Research: LEHRER and colleagues, UM

Listed in Issue 29


LEHRER and colleagues, UMDNJ-RW Johnson Medical School, Piscataway NJ 08854 USA studied the use of different biofeedback techniques in asthmatic adults.



Biofeedback to increase respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) was compared with EMG and incentive inspirometry biofeedback . Patients were assigned to one of three groups: 1) Waiting List Control (n=5) 2) RSA Biofeedback (n-6) and 3) EMG biofeedback (n=6). Six training sessions were provided to each of the biofeedback groups. For each of the three testing sessions, 5 min respiratory resistance and EKG were obtained prior to and following a 20-min biofeedback session. Additional 5 min epochs of data were gathered at the beginning and end of the biofeedback period, or in the control group, self relaxation.


There were decreases in respiratory impedance were seen only in the RSA biofeedback group, with Traub-Hering-Mayer (THM) waves increasing significantly in amplitude. The participants did not report significantly more relaxation during EMG or RSA biofeedback compared to the control condition. However decreases in pulmonary impedance across groups were associated with increases in relaxation.


These results are consistent with Vaschillo's theory that RSA biofeedback exercises homoeostatic autonomic reflex mechanisms by increasing the amplitude of cardiac oscillations however, deep breathing during RSA biofeedback may be an alternate explanation.


Lehrer P et al. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia versus neck/trapezium EMG and incentive inspirometry biofeedback for asthma: a pilot study. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 22(2): 95-109. Jun 1997.

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