On the Social Psychology of Experiential States Associated with EEG Alpha Biofeeedback Training

  • William B. Plotkin
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 2)


Alpha feedback training involves presenting immediate moment-to-moment information feedback of the strength or density of the EEG alpha rhythm, providing the opportunity, in principle, to learn to increase, maintain, or decrease the strength of this brain rhythm. Of special significance is the observation by some researchers (Brown, 1970; Kamiya, 1968, 1969; Nowlis & Kamiya, 1970) that many persons report entering a quasi-meditational state of consciousness during alpha-enhancement feedback. This state of consciousness, often called the “alpha experience,” is said to be a pleasant, relaxed, and serene state, characterized by a loss of body and time awareness, an absence or dimunition of thought, and “egolessness.” Initially, researchers claimed that the alpha experience was intrinsically and directly associated with enhanced alpha levels, and that the alpha experience was achieved by virtue of enhanced alpha (hence, the name, alpha experience). However, more recently, several researchers have argued that the alpha experience is at least in part a result of certain social psychological variables such as suggestion, the demand characteristics of the experimental setting, expectation, and the degree of experienced success (Beatty, 1972; Lynch & Paskewitz, 1971; Lynch, Paskewitz, & Orne, 1974; Peper, 1971; Plotkin, 1976a, 1976b; Plotkin & Cohen, 1976; Plotkin, Mazer, & Loewy, 1976; Walsh, 1974).


Experienced Success Alpha Rhythm Failure Group Sensory Deprivation Feedback Period 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • William B. Plotkin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ColoradoUSA

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