Biofeedback and Self-regulation

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 131–141 | Cite as

Psychophysics of muscle tension in psychiatric inpatients

  • Paul M. Lehrer
  • Lawrence Goldberg
  • Sergio Levi-Minzi


Twelve psychiatric inpatients and 16 control subjects each took part in a psychophysics experiment in which the method of production was used to study the perception of tension in the frontalis and forearm extensor muscles. Subjects tensed each muscle between 0% and 50% maximum effort, with 25% effort repeated every third trial, and used as a reference stimulus. Patients showed significantly lower correlations between frontalis EMG and percent effort than the control subjects, but no between-groups differences were found for forearm. Correlations were higher for differences between successive trials than for absolute values because of apparent baseline shifts in perception and/or production of muscle tension. The performance among the patients was not correlated with severity of psychiatric symptoms, antipsychotic medication, abnormal movements, or parkinsonian symptoms, although the n was small. Analysis of the regression of EMG on percent effort revealed approximately equal descriptive strength for three functions: a linear relationship, Stevens' power function, and Fechner's law. The implications of these findings for self-regulation therapies are discussed.

Key words

muscle tension electromyogram psychophysics side effects of neuroleptic medication psychiatric inpatients 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Applebaum, K. A., Blanchard, E. G., & Andrasik, F. (1984). Muscle discrimination ability at three muscle sites in three headache groups.Biofeedback and Self-Regulation, 9 421–430.Google Scholar
  2. Baldessarini, R. J. (1977).Chemotherapy in psychiatry. Boston: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Basmajian, J. V., & Blumenstein, R. (1983). Electrode placement in electromyographic biofeedback. In J. V. Basmajian (Ed.),Biofeedback: Principles and practice for clinicians second edition, pp. 363–380. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.Google Scholar
  4. Bayles, G. H., & Cleary, P. J. (1986). The role of awareness in the control of frontalis muscle activity.Biological Psychology, 22 23–35.Google Scholar
  5. Bernstein, D. A., & Borkovec, T. D. (1973).Progressive relaxation training. Champaign, IL: Research Press.Google Scholar
  6. Guy, W. (1976).ECDEU assessment manual for psychopharmacology Revised edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.Google Scholar
  7. Haynes, S. N., Griffin, P., Mooney, D., & Parise, M. (1975). Electromyographic biofeedback and relaxation training in the treatment of muscle contraction headache.Behavior Therapy, 6 672–678.Google Scholar
  8. Overall, J. E., & Gorham, D. R. (1962). The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale.Psychological Reports, 10 799–812.Google Scholar
  9. Sainsbury, P., & Gibson, J. F. (1954). Symptoms of anxiety and tension and accompanying physiological changes in the muscular system.Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 17 216–224.Google Scholar
  10. Sime, W. E., & DeGood, D. E. (1977). Effect of EMG biofeedback and progressive muscle relaxation training on awareness of frontalis muscle tension.Psychophysiology, 14 522–530.Google Scholar
  11. Simpson, G. M., & Angus, J. W. S. (1970). A rating scale for extrapyramidal side effects.Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia, 212, Supplement 1 11–19.Google Scholar
  12. Stilson, D. W., Matus, I., & Ball, G. (1980). Relaxation and subjective estimates of muscle tension: Implications for a centeral efferent theory of muscle control.Biofeedback and Self-Regulation, 5 19–36.Google Scholar
  13. Stevens, S. S. (1951). Mathematics, measurement, and psychophysics. In S. S. Stevens (Ed.),Handbook of experimental psychology pp. 23–35, New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  14. Stevens, S. S. (1958). Problems and methods of psychophysics.Psychological Bulletin, 55 177–196.Google Scholar
  15. Tunis, M. M., & Wolff, H. G. (1954). Studies on headache: Cranial artery vasoconstriction and muscle contraction headache.Archives of General Psychiatry, 71 425–434.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul M. Lehrer
    • 1
  • Lawrence Goldberg
    • 1
  • Sergio Levi-Minzi
    • 1
  1. 1.UMDNJ - Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolUSA

Personalised recommendations