Historical Survey of Biofeedback Development

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Psychophysiology is the scientific study of the interrelationships between cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physiological processes. Biofeedback techniques and applications grew out of the research in psycho-physiology. Biofeedback research became widespread in the 1960s, when studies reported that a variety of presumable nonvoluntary responses could be brought under operant control. Many studies using electroen-cephalographic feedback were reported which indicated that alpha brain activity could be brought under voluntary control. As these studies gained the attention of clinicians, soon biofeedback was applied to treating various disorders such as migraine headache and hypertension. The growing body of research on stress also provided support for the use of biofeedback as a research tool as well as a treatment approach. Research on the effects of relaxation, meditation, and hypnosis in producing the relaxation response to counteract the effects of stress provided further support for the concept of self-regulation using biofeedback. Advancing technology provided more efficient, reliable, and sophisticated instrumentation that has allowed for greater in-depth study and validation of applied biofeedback. Researchers also became interested in evaluating the various theories being proposed regarding how and why biofeedback works.

Biofeedback experimentation and methodology represents a major advance in the scientific evaluation of the relationships between behavior, environment, and the regulation of physiological processes. Some historians suggest that it is the single most significant development to occur in the area of psychophysiology. Biofeedback methodology has widened the scope and increased the capability of behavioral models of experimentation and analyses in research on physiological functioning and self-regulation. It has stimulated interest in behavioral models of etiology and treatment of psychophysiological disorders. Biofeedback experimentation has provided evidence for new approaches to the alteration of emotional states and the study of consciousness.

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