Futurehealth Winter Brain, Optimal Functioning & Positive Psychology and StoryCon Meeting

Jan 19-22, 2007 Palm Springs, CA  Pre-Conference Courses Jan 15-18        

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Siegfried Othmer

Siegfried Othmer

Siegfried Othmer has been active in neurofeedback for more than twenty years, through instrumentation development, clinical research, and the conduct of professional training courses.

The EEG Institute
22020 Clarendon #305
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
(818) 373-1334

EEG Foundations Course #375):  Brain Models Underlying Neurofeedback: An Overview 

The objective of this talk is to give an overview in several areas. The first task is to present some basic models of brain function that support the case for neurofeedback. Secondly, the basic approaches to neurofeedback will be classified, yielding further implications for brain models. Thirdly, the attempt will be made to connect the principal neurofeedback approaches with the standard formulations of psychopathology in terms of classical disorders and of neurophysiological failure modes. Finally, the case will be made for a systems perspective on disorders of disregulation, with neurofeedback and biofeedback constituting a comprehensive self-regulation remedy.

Plenary #376):  Empathy: A Network Perspective 

The emergence of altruism, a puzzle to evolutionary biology, can be understood as a natural concomitant of the emergence of empathy. The latter in turn can be understood in the language of networks. By analogy to the mapping of our external sensory environment into our inner experience through dynamical representations in our neuronal networks, the emotional experience of the other can be brought into our own emotional awareness. The neurophysiological mechanisms of emotional responding are trainable through neurofeedback, with obvious implications for criminality and the personality disorders in particular, and for disorders of attachment in general.




EEG Foundations Course #375):  Brain Models Underlying Neurofeedback: An Overview

Following on Rob Kallís historical introduction it is appropriate to give another kind of overview or synthesis relevant to the present moment. First we will discuss relevant models of brain function that give us a vantage point for understanding neurofeedback. This will include top-down or integrated models as well as bottom-up models that constrain brain models at the basic building-block level of neuronal function.

A point of contact then needs to be made with the canonical disorders, and with classification into the principal regulatory systems. Finally there are also the phenomenological models in which both normal function and dysfunction are revealed in various EEG phenomenology.
We will then review the current proliferation of neurofeedback techniques as an evolutionary process of speciation, to help us determine the critical factors that account for such divergences. We can walk backwards from these data back to brain models. A classification of the principal approaches to neurofeedback will be presented.
Our next task will be to connect the phenomenology of neurofeedback with the above classical understandings of psychopathology, i.e. in terms of diagnostic categories and in terms of failure modes of specific cognitive, affective, and other functions.
The discussion will lead us to consider a more integrated, systems perspective on disorders of disregulation, for which neurofeedback and biofeedback are offered as the essential remedies. In this model, disregulation is the core issue being addressed, and neurofeedback constitutes the remedy that most closely targets the defined problem.
When biofeedback and neurofeedback are combined with biochemical remedies that target the biochemical/endocrinological/immunological dimension of disorders of disregulation, a comprehensive remedy for a variety of intractable psychopathologies may be at hand.


Plenary #376):  Empathy: A Network Perspective

The emergence of altruism has been a puzzle to biologists and to evolutionary theorists.
The problem comes from defining self-interest too narrowly. The network model of affect regulation allows for an organic description that breaks the bounds of the self and includes the other as part of our own complete neurophysiological makeup. This property of networks has an existence which is not entirely contingent on the other, for indeed it survives the departure or loss of the other.

This topic takes us back to the original objective Joe Kamiya pursued in his early studies with alpha wave activity: the neurophysiological correlates of man acting as a social being. Strange that more emphasis has not been placed on the study of man in relationship from the neurophysiological perspective.

Neurofeedback, in its most ground-breaking applications, can be seen as establishing the neurophysiological basis for the emergence of empathy and of altruism. Successful training will see it emerge quite naturally, even without invocation of psychodynamic therapies. This supports the view that empathy is part of our essential makeup and not an artifact of upbringing or of culture. It is, rather, the absence of empathy that requires a causal explanation.

Neurofeedback, in its application to the domain of affect regulation, can be seen as organizing the personís relationship to self, and the awareness of hitherto unavailable aspects of the self. Concomitant with the emergence of a more wholesome self comes a fuller capacity for relationship. This is a concurrent process, not a sequential one. The discovery of self occurs in concert with the discovery of the other, which is also the case when affect regulation occurs through normal early-childhood developmental processes.

Because neurofeedback can readily be done without explicit focus on character flaws, it represents an ideal approach to issues of affect regulation in which the person may not perceive or acknowledge a shortcoming. This has particular implications for criminality, addictions, and the characterological disorders. None of these can be fully understood absent a model of attachment. The network model is proposed as a natural way to represent the emergence of the capacity for attachment.

Recent developments in neurofeedback have made particular strides in the management of disorders of attachment. An accompanying model is therefore of interest.


Contact Info:

Siegfried Othmer Ph.D.
22020 Clarendon St
Woodland Hills,, California  91367

phone: (818) 373-1334
cell: (818) 631-9209
fax: (818) 373-1331


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