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Neurofeedback Essay

2687 words - 11 pages

The following paper is an inquiry into my experience with neurofeedback (NFB), through the different problems and questions it raises regarding the old problem of body-mind and object-subject dichotomy, ending in a tentative attempt at applying Gilbert Simondon’s philosophy and notion of the individuation process to the study of the mind and the self, through brain-computer interfaces (BCI) in general and NFB in particular. In a sense, this can be said to fit well with Simondon’s work, where “an object of scientific study becomes the a subject for philosophical reflection”.

The Object – Neurofeedback

NFB, also called neurotherapy, is procedure aimed at inducing neuroplasticity (Which can be defined as any process “involving some form of active or dynamic modification of neural properties resulting from the altered input”) by way of connecting the subject into a closed feedback system which, in various ways, is designed to maintain a specific section of the brain between a certain range of wave lengths. It has applications in areas such as medical use (treatment of neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions, like substance abuse, ADHD and epilepsy), therapy (emotional regulation), self-improvement (in golf or archery), research and even art. An offshoot of biofeedback, which helps gain better control over muscles, the NFB procedure differs from it by the fact that it does not necessitate a volitional action in response to the real-time input fed to the user, but also works without the subject’s active involvement, though there are types of NFB in which the patient is active. The two different types are sometimes referred to as passive and active NFB, respectively.
The device I used, called the 2EB Clinical System and manufactured by BrainMaster Technologies, Inc., along with the specific treatment I undergo, fall under the category of passive NFB. The semi-weekly procedure involves connecting two electrodes to my earlobes and one on a specific spot on the scalp, loading the session’s protocol and watching 30 minutes of a video of my choosing, while every time the treated area of my brain leaves a range of pre-defined wave-lengths, the screen goes black. The specific range is implemented by a technician according to the psychiatrist's review of the last sessions results, which he checks in conjunction with my personal written feedback and the monthly test results - games like Simon and response/blocked-response.
The goal is for me, or my brain, to ‘practice’ staying in the desired range to avoid the screen’s obfuscation and the annoyance that goes along with it. One might assume that this requires from me, at the least, an interest in the film, not to mention some amount of active concentration, but even though these do seem to help sometime, they are of minor importance in the overall ordeal. In “the logic of neurofeedback”, the brain is said to constantly seek stimulus and will register when a frequency range is correlative with external...

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