Self-regulation of slow cortical potentials in psychiatric patients: Alcohol dependency

Frank Schneider, Thomas Elbert, Hans Heimann, Andreas Welker, Friedhelm Stetter, Regina Mattes, Niels Birbaumer, Karl Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ten unmedicated alcohol-dependent male inpatients participated in a Slow Cortical Potential (SCP) self-regulation task utilizing biofeedback and instrumental conditioning. These patients were hospitalized for treatment of alcohol dependency after chronic abuse of alcoholic beverages. Somatic withdrawal symptomatology had occurred recently and the patients were free of any withdrawal symptoms of the autonomic nervous system. Immediately after hospitalization patients were unable to control their SCPs without the reinforcement of immediate feedback across 4 sessions. Seven patients participated in a fifth session an average of 4 months later. Six out of these 7 patients had not had a relapse at the follow-up. In the fifth session these patients were immediately able to differentiate between the required negativity and negativity suppression, whereas the seventh patient, who had relapsed, was unable to control his brain potentials successfully. Results are further evidence that some of the frontocortical dysfunctions in alcohol-dependent patients are reversible. This could covary with a morphological restitution of the cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalBiofeedback and Self-Regulation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1993


  • alcohol dependency
  • biofeedback
  • CNV
  • instrumental learning
  • slow cortical potentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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