Date of Award:

1978

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Sebastian Striefel

Abstract

A number of studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of EEG biofeedback procedures in reducing seizure activity in patients who have not achieved remission through drug therapy. However, results indicate a lack of correlation between changes in seizure activity and the EEG parameters trained. Recent research has suggested that occipital alpha activity may be modified indirectly as a function of the EEG biofeedback training procedures. The present study sought to determine the effects of directly conditioning occipital alpha on seizure activity.

Three retarded epileptic individuals, who had not achieved complete remission from seizures through drug therapy, were provided with 8-12 Hz occipital EEG biofeedback training using a multiple baseline design While seizures were not totally eliminated in any of the subjects, the results of the study indicated that all subjectsexhibited decreases in some aspect of their seizure activity. S-1 's mean number of seizures per day during EEG feedback training was lower than the baseline or posttraining conditions. Associated with this decrease in seizures was an increase in the percent of seizure free days during training as compared to baseline or posttraining conditions. S-2's mean number of seizures per day decreased during training as compared to baseline. This decrease, however, was not associated with an increase in the percent of seizure free days during training as compared with the baseline condition. S-3 ' s percent of seizure free days increased during training and returned to baseline level during posttraining. The mean number of seizures per day for both the EEG feedback and baseline conditions were approximately equal, and lower than the posttraining condition.

Two of the subjects, S-2 and S-3, increased their percent of time of 8-12 Hz activity during the training condition, as compared to baseline levels. Associated with the increase in 8-12 Hz activity was a decrease in percent of time of 4-8 Hz activity; an increase in the mean frequency of 8-12 Hz activity; and with one subject a reduction in the mean amplitude of the 8-12 Hz activity.

One possible explanation for these results was the differing degree of effectiveness of the feedback stimuli in terms of their functionality as reinforcers. In addition, several differences between subjects (medication and diagnosis) may have also contributed to the results.

One possible explanation which may have accounted for the reduction in seizure frequency not being associated with an increase in 8-12 Hz activity was that a change in another physiological parameter may have occurred as a result of the training procedure which in turn effected a decrease in seizure rate. Or possibly the subjects achieved a generally lower level of arousal which was responsible for the decrease in seizure frequency.

The results of the study suggest changes in procedures will be necessary if 8-12 Hz occipital training is to be developed into an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of epilepsy.

Methodological improvements which would provide a more accurate assessment of the effectiveness of all EEG biofeedback techniques used in the treatment of epilepsy, include: selection of subjects with higher frequencies of seizures, subjects of normal intelligence, the simultaneous recording of several other physiological parameters, and the development of a more reliable monitoring system of seizure activity.

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