Biofeedback has been used effectively for approximately 40 years as a technique to help individuals learn to control muscle activity, brain waves and certain autonomic nervous system responses such as heart rate and blood pressure.
More recently it has been used to help individuals control constipation and fecal and urinary incontinence.
In the present study, Dr Stern and colleagues from Pennsylvania, USA, used biofeedback of electrogastrographic (EGG) activity to determine the extent to which healthy subjects could increase normal 3 cpm gastric myoelectric activity.
The researchers provided 13 experimental participants with biofeedback of their EGG activity on a computer screen, and the researchers then instructed them to try to make their own EGG signal match a simulated 3 cpm signal that was also present on the screen.
|Experimental participants showed an increased percentage of 3 cpm activity during biofeedback sessions|
|Neurogastroenterology and Motility|
The research team were able to tell the subjects to relax and to heighten their awareness of their stomach activity using various forms of imagery.
The researchers included 13 control participants who did not receive any biofeedback but were otherwise given the same instructions.
The research team found that both groups showed an increase in 3 cpm activity while relaxing.
However, over 4 trials separated by 2-7 days, experimental participants showed an increased percentage of 3 cpm activity during biofeedback sessions, while control participants showed a decrease in 3 cpm activity during the corresponding sessions.
Dr Stern concluded, "We have demonstrated that healthy subjects can increase their normal gastric 3 cpm activity with the use of EGG biofeedback."