Neurofeedback, as we have known it so far, measures the electrical
activity of the brain, EEG, as a feedback signal to be controlled by
the patient. Here we have substituted blood oxygenation for the same
You have probably tried shining a flashlight through your hand and
have seen the dark side light up. Our tissues, flesh and bone, are
translucent.It's not dark in there.
In the sunlight, if you were in there with your brain, you could read a
newspaper by that light. In HEG a light is shone on your brain through
the translucent scalp and skull.
A spectrophotometer device is worn on the head. Flashing red and
infrared lights are shown in the fi gure as one optode. The light
collection amplifier is another type of optode. It responds to the
returned light thatis reflected and refracted by the encountered tissue.
These optodes are spaced 3 centimeters apart so as to conduct most of
the available light at the depth of cortical tissue. As can be seen the application is very simple.
Red, 660 nm, and infrared, 850 nm, lights are alternately shown on
brain tissue. The graph above shows the large difference in red light
attenuation between oxygen rich and oxygen starved hemoglobin whereas
the infrared light is minimally changed. (Elwell 1999)
A computer program receives a measure of each light color, calculates their ratio, and graphs the value for the patient to see, hear and alter.
During the summer of 1994 it was discovered that the author could
intentionally increase cerebral regional oxygenation. The computer
graph responded to thoughts. Brain oxygenation increased merely by
intenselywilling it. A neurofeedback system was born.
Neurofeedback using this new technique provides a means to exercise
selected brain areas. Exercise increases blood flow to the chosen brain
module. Capillaries and dendrites grow with brain exercise (Kaiser
1997, Thompson et al. 1998, Joyce and Seiver 1997, Rossiter 1996, 1996,
Kaiser 1997). An audible tone was devised that increased in pitch to
signify increased blood oxygenation. To increase oxygenation one would
merely attend to the highest note in each trill and will the next
higher note to sound. Application of the headband and monitoring
patient progress is simple. The treatment process is divided into
ten-minute segments. Usually three to four such segments constitute a
Marion Diamond (1965) first showed the
importance of enhanced environments in 1965. She demonstrated that
brain exercise increased the weight of rat brains. Dr. Diamond
undertook to determine if old rats could learn new tricks. Rats live to
an old age of 900 days. She selected seven hundred-day old rats for her
experiment. She divided the rats into three groups: 1. One rat in a
cage, 2. Two rats to a cage, and 3. Six rats to a larger cage. All the
rats were fed standard laboratory chow. Cages with six rats were
provided with new toys; mazes to solve, rotating drums for exercise,
etc. almost every day. These rats were held and petted by the lab
assistants. (Rats love to be tickled.) After a month the rats were
sacrificed and their brains were examined. Those of the
high-stimulation group were found to be 8% heavier compared to the
solitary group. The additional weight was supported by denser capillary
beds. Microscopic examination of enhanced environment cortical slices
revealed dendritic trees resembling a dense rain forest. Those of the
solitary group resembled a carefully manicured landscape.
What if you could produce the same effects in a different manner? The following SPECT images show (permanent) changes in blood fl ow after treatment for a manic-depressive patient.
Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography (SPECT), demonstrating blood flow pre- and post-treatment
Fig. 3: SPECT study of manic depressed patient before treatment
Fig. 4: SPECT study of manic depressed patient after 23 treatment sessions
These SPECT studies are compared to an age related, standardized
data. The false color blood fl ow levels are shown by colors ranging
from purple (unusually low) through white (unusually high). The scale
on the left side of the images shows z-scores (standard deviations)
from the mean. The population mean is depicted in yellow. The left
margin color scale defi nes standard deviations relative to the
Lifetime in innovative research resulting in many honors, patents, and pioneering development of biofeedback computer based instrumentation including Biocomp 2010 followed by invention of hemoencephalography (HEG)
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