Neurofeedback as a dance of agency

Jonna Brenninkmeijer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many psychologists and other practitioners have started to use neurofeedback, a biofeedback system that is designed to help people adapt to their brain waves, usually either as a treatment for disorders like ADHD, depression, or as a form of enhancement to achieve 'peak performance'. Although scientific approval of this therapy is lacking, commercial neurofeedback clinics are proliferating across Europe and the United States. In this article, ethnographic material gathered through interviews with practitioners and clients and observations during neurofeedback sessions provides the groundwork for a theoretical analysis of neurofeedback. This account demonstrates that although at first glance neurofeedback appears as a straightforward engagement between the two agents - practitioner and client - and a computer, it is in fact a complex entanglement of collaborating and competing actors. Human and non-human actors together perform a process in which it is unclear which actor is directing the 'treatment'. While it remains unclear if and how the client is cured, restored or enhanced, this article demonstrates that through the process of neurofeedback, a new kind of self - one that is extended with all kind of entities that have emerged during the process - has clearly been brought into being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-163
Number of pages20
JournalBiosocieties
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2013

Keywords

  • brain therapies
  • neurofeedback
  • technologies of the self
  • dance of agency
  • science and technology studies
  • subjectivity
  • EEG-FEEDBACK
  • HYPERACTIVITY
  • IMPULSIVITY
  • ATTENTION
  • EFFICACY
  • SELVES
  • BRAIN

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