HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF NEUROFEEDBACK
Neurofeedback began in the late 1950s and early '60s through the work of both Dr Joe Kamiya at the University of Chicago and Dr Barry Sterman at UCLA.
Dr. Kamiya was studying consciousness, and discovered that by using a simple reward system, people could learn to alter their brain activity. This was the first ever EEG neurofeedback training.
Along similar lines, Dr. Sterman ran an experiment to see if cats could increase their sensory motor rhythm (SMR). A simple machine gave them a food pellet every time they 'got it right', and they quickly learned to control their brainwaves to get the treat.
The NASA Connection
Several years later he was doing an experiment for NASA, again using the cats from his lab. This time, he was testing the effects of exposure to lunar lander fuel. For most of the cats, as the levels of toxic fumes increased there was a linear progression of brain instability; first drowsiness, then headaches, followed by hallucinations, seizures, and finally death.
However, some of the cats seemed to be immune. Sterman noticed that the cats who were immune were the same cats he had used in the SMR brain training experiment a couple of years before. The SMR training had given those cats utra-stable brains. Sterman moved on to train SMR in humans to control their epilepsy; 60% of his subjects reduced their seizure level by 20-100%, and the results lasted.
As a result, NASA trained their lunar astronauts to control their brain's SMR rhythms. Fifty years later, neurofeedback is still part of the astronaut training program.