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Megabrain Editorial: Peak Performance Brain Waves

Edited by Michael Hutchison


A neuroscientist used to be like a man in a Goodyear
blimp floating over a bowl game: he could hear the
crowd roar, and that was about it.  But now we're down
in the stands.  It's not too long before we'll be able
to tell why one man gets a hot dog and one man gets a
				--Floyd Bloom, neuroanatomist
					Scripps Clinic

The Brain Revolution has been one of the most momentous events in
human history. Perhaps its most exciting development has been
that for the first time, as Floyd Bloom observes, humans have
been able to get right down into the arena of the human brain and
observe the action as it happens--and then look at it again in
slow-motion on the instant replay.

With the development of computerized brain monitoring devices of
incredible sensitivity, scientists have been able to observe what
goes on in our brains during virtually every life experience--
pain, ecstasy, depression, love, having a flash of insight,
seeing stripes, remembering, forgetting, eating, sleeping, having
sex.  Most remarkably, scientists have discovered that by
watching the activity of our own brains, we can quickly learn how
to change our brains, and in doing so change what we are

The implications are enormous. If we can change our own brain
states at will, then surely we can learn to shift out of unwanted
or unhealthy states or experiences into desired states and
experiences.  Just as we can change channels on our TVs, we may
be able to intentionally switch out of states such as pain,
depression, anxiety and anger and switch into pleasure, love,
well-being, insight and clarity.

While there are numerous new tools for observing the brain,
ranging from MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), PET (positron
emission tomography), and SPECT (single photon emission
computerized tomography), to SQUID (superconducting quantum
interference device), perhaps the most exciting work in the last
few years has been done using the EEG (electroencephalogram) in
the biofeedback or neurofeedback mode--by enabling subjects to
observe and thereby to learn to change the electrical activity of
their own brains. What these EEG researchers have found,  as one
writes elsewhere in this issue of Megabrain Report, summarizing
his 25 years of research, is that, remarkably, "Brain waves
relate to everything."

Using EEG feedback, researchers, clinicians and their subjects
have, among other things, been able to train the brain to "heal"
itself from alcoholism and drug addiction, learning disorders and
brain traumas, depression and anxiety. Subjects in some EEG
studies have experienced average IQ increases of 20 to 30 points. 
Some researchers have found certain patterns of brain activity
that seem linked to extraordinary or peak brain states, such as
transcendence, illumination, flow, awakening. And, using EEG
feedback systems as well as other mind technology, they have
found that subjects can learn to enter these peak states.

With such a wealth of breakthrough work being done with EEG and
EEG feedback, we have decided to devote this issue of Megabrain
Report to exploring this field. In the pages that follow are
articles by some of the leading researchers, clinicians and
theoreticians of EEG brain training, as well as discussions of
the most exciting research being done around the world, and
reviews of the latest EEG equipment. 

With such a wealth of breakthrough work being done with EEG and
EEG feedback, we decided to devote an entire issue of MEGABRAIN
REPORT to exploring this field. This issue was to be our "EEG
Special."  And indeed, in the pages that follow are articles by
many of the leading researchers, clinicians and theoreticians of
EEG brain training, as well as discussions of the most exciting
research being done in the field, and reviews of the latest EEG
feedback equipment.

However, as we discussed the articles with the various
contributors, and as the articles appeared, it became clear that
there was simply too much information, too many good articles,
too many connections to be made between the work of different
contributors, to fit into a single issue, even if we expanded it
far beyond our "maximum" of 48 pages.  

And so our EEG Special has expanded into two jumbo issues, both
jam packed with fresh, mind-stretching and original material.

