NeuroConnections, the joint publication of the AAPB and ISNR, Winter 2011

This year’s ISNR meeting seemed to have more invited speakers who were comfortable talking neurofeedback. In the past, one had the feeling that some presenters were there mainly to collect their speaking fees, and were not really prepared to engage with us on our core assumptions. There is a rising tide in the neurosciences that is lifting all boats, even ours. The conversation is shifting toward a language of networks, of structural and functional connectivity, as the key issue in psychopathology, and toward neuromodulation as a strategy for functional recovery. And there we are, having occupied that space already for some decades.

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Dysponesis

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

The authors refer to errors in energy expenditure that interfere with nervous system function, i.e. the notion of inefficiency, resulting in reduction of the organisms productivity and disturbance of its emotional reactivity, ideation, and central regulation of various organs of the body.The Dysponesis Hypothesis
We are always casting about for better ways to frame the work that we do in order to make it comprehensible to other professionals and lay persons. Sometime it helps to dip into past history to see how others wrestled with the same issue. One notion that has threaded its way through is that of simple inefficiency in brain regulatory function, which naturally leads to the suggestion that our training improves regulatory effectiveness through promoting higher efficiency in the regulatory mechanisms. It’s a simple concept with a certain amount of face validity, and also offers the virtue of vagueness where we are still uncertain about the details. Another slightly different theme is that the brain sometimes works against itself, that its efforts to right the ship are sometimes counter-productive.

The term dysponesis encompasses a variety of dysfunctions in which the CNS operates counter to the desired end-result. In considering the possible utility of this term in modern parlance, I am going back to an article written by George Whatmore and Daniel Kohli back in 1968 (Behavioral Science, 13(2), 102-124, (1968)), and reprinted as a book chapter in the text Mind/Body Integration (Erik Peper, Sonia Ancoli, and Michelle Quinn, editors), which was first published in 1979. The authors were two physicians in private practice.

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