EEG BIOFEEDBACK ABOARD THE MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION:
IMPLICATIONS FOR LONG TERM SPACE FLIGHT
John A. Putman M.A., M.S.
EEG Institute & Brian Othmer Foundation
Woodland Hills, CA
Over the last 80 years or so science has met with great success in measuring brain waves and associating them with various states of consciousness. However many states of consciousness tend to defy categorization from an EEG standpoint. (EEG stands for electroencephalograph). But the basic brainwave states and their associated EEG frequencies are as follows: High Beta (18-30 Hz) associated with intense focus and hyperarousal, Low Beta (12-18Hz) associated with external attentiveness and moderate arousal, Alpha (8-12 Hz) associated with relaxation and passive attention, Theta (4-8 Hz) associated with deep relaxation and inward focus and Delta (0.5-3 Hz ) associated with sleep. Brain waves are reflected micro changes in electrical potential (measured at the scalp’s surface). They represent synchronous firings of neurons located in specific areas of the cortex. Although the EEG contains no useful information about the specific “content” of cognitive processes or of thoughts in general, it does manifest changes in the state of physiological arousal, of attentive focus, and even of mood.
Over the past 30 years or so, researchers have demonstrated that teaching a person to deliberately alter their EEG, through such techniques as operant conditioning via EEG biofeedback, can be very effective in treating problems involving disregulation in the dimensions of arousal, attention and affect. A number of studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of EEG biofeedback in treating hyperactivity, Attention Deficit Disorder and specific learning disabilities
All members of the MDRS crew 2 in March 2002 participated in the experiment with each member experiencing between one and three training sessions lasting 21 minutes each. The training took place within fairly narrow time constraints due to the fact that the training, by necessity, imposed on crew time. There was a clear trend toward increased activity in the reward frequency band for each of the subjects.