Although the brain enables us to perceive the external world and our body, it remains unknown whether brain processes themselves can be perceived. Brain tissue does not have receptors for its own activity. However, the ability of humans to acquire self-control of brain processes indicates that the perception of these processes may also be achieved by learning. In this study patients learned to control low-frequency components of their EEG: the so-called slow cortical potentials (SCPs). In particular ''probe'' sessions, the patients (...) estimated the quality of the SCP shift they had produced in the preceding trial. The correspondence between the recorded SCP amplitudes and the subjective estimates increased with training. The ability to perceive the SCPs was related to the ability to control them; this perception was not mediated by peripheral variables such as changes in muscle tonus and cannot be reduced to simple vigilance monitoring. These data provide evidence that humans can learn to perceive the neural activity of their brain. Alternative interpretations are discussed. (shrink)
Psychopathic individuals are characterized by impaired affective processing, impulsivity, sensation-seeking, poor planning skills and heightened aggressiveness with poor self-regulation. Based on brain self-regulation studies using neurofeedback of Slow Cortical Potentials (SCPs) in disorders associated with a dysregulation of cortical activity thresholds and evidence of deficient cortical functioning in psychopathy, a neurobiological approach seems to be promising in the treatment of psychopathy. The results of our intensive brain regulation intervention demonstrate, that psychopathic offenders are able to gain control of their brain (...) excitability over fronto-central brain areas. After SCP self-regulation training, we observed reduced aggression, impulsivity and behavioral approach tendencies, as well as improvements in behavioral-inhibition and increased cortical sensitivity for error-processing. This study demonstrates improvements on the neurophysiological, behavioral and subjective level in severe psychopathic offenders after SCP-neurofeedback training and could constitute a novel neurobiologically-based treatment for a seemingly change-resistant group of criminal psychopaths. (shrink)
The persistence of both inflammatory and neuropathic pain can only be explained when learning processes are taken into account in addition to sensitizing mechanisms. Learning processes such as classical and operant conditioning create memories for pain that are based on altered synaptic connections in supraspinal structures and persist without peripheral input. [coderre & katz; dickenson; wiesenfeld-hallin et al.].