An experiment on the feedback of the theta activity of the human EEG

W. Lutzenberger, N. Birbaumer, Ch Wildgruber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Most of the reported studies on instrumental learning of EEG theta activity have not used appropriate experimental controls. General session effects have been uncontrolled and no experiment has employed an independent control group. Therefore, a controlled study was conducted to investigate the effect of contingent acoustic feedback on the EEG theta activity. 10 subjects participated in eleven one hour sessions (1 habituation session, 10 training sessions); a cross over design was applied; 5 subjects started with 5 sessions contingent feedback after a baseline session (CF, a soft pink noise on the right ear simultaneously with EEG activity of 3 to 7.8 Hz with a minimal amplitude of 10 uV) and continued with 5 sessions non contingent feedback (NCF, pink noise on the left ear in the sequence of the taperecorded feedback signals produced by the same S in the previous session); the remaining 5 subjects received the same treatment in the reversed order. After the 6th and 11th session both groups were shown an aversive movie and were simultaneously presented with either the 'noncontingent' feedback signal, or the 'contingent' signal, depending on group assignment. The whole experiment was run by an on line program on a PDP l ab 8/e computer, EEG, EOG, HR and subjective changes were recorded. A 'moving baseline' was used for computation of the results. The statistical analysis was made within and across the 10 subjects. There was no significant difference in any of the subjects between the CF and NCF condition or the test conditions (aversive movie). The methodological reasons for this negative result and the foregoing studies with positive outcome are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEUR.J.BEHAV.ANAL.MODIF.
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1975

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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