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Measuring and Improving Cardiovascular Homeostasis By Heart Breathing Biofeedback
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Futurehealth Winter Brain Workshop by Paul Lehrer

Heart rate is characterized by patterns of oscillating rhythms which represent the combination of central nervous system and peripheral influences. Various oscillating rhythms reflect specific central nervous system influences. These relate to homeostatic control of heart rate and vascular activity. The complexity of these rhythms is directly related to health of the cardiovascular system. 

This workshop will teach participants how to identify various sources of cardiac variability, and the complex patterns of oscillation that comprise it. They also will have practice in interpretation of various rhythms. They also will learn about the known and hypothesized effects of biofeedback for amplifying respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). 
I will present a theory that biofeedback to increase amplitude of oscillations in heart rhythm at various frequencies can improve homeostatic and adaptive capacities, improve performance in a variety of situations, and enhance resistance to functional illness. The mechanism for these effects appears to be increased efficiency of central homeostatic reflexes. Clinical and research data will be reviewed. 

Participants will learn to use several devices for RSA biofeedback, and to see the effect of various behavioral tasks and respiratory maneuvers, both in themselves and in other participants.   
Objectives: Attendees will learn the following:
1. The various known oscillations in heart rate, their link with breathing, and known physiological mediators.

2. The theoretical links between the body's homeostatic capacity and both the complexity and amplitude of these oscillations; and data supporting these theories.
3. Specific disorders for which RSA biofeedback may be a helpful intervention.
4. Procedures associated with RSA biofeedback, and potential clinical applications.
5. How to perform RSA biofeedback with several equipment packages.
Workshop outline:
I. A catalog of known rhythmicities in heart rate.
A. Fast waves (respiratory sinus arrhythmia), slow waves, very slow waves, and ultra slow waves.
1. Demonstrating and illustrating these waves
2. RSA and respiration
3. Physiological mechanisms
4. Methods of measurement
B. Uniqueness of rhythmicity patterns
II. The links between various measures of cardiac variability and physiological function
A. Cardiac variability and cardiac disease
B. The importance of noise in detecting information and operation of reflexes
C. Psychophysiological adaptation and homeostasis.
1. The theoretical and empirical links between cardiac variability and various measures of healthy homeostasis.
D. Resonance effects and their importance for biofeedback
III. Methods and standards for accurate measurement of cardiac variability.
IV. Cardiac variability and psycho-behavioral function
V. Biofeedback for changing amplitude of various cardiac rhythmicities: methods and strategies.
A. Psychophysiological effects of voluntary increases in amplitude of respiratory sinus arrhythmia.
B. Various methods for providing biofeedback
VII. The Zen of cardiac variability.
VIII. Therapeutic applications of biofeedback for respiratory sinus arrhythmia: demonstrated and potential.

Applications to asthma, hypertension, and the anxiety disorders.
IX. Experiential exposure to biofeedback for respiratory sinus arrhythmia, using various equipment packages.


Author: Paul Lehrer

Other Products by Paul Lehrer

1) Conditioning the Baroreflex
2) Cardio Respiratory Biofeedback Update


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