Self-regulation of slow cortical potentials in psychiatric patients: Depression

Frank Schneider, Hans Heimann, Regina Mattes, Werner Lutzenberger, Niels Birbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Findings on depressive patients indicate that depressives have electrophysiological characteristics similar to those of schizophrenics, in that they exhibit reduced Contingent Negative Variation (CNV) amplitudes and more distinct Postimperative Negative Variations (PINVs) than normal controls. In a biofeedback experiment, 8 medicated male inpatients with the DSM III-R diagnosis of "Bipolar Disorder, Depressive," and "Major Depression" demonstrated no impairment in the self-regulation of Slow Cortical Potentials (SCP) in comparison to schizophrenics in terms of increasing and suppressing negativity. Continuous visual SCP feedback is presented to the patient as a horizontally moving rocket in a video game format. The direction changes of the rocket represented SCP changes at each point in time, recorded by the central EEG (based on the pretrial baseline). Depressives demonstrated SCP self-regulation across 20 sessions, although with many between-and-within variations. The 8 male controls were unable to regulate their SCPs across 5 sessions. This result contradicts other findings of our laboratory on normal controls. Motivational factors and insufficient operant reinforcement (financial reward) may have facilitated this effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-214
Number of pages12
JournalBiofeedback and Self-Regulation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1992


  • biofeedback
  • CNV
  • depression
  • instrumental learning
  • slow cortical potentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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