Human Anatomy & Physiology (9th Edition)

Published by Pearson
ISBN 10: 0321743261
ISBN 13: 978-0-32174-326-8

Chapter 14 - The Autonomic Nervous System - Review Questions - Page 542: 15


Biofeedback training (biofeedback) is a therapeutic procedure used to help one get control over involuntary body process like breathing , heartbeat, and skin temperature, gastric motility bladder sphincter action. The purpose of the training is to help a patient develop the capacity to consciously reduce or increase the level of activity of these processes-- if they get out of homeostatic ranges. When this capacity is gained it can then be used to treat or control pathological conditions such as incontinence, migraine, constipation, chronic pain, seizures, hypertension and others.. In healthcare institutions, this training is usually done under the supervision of a psychologist. The machine or equipment used to train one depends on the process -- heartbeat, respiratory rate--, being observed. Many processes have been employed in this type of training including, heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, brain waves, and muscle activity. During a training session, the biofeedback trainee is usually fitted with sensors which are connected to an electronic monitor ; the type will depend on the parameter being measured. Thus an EEG monitor is used for monitoring brain wanes; an EMG is used to monitor muscle activity , an ECK(EKG) is used to display heart rate, and EDA equipment to estimate sweating. In a session, after the trainees is " hooked up" he/she is able to observe levels of heart rate, muscle tension or blood pressure by watching a graphic trace, listening to sounds, or observing the frequencies of flashing lights. After the trainee/subject knows what to observe he/she is asked to try to control the functioning of the process by doing something voluntary. This may be deep breathing, muscle relaxation, focusing on an image or practicing mindfulness. As the subject acquires control over the involuntary process, he or she is given rewards ( tokens, money, cards). If the training is successful the trainee eventually learns to consciously manipulate some of the involuntary processes of his/her body without being offered material rewards. The ultimate objective of biofeedback training is to give the subject the capacity or skill to control, moderate or extinguish a pathological process or illness. Migraine headache, urinary incontinence, temporamandibular joint disorder(TMJ) , epilepsy, ADHD, and seizure disorders are a few of of the ailments that have been successfully treated with biofeedback training.

Work Step by Step

Biofeedback training is a process by which a subject is trained to acquire some degree of conscious control over physiological processes that are normally involuntary. Some such processes are breathing, heartbeat, Gastric motility, sweating, involuntary muscle contraction. In training sessions, biofeedback trainees are fitted with sensors attached to monitors of a machine that records the the working of an involuntary body process of the trainee.. Such a machine may be an electroencephalograph(EEG), an electromyograph (EMG) an electrocardiograph (EKG) or one of many others.The machine displays the variations of the level of functioning of the process by varying frequencies of light flashes, sounds or the changes in amplitudes of electronic traces. The patient is asked to try to modify the level of functioning of a process , for example , his/ her heart rate, by concentrating on a color, by muscle relaxation, by practicing mindfulnes or by deep breathing The feedback information on the biofeedback machine monitors usually makes the subject aware of even the slightest success , that is, it gives prompt feedback. In addition, most machines dispense rewards --cards, tokens, money-- for each and every improvement in skill shown by the trainee. Eventually, the trainee learns to control his or her blood pressure or heart rate without being bribed with rewards. At this point, it is time to implement the real therapeutic purpose of the training. Usually, people do this training to get control over a pathology or dysfunction associated with an involuntary process. . Some conditions that have been successfully treated by biofeedback therapy are migraine headache, seizure disorder, urinary incontinence, asthma ,and ADHD. It used to be that only clinically trained psychologists and psychiatrists offered biofeedback training . But currently biofeedback training is big business, and there are many courses and portable monitors available on the internet. The FDA has approved some monitors, nevertheless, anyone seeking biofeedback training needs to get reliable information from government agencies like NIH, FDA, and CDC
Update this answer!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this answer.

Update this answer

After you claim an answer you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.