When we invited scientists to contribute, we asked them to write
about developments and discoveries in EEG feedback and research
that they felt were most important. So it has been fascinating,
as the articles have come in, to see how each of these
scientists, working largely independently, has focused on the
same few recurrent themes. Dr. James Hardt and Dr. Les Fehmi both
provide moving and heartfelt descriptions of how their first-hand
experiences of personal transformation through EEG feedback in
the 1960s have added an almost spiritual sense of urgency and
committment to their work. Most of the contributors clearly agree
that the extraordinary recent developments in EEG are founded on
the pioneering EEG feedback work in the 60s and 70s by Joe
Kamiya, Elmer Green, Barry Sterman, Joel Lubar, Tom Budzynski,
Jim Hardt, and Les Fehmi, among others. They also seem to share a
common perception that the vast potential for human development
hinted at by the EEG feedback research of the tumultuous 60s was
disturbing to the medical, scientific and cultural mainstream,
and as a result was suppressed, derided or actively discouraged
for almost 20 years--what we can now call the Nixon-Reagan Era.
As a result, virtually all of them seem to share a sense of
personal satisfaction in the recent emergence of EEG feedback as
a "hot" field.  Perhaps the heat of the recent EEG explosion is a
natural result of the years of discouragement.

Hardt, Fehmi, Dr. Jon Cowan, Dr. Len Ochs, Dr. Siegfried Othmer,
Dr. Thomas Budzynski, Dr. Julian Isaacs and Anna Wise all write
with evident excitement and optimism about the extraordinary
power of EEG feedback training of specific types or at certain
frequencies to produce unprecedented and at times seemingly
miraculous healings, resolutions of formerly intractable
psychological problems (including addiction, Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder, brain trauma, depression and anxiety), and
sudden re-orderings of personality. While they may all offer
speculations, theories and conjectures, using fuzzy words like
consciousness, unconscious, subconscious, transformation,
"witness" consciousness, "inputting" information, brainwave
"training," attention and attention deficit, they all are aware
of the tentative nature of their conclusions.  All of them seem
to share the view that "we ain't seen nothing yet"--that we have
only begun to begin to understand a bit about the workings of
brain wave feedback, that the workings of the brain remain the
greatest and most fascinating mystery of our age.

Each of these scientists look at essentially the same phenomena--
high amplitude alpha, whole brain synchrony, alpha-theta
training, "good" and "bad" theta, beta training--through slightly
differing lenses, pose the same questions in differing words, and
offer answers or tentative conclusions that, while in differing
words, are in remarkable agreement, harmony or accord. Budzynski,
Hardt, Fehmi, Isaacs, Ochs and F. Holmes Atwater all discuss the
importance of new technology and offer insights into what types
of technology work and what don't, where to place the electrodes
and how to interpret the raw data.  Virtually all of them
emphasize the importance of the right treatment protocol to
attain desired results, and offer invaluable descriptions and
insights into various protocols, ranging from alpha/theta
training for addictions to beta training for attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder. 

Most of the articles in this special EEG issue of MEGABRAIN
REPORT and the one which will follow it come right from the
cutting edge of current EEG research, and will be thought
provoking and stimulating (and in some cases startling) to
scientists, therapists and other health professionals. Much of
the information they contain is fresh, eye-opening, and is
presented here for the first time. It is also, we believe,
extremely practical. It is our hope that this special issue may
serve as a catalyst and a stimulus to therapists, educators,
counselors, researchers, and other professionals, alerting them
to the revolutionary potentials for enhancing human performance
and well-being through EEG feedback, and providing the basic
practical information needed to take the first steps toward
incorporating the EEG feedback into their practice.

But of course many of us are fascinated by this work and by
brainwaves (both other peoples' and our own) not as
professionals, but as individuals who want to learn more about
ways we can become stronger, healthier and happier and take
greater control over our emotions, states of consciousness, and
our lives. And so, we have worked with the contributors to be
sure these articles are written in language that is clear,
jargon-free, down to earth and accessible to non-scientists. And,
as an introduction for non-professionals, we first present "The
Brainwave Investigation," a short summary of the historical
background and some of the central issues and discoveries of EEG
feedback, and brief sketches of the work of many of the leading
EEG explorers, whose articles consitute the rest of this
extraordinary issue and the one which follows.
								--Michael Hutchison

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