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Putting Biofeedback Into Sharper Focus

Developments to Watch


For years, biofeedback systems have helped people learn to relax, lower their blood pressure, and cope with pain. With a computer and other gear collecting and displaying physiological data, individuals learn to alter their internal state by force of mind. Subjects know they're approaching a goal when a circle on the computer screen grows larger. But it is hard to achieve the same result without the gear, since people have trouble conjuring up a circle that changes size.

Enter Mindscope Inc. in Meadville, Pa. To give biofeedback sessions a more lasting effect, its system replaces the circle with video clips stored on a Pioneer laser-disk player. When a subject is close to the goal, footage of waves crashing on rocks appears in sharp focus. Move away from the goal, and the image gets progressively out of focus. The advantage, Mindscope officials say, is that nature scenes on video are easier than the circle to recall, and thus give the computer-run sessions a greater carryover effect. EDITED BY EMILY T. SMITH

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