Biofeedback History

Biofeedback history and the roots of self regulation go as far back as 5,000 years - to the beginnings of meditation and various yoga techniques.

While the word "biofeedback" wasn't coined until 1969, the roots of biofeedback and self-regulation are much older.

Yogis have been consciously controlling their autonomic nervous system (slowing down their heart rate, increasing body temperature, decreasing oxygen consumption) for thousands of years. This act of self-regulation of the autonomic nervous system was not believed to be possible in the West even as late as 1950's.

It can be said that biofeedback history began with the research of Edmund Jacobson who developed progressive relaxation technique in the 1930's and Johann Schultz who developed autogenic training. Both of these techniques are self-regulatory techniques and they served as basis in research and discovery of biofeedback.

Biofeedback is also nicknamed "Yoga of the West" or "Zen technology"

Biofeedback emerged in the 1960's when several scientific, philosophical, and social movements were converging. Three key researchers are thought to be the "fathers"; of biofeedback: Neal Miller, John Basmanjian, and Joe Kamiya. They all contributed to the develpment of a variety of biofeedback techniques.

Neal Miller conducted behavioral research with animals and he found that animals could be trained to control their internal body systems, such as blood pressure and heart function.

John Basmanjian began to study voluntary control over the skeletal muscles. He discovered that with feedback anyone could gain control over a single motor unit within a muscle. Other researchers found that with feedback animals can be trained to control internal body systems such as blood pressure.

Joe Kamiya investigated internal world of perception and discovered that individuals could learn (through EEG feedback) to discriminate between brain wave states. Then he discovered that with feedback, individuals could produce specific brain wave states on demand.

While testing phrases designed for physical relaxation during autogenic training, researchers at the Menninger Foundation discovered skin temperature biofeedback. During a testing session, one of the volunteers accidentally rid herself of a migraine headache when she warmed her hands with autogenics. This led to the research (and subsequent clinical use) of skin temperature biofeedback for migraine headaches.

Biofeedback history progressed from research into clinical practice. Today, biofeedback is a well recognized tool for self-regulation and stress relief. According to Mayo clinic, biofeedback is a useful complementary modality in treating of more than 100 illnesses.

Continue from biofeedback history to How Biofeedback Works.

Related articles:

Biofeedback Techniques
Visualization Relaxation
Diaphragmatic Breathing
Muscle Relaxation Technique


Return from Biofeedback History to Stress Relief Tools


Words of Wisdom

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.
~Sydney J. Harris

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
~Chinese Proverb

There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
~Henry Kissinger

Humor, a great stress reliever!
Laugh, be happy and have less stress!
~Catherine Pulsifer




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