PREDICTIVE DUAL PROCESS THEORY FOR ALPHA ENHANCEMENT

Major Purpose

To present a theory of alpha enhancement which explains how feedback trainees learn (or fail to learn) alpha increases.

Kamiya’s (1976) Presidential Address urged the formulation of theories for biofeedback, noting that absence of theoretical bases has retarded development of this field. Kamiya thus motivated development of this theory, which has three major features:

A. It successfully accounts for past findings in the alpha feedback literature.

B. It identifies key parameters which influence training success or failure, and it makes experimentally testable predictions about optimizing those parameters in a variety of settings.

C. It generates testable predictions about clinical applications of alpha enhancement training:

  1. Differential effectiveness with differential clinical groups.
  2. Differential enhancement strategies required for hypo- and hyper-aroused subjects.

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EXPLORATIONS IN AWARENESS: RESPIRATION & RELAXATION

We shall now consider some details of these alpha feedback experiences to focus attention on the meanings of physiological and psychological processes which were discovered, and we shall sketch briefly some objective evidence of the relationship of alpha activity to two other physiological systems: muscle activity (EMG) and respiration. It is obvious that the extreme sensitivity of feedback enhanced alpha activity to the amount of egoicity in specific thoughts makes it possible to study the structure of thinking processes and thought formation in a new way. Seeking the structure of the thinking aspects of consciousness is an entirely new area for phenomenological study. Not only will its development enhance the psychology of cognition, but by virtue of the permanent physiological record of the feedback scores, it will also further psychophysiology. A direct subjective and objective understanding is also achieved of the interdependence of multiple physiological systems. The patterning of physiological responses was understood almost effortlessly by noting the interactive effects of changes in muscle tension, breathing activity and alpha activity. A brief formal analysis will serve to increase our confidence in the validity of insights derived from subjective sources during the alpha feedback

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WHAT DOES 4 CHANNEL ALPHA FEEDBACK DO TO WHOLE HEAD (8 CHANNEL) ALPHA ACTIVITY?

Eight channel EEGs (O1, O2, C3, C4, T3, T4, F3, F4) were recorded, filtered, and digitized for 17 right handed non-meditators, who received broad band alpha feedback simultaneously on 4 channels (O1, O2, C3, C4). Alpha feedback was both 4 auditory tones and 4 periodically presented digital integrated amplitude alpha scores. Auditory feedback on each of the 4 feedback channels was presented through 4 spatially separated speakers, and employed separate pitches for the tones which signaled activity at each of the 4 cortical feedback sites. Auditory feedback was driven by the envelope of the filtered, full wave rectified broad band alpha activity. Auditory feedback was presented to Ss sitting upright, eyes closed, in a totally dark, climate controlled, sound proof (Industrial Acoustics Corp.) chamber. Auditory feedback was continuous, except for an 8 second interruption every 2 minutes, during which 8 second interruption all the feedback tones shifted to resting pitches, which signaled the S to open his/her eyes to view the digital scores, which were illuminated only during these 8 seconds.

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PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGICAL SURFACES:A METHOD FOR MAPPING AND ALTERING HUMAN MIND STATES

The recent availability of sophisticated computerized EEG analysis equipment, has popularized “brain mapping”, bringing many varieties of colorful types of displays, each one capable [with varying degrees of resolution] of imaging happy brains, depressed brains, active brains, resting brains, etc. In spite of their many variations, all of these “brain mapping” techniques are alike in that they are purely descriptive and do not have a predictive or prescriptive capability. The current mapping techniques can describe a happy brain or a depressed brain, but they can not predict or prescribe what brain parameters to change, or what sequence of changes to make, or in what direction to make the changes in order for the person to change from a feeling of depressed to happy, or from sleepy to vigor, or from confused to clear thinking. As a consequence, much EEG feedback is misguided, or worse, unguided.

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