Serendipity, EEGs, Cats and Rocket Fuel
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- Fred on May 20, 2012 inNeurofeedback

Susan Petersen, L.P.C., Therapist, Neurofeedback Specialist and Practitioner

Neurofeedback, or as some call it EEG Biofeedback, has proven helpful for treatment of seizures, Attention Deficit, Autism, Migraines, Depression, Post Traumatic Stress and Dissociation. Effective treatment of the nerve disorders, including those suffering from exposure to traumatic events, came about from an accidental and little known discovery. Such serendipity healing as the word describes itself, brings to mind a serene individual going along and by accident, stumbling onto a fortunate discovery. Yet, many of the world’s greatest inventions happened just that way.

One of the most famous was in 1928. While on vacation for two weeks Alexander Fleming left out a pile of bacteria-contaminated petrie dishes. Upon returning and cleaning up, he noted that one of the dishes, covered with mold and bacteria, had bacteria that was not thriving where it was growing near the mold. In time this seemingly trivial event led to the development of lifesaving penicillin and changed the world.

In the 1960’s another serendipitous and significant scientific event occurred though unfortunately, few have heard of it. Astronauts in the Apollo space missions were experiencing serious and perhaps lethal physical ailments during their flights. It was thought the rocket fuel, momomethylhydrazine (MMH), was the culprit.

In order to test this theory on the effects of MMH, NASA asked scientists to donate some of their laboratory cats. Exposure to the rocket fuel produced seizures and proved lethal for most cats. Curiously, there was a group who survived the experiments.

It just so happened the surviving cats had been involved in brain wave experiments conducted by Berry Sternam, a scientist from UCLA. In order to receive a reward of milk and chicken broth they were conditioned to function on a certain brain wave pattern. Evidently, the repeated production or use of this certain brainwave made the animals resistant to seizures.

 Further testing showed that not only could a cat produce certain brainwaves that reduced or eliminated their seizures, but similar procedures worked in humans. Now over fifty years later thousands of people have been helped with this Biofeedback, Neurofeedback or EEG therapy. In times to come and as treatments are further developed, perhaps millions more will benefit because of a serendipitous convergence of EEG’s, cats and rocket fuel.

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