Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mind Control for the Heart

For the most part, your heart rate ratchets up and slows down on its own, without any conscious control on your part. However, an interesting technique called biofeedback can give you the ability to influence automatic body processes like heart rate. In a typical biofeedback session, a trainer hooks you up to specialized equipment that measures something you can’t ordinarily perceive, like brain activity, skin temperature, or muscle tension. The equipment then translates this information into something you can perceive, such as a tone that varies in pitch, a light that varies in brightness, or an image with shifting lines. You then follow a series of mental exercises until you eventually stumble on a technique that causes the right physical change and the corresponding auditory or visual signal. For example, a biofeedback session might measure the activity of a brain region known to influence heart rate. Through trial and error, you can learn how to slightly slow your rate using nothing more than mental power.

The ultimate goal of most biofeedback training is to give you the ability to consciously reduce your reaction to the stresses of ordinary life—for example, damping down a racing heart or a sudden spike in blood pressure—even without the help of the fancy biofeedback equipment. Despite its promise, however, biofeedback hasn’t yet graduated from an experimental curiosity to a truly therapeutic tool.

Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual

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