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Are psycho physiological biofeedback techniques effective in the treatment of epilepsy? Discuss with reference to empirical studies.

Epilepsy is a relatively common neurological condition, and is defined by a person having more than one seizure. Anyone can develop epilepsy though it mostly occurs in people who have learning disabilities, and is usually diagnosed either before the age of twenty or after sixty years of age. Epilepsy is thought to occur when signals in the brain misfire, usually faster than normal and in bursts. The misfiring causes the body to have a seizure, which can be classified as either a generalised or partial seizure depending on where in the brain it occurs. A generalised seizure involves the whole brain, whilst a partial seizure originates in one part of the brain. The most customary way of treating epilepsy is by drug treatments that are effective in reducing, or even stopping seizures in the majority of cases. However for those sufferers who do not benefit from drug treatment, other methods of treating epilepsy are available. Although psycho physiological biofeedback techniques are not new, research looking into their effectiveness as an alternative to drug treatment for epileptics has recently become more popular. The development of biofeedback treatments is particularly useful for epilepsy sufferers who have not found drug treatment to be effective for them.

Psycho physiological refers to studies that look at the interactions between the mind and the body, and how the body is functioning in relation to displayed behaviour. Most psycho physiological techniques are non-invasive and usually involve taking recordings from sensors placed on the surface of the skin. Biofeedback is chiefly used to assess brain processes and muscular tension, and can be used to correct irregular physiological functioning. By combining these two techniques an effective method of treatment for disorders such as epilepsy may be developed, without the need for drugs. Typically psycho physiological style sensors are used to assess biofeedback this is then used to teach epileptic participants to recognise behaviours prior to a seizure and try to control them. This is thought to be a technique that could help epilepsy sufferers manage the frequency of their seizures, because of the neurophysiological basis of epileptic seizures. Goldstein (1997) identifies a theory that was developed by Fenwick and Brown (1989; cited in Goldstein, 1997), which suggests that when a seizure occurs two groups of neurons are affected. Group 1 neurons fire continuously at the central point of the seizure, whilst group 2 neurons are proximal and can either fire normally or as the group 1 neuron’s do. Fenwick and Brown (1989; cited in Goldstein, 1997) suggest that because neurons surrounding an

epileptic episode can influence the occurre