The attempt to alter electroencephalographic (EEG) frequency/amplitude patterns and their underlying brain mechanisms using contingent operant conditioning methods is today referred to variously as EEG biofeedback, neurofeedback, or neurotherapy. This article traces the history of the clinical application of EEG operant conditioning from empirical animal investigations to its emergence as a treatment option for major seizure types. In light of the diversity of the clinical applications of this method in general, and the complexity of seizure disorders in particular, I also present an overview of specific methods used in our EEG biofeedback program.
INITIAL APPLICATION IN HUMANS
BACKDROP TO THE CLINICAL APPLICATION: KEY ANIMAL STUDIES
To accomplish this, we attempted to facilitate the SMR during wakefulness using an operant conditioning paradigm with a liquid food reward, and then study any resulting changes in sleep spindle activity and sleep structure. Necessary quality controls included alternate training to suppress this rhythm and a counterbalanced design employing two separate groups of cats. Six weeks of three training sessions per week to satiation led to profound and differential changes in sleep EEG and sleep architecture. SMR training, whether it preceded or followed suppression training, led to a significant increase in EEG sleep spindle density, as well as a significant reduction in sleep period fragmentation due to arousals. No changes occurred in the control condition.3