The Story Of How Neurofeedback Began
In this video, Stuart Black describes the story of neurofeedback, how neurofeedback was discovered by the pioneers including Joe Kamiya, Jim Hardt and Barry Sterman. How Barry Sterman’s research with cats led to the the discovery that neurofeedback can reduce seizures and help epileptics, and how this research challenges the myth that neurofeedback may be a placebo effect.
Neurofeedback for peak performance
Neurofeedback research goes back more that 50 years to the 1950s when Joe Kamiya demonstrated that people could be trained to generate Alpha brainwaves in response to feedback. Alpha waves correspond to meditative states, and Joe Kamiya and his students, including Jim Hardt, focused on Neurofeedback for personal development, spiritual development and peak performance.
Neurofeedback for therapy
Barry Sterman was the person who really pioneered neurofeedback for therapeutic purposes. Like many scientific discoveries, Sterman came upon the power of neurofeedback by accident. He was doing some sleep research using cats, and in some of the cats he noticed a particular brainwave pattern that seemed to be associated with stillness. He experimented to see if he could train his cats to generate this brainwave using neurofeedback, in the form of food when they generated the frequency. This worked extremely well, was quite a big deal at the time, and was published.
Then NASA asked him to do some research on the toxicity of rocket fuel. On the face of it, this was nothing to do with the previous work.
He injected 50 cats with rocket fuel. They all started vomiting, crying, panting and salivating, and some of them started having seizures. However there were some enormous differences in the time it took the seizures to come on, and in some cats they didn’t come on at all.
When they investigated, they discovered that the cats in the sample that were less susceptible to seizures were the same cats who had been brain trained !
Interestingly, some people still argue neurofeedback needs blinded studies to eliminate the placebo effect. But this was a comletely blind study – no-one had any idea the effect they were going to discover – and no-one arguing this has explained how they propose the placebo effect works in cats !