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History of SMR Training

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  • 1. Is brain-behavior behavior?
    • If so, it can be conditioned just like other behaviors
    • In 1960s, certain rhythms could be “trained”
    • Led to Neurotherapy and Brain-Computer interfaces (BCI)
  • 2. History of Biofeedback
    • JH Bair, 1901, instrument used to teach ear wiggling
    • In early 20th century, J.H. Schultz in Germany developed a technique called Autogenic Training . Verbal instructions are used to guide a person to a more relaxed and controlled physiological state.
      • The method flourished, and the results were reported upon by Wolfgang Luthe in 1969 in the United States.
    • Increased awareness in Western world of yogic ability to alter physiology volitionally. E.g., a yogi could survive in a sealed box by voluntarily reducing his metabolic rate significantly, surviving hours with a limited supply of oxygen.
    • Peripheral biofeedback techniques include
      • GSR, thermal, breathing, cardiac
  • 3. Internal inhibition
    • Pavlov conditioning experiments
      • Tone for food, buzzer for shock –
      • Moved them closer together in time
      • confounded dog fell asleep
        • Termed “internal inhibition”
        • Animal can close down own systems to avoid stress
  • 4. History of EEG biofeedback
    • 1934, Adrian watched his EEG in front of oscillograph and created alpha at will
    • 1958, alpha biofeedback or deep states
      • Joe Kamiya at U Chicago
      • Subject 1,
        • 1st trial, 60 tones  60 guesses, half right
        • 2 nd , 65 % correct
        • 3 rd , 85% correct
        • 4th, after initial mistakes, 400 correct guesses in a row
    • 1968, 1st congress in Aspen Colorado, field named biofeedback
    • “ Alpha training” adopted by counterculture and practitioners oversold its claims
    From Kamiya (1978) Science paper
  • 5. History of SMR biofeedback
    • In 1960s Mercury astronauts claimed they saw natives waving at them when they flew over the Pacific.
      • (i.e., they hallucinated)
    • In 1967, Gordon Allies, inventor of amphetamine, was contracted to test toxicity of Mercury capsule rocket fuel with David Fairchild
    • However Allies tested another chemical compound on himself and died before contract over. Fairchild asked Sterman to help finish work.
    • MB Sterman
  • 6. History of SMR biofeedback
    • Then Sterman and Fairchild went on to another study, testing rocket fuel on 50 cats, 10 from Sterman’s previous SMR training study.
    • Inject 100 mg/kg or so of fuel into each cat
      • After one hour, all usually go into grand mal
        • but not all - 7 delayed, 3 not at all.
      • seizure thresholds changed in these 10
      • Not explainable by placebo (“i shall please” in Latin) as cats didn’t know what to expect, and experimenter blind because effect was entirely unexpected
  • 7. When monomethyl hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer come in contact, they ignite automatically( i.e., no spark required) in absence of oxygen Mono-methyl hydrazine
  • 8. Sterman was studying EEG-behavioral correlates in cats
  • 9. If EEG behavior is like any other behavior, it could be shaped with operant conditioning
    • Two prominent rhythms in cat EEG – SMR and PRS
      • Couldn’t train PRS, but could train SMR
  • 10. Operant Conditioning Increasing probability of rewarded actions
  • 11. 10 cats trained to produce SMR (12-19 Hz over motor strip) for chicken broth & milk
  • 12. Classic abundance response at extinction
  • 13. History of SMR biofeedback
    • Sterman and Fairchild tested NASA’s rocket fuel on 50 cats, 10 from Sterman’s previous SMR training study.
    • Inject same mg/kg of fuel into each cat
      • Cats show usual toxic prodrome After 1 hr, all usually go into grand mal
        • Of 50, 7 cats showed prodrome with delayed seizures and 3 without seizing.
        • Examining his data carefully, including who made up his sample, he realized the seizure thresholds changed in cats who underwent SMR training
      • Not explainable by placebo (“I shall please” in Latin) as cats didn’t know what to expect, and experimenter blind because effect was unexpected
  • 14. Sterman et al (1967) showing usual toxic prodrome and resistance to MMH-induced seizures in a subgroup NASA Rocket fuel Avg 2 hours+ for seizures with EEG trained cats vs. 1 hour for normal cats Time
  • 15. History of SMR biofeedback
    • Replicated in monkeys
    • Onto humans at colleagues’ urging.
      • n=1, epileptic case in EEG & Clin Neurophysiology
      • n=4, 65% seizure reduction ( Epilepsia 1976)
      • n=8, ABA 3-year study, ( Epilepsia 1978)
      • NIH-funded study
        • Sham control, n=24, 3yrs
        • Double yoked
          • n=8, n=8 NF, n=8 log books
        • Many went seizure free who received NF
        • Reliable increase in sleep spindle density and decreased awakenings
    * ** ** 60% reduction in seizures 12 mo after training Lantz & Sterman, Epilepsia, 1988; Sterman & Lantz, JNT, 2001
  • 16. Improved functioning with SMR training (C3)
    • Sterman, MB (2000). Basic Concepts and Clinical Findings in the Treatment of Seizure Disorders with EEG Operant Conditioning.
    • Clinical EEG, 31(1 ), 45-55.
  • 17. Why does SMR training work? Sterman & Bloomfield, 1976
  • 18. How does SMR training work?
    • Likely enhances GABA circuitry involved in motor regulation, dampens excitability to sensorimotor stimulation
      • May increase GABAergic receptor density in sensorimotor pathways
  • 19.
    • 1967 SMR conditioning in general
    • 1973 Epilepsy
    • 1975 Peak Performance
    • 1976 ADHD
    • 1977 Addiction
    • 1978 Anxiety disorders
    • 1978 Learning disabilities
    • 1980 Sleep Disorders
    • 1995 Brain Injury
    • 1995 Lyme's Disease
    • 1996 CFS
    • 1997 Mood disorders
    • Neurofeedback Applications by year of 1 st publication
    Epilepsy  ADHD  Beyond Lubar and Bahler (1976) trained epileptics to reduce seizure but noted that a hyperactive epileptic showed decrease in his overactivity after SMR enhancement and theta suppression training Thalamocortical dysrhythmias may underlying a variety of conditions including depression, dysfunction associated with TBI, etc