Postscript: Retrospect and Prospect

  • William A. Greene


In the beginning the controversy engulfing biofeedback centered around the two basic types of conditioning, Pavlovian and instrumental. Kimmel (1974) outlines that history. In essence, the position was that certain responses are amenable to learning by one mechanism, namely Pavlovian, while the other responses are modifiable by instrumental conditioning. Considerable argument and theory went into supporting the view that glandular and visceral responses were learnable under the Pavlovian (Pavlov, 1928) mode while responses mediated by the somatic nervous system, that is, those responses of the striated musculature, were modifiable by instrumental learning (Thorndike, 1913). Kimmel points out in his history that with the success of Lisina (Razran, 1961) in the Soviet Union in training human subjects to control the vasoconstrictive response via instrumental learning, the ground was laid for other investigators to attempt a reward procedure for modifying not only the response of blood vessels but many other responses of a visceral-vegetative nature, for example, heart rate, galvanic skin activity, and salivation. Among the pioneers in this work are found Kimmel and Hill (1960), Greene (1966), Miller and DiCara (1967), and Shapiro, Crider, and Tursky (1964). In a recent article appearing in the new Encyclopedia of Psychology,Greene (1984) indicates that the stimulus for development of biofeedback came from four different areas. The first was the control of autonomic responses. The question that arose earlier in the history of biofeedback was whether autonomically mediated responses could be conditioned by providing rewards and/or feedback; that is, could heart rate be increased or decreased by providing the subject with information about his or her heart rate. It immediately became obvious that if such learning took place, there was the possibility of extending these techniques into the therapeutic area.


Instrumental Learning Instrumental Conditioning Biofeedback Training Golf Swing Feedback Training 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • William A. Greene
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Applied Physiology and Human Performance, School of Health Sciences, Psychology DepartmentEastern Washington UniversityCheneyUSA

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