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Book Forum: Cognitive Neuroscience   |    
Introduction to Quantitative EEG and Neurofeedback
TERRY A. TRAVIS, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:827-827. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.158.5.827
View Author and Article Information
Springfield, Ill.

Edited by James R. Evans and Andrew Abarbanel. Orlando, Fla., Academic Press, 1999, 406 pp., $79.95.

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This book should be read by neurologists, adult and child psychiatrists, psychologists, and others interested in the interaction of the mind and body. The book is well written and edited and divided into coherent sections that give structure to the current body of knowledge and ongoing areas of research. There are excellent references following each chapter that provide access to historical studies and current research.

In the preface the editors present a succinct but accurate history of neurofeedback, starting with Joe Kamiya’s studies on operant control of the central nervous system in the 1960s, the rise and fall of interest in what was referred to as "biofeedback," and the revival of such research in the 1980s with the "availability of reasonably priced and highly efficient computerized EEG diagnostic and feedback instruments." As a result, there has been formal recognition of this research and treatment modality with the establishment of a professional society, a professional journal, and neurofeedback certification for therapists. The editors also present the use of quantified EEG or quantitative EEG to provide objective data and the ongoing controversies about specific procedures and needed research.

I feel that Evans and Abarbanel admirably meet their goals in this book as stated:

We hope this text will fill an empty niche in the foundation of this exciting and rapidly developing field. With a proper foundation for this field, there can be high expectations that neurofeedback will remain alive and well and grow into its original promise of becoming one of the major treatment modalities for a range of disorders.

The articles are divided into four general sections. Part 1, General Principles and History, presents three chapters that discuss in depth quantitative EEG, its development, how it works, the need for appropriate databases, definitions of coherence and phase measures, and amplitude ratios and differences. This section addresses the need for thorough and well-documented research, design issues, and evaluation of clinical responses.

Part 2 reviews the current state of clinical applications, with research data and good discussions regarding where further research is needed. Areas covered are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dissociation, mood disorders, head trauma, coma, stroke, addiction, and performance enhancement training. Many cases are presented with results that are often very striking and worthy of further investigation and use.

Part 3 reviews the basic science underpinnings of neurofeedback training as well as theories about a variety of conceptual models of EEG biofeedback, current controversies, and recommended research. Part 4 is an excellent overview of a panoply of legal and ethical issues.

This is an exciting and challenging book that will cause the reader to ponder certain assumptions about the adaptability of the brain, about each individual’s control over brain function, and the potential for clinical application that are now being tested and researched. The need for careful further research in well-designed studies done ethically is a strong undercurrent that emerges many times in the book and challenges us all to look at the potential benefits for patients of applications that warrant further development.

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