In this discussion with Dr. Erik Peper, we explore the frontier of psychophysiological self-regulation. Dr. Peper talks about the research he did in the late 60s and early 70s on EEG alpha training. He describes how he learned to turn off alpha brain rhythms in one hemisphere and turn them on in the other. At that time, before the introduction of biofeedback machines, they used old EEG equipment along with old polygraph machines.
He also mentions Dr. Joe Kamiya, who, in the late 1950s became the father of EEG biofeedback. Prior to joining the faculty at UCSF Medical Center, Kamiya’s lab was at the University of Chicago. There, he devised a way by which subjects could, for the first time, learn to identify their own brain wave rhythms. This research was carried out over ten years before the creation of the first commercially available biofeedback equipment.
Modern neurofeedback equipment allows researchers and clinicians to get extremely useful feedback, allowing people who are hooked up to get very good at identifying their own brain rhythms and to alter them at will. This can potentially allow us to re-train our brains. However, as Dr. Peper explains, skill acquisition of somatic measures such as respiration, heart rate, skin conductance, skin temperature, and muscle tension is much easier and faster.
In this video he also talks about how the real gift of science is about being open to explore rather than to assume our beliefs are factual. Science is about curiosity, experimentation, and exploration. In studying people with cancer and other diseases it is vital that we study more than just pathology–we need to study those individuals who are the outliers, that is, those who recovered against all odds–let’s see what they did to mobilize their health.