A brief history of brainwave research

The history of brainwave research begins in the late 19th century when the existence of brainwaves was discovered in animals  by 33 year old British scientist Richard Caton.  In 1912 the first depiction of brainwave data was produced by the Russian physiologist Pravdich-Neminski, he named this an ‘electrocerebrogram’.

12 years later in 1924, German neurologist Hans Berger collected the first brainwave data from live humans using scalp electrodes. He noticed synchronised waves across the brain at a frequency of 10Hz which he named ‘alpha’ waves. He then went on to discover desycnronised and more local patterns between 15 and 20Hz and gave those the name ‘beta’ waves. The word ‘Electroencephalogram’ became used to describe the data produced by his research and was shortened to EEG. Berger produced the first EEG amplifier in order to collect this data and thus the field of neurological study was born.

It was a little over 10 years before his work became scientifically recognised, but after the publication of his first paper in 1928 entitled “Electroenkephalogram des Menschen”, other scientists and medical professionals around the world also began to study EEG.

In 1958 Joseph Kamiya, a lecturer at the University of Chicago, with the help of a research student, was able to prove that it was possible for an individual to learn to control their production of alpha waves when provided with information produced by the EEG.

However it was not until 1965 that the benefits of being able to control these waves became apparent. Barry Sterman, a lecturer at UCLA performed some research on the production of SMR brainwaves in cats in response to a reward of food. This group of cats were later proven to have a higher resistance to epileptic seizures than their non-trained counterparts, and the field of neurofeedback had now gathered enough momentum for research to begin with human subjects.