Cognitive and physiologic responses to EMG biofeedback and three types of pseudofeedback during a muscular relaxation task

John P. Hatch, Keith Klatt, Melanie Fitzgerald, Lori Schroeder Jasheway, Johnnie G. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Four groups of normal human subjects were tested for their ability to reduce frontal muscle tension levels during presentation of veridical auditory biofeedback or auditory pseudofeedback. A double-blind methodology was used. Three groups of subjects assigned to the pseudofeedback conditions received a feedback signal that was not contingent on EMG activity but that followed one of three different patterns. One group received a truly random signal, the second received a signal that gradually increased in frequency (apparent failure), and the third received a signal that gradually decreased in frequency (apparent success). Dependent measures included both physiologic (frontal and neck EMG) and subjective reactions to the relaxation task. The different patterns of pseudofeedback did produce reliably different subjective responses, suggesting that the manipulations succeeded in producing unequal nonspecific effects that were unrelated to the feedback contingency specifically. However, these differential subjective effects were not strongly reflected in the physiologic responses since the differences in EMG levels among the four groups did not differ significantly at any stage of training. An analysis of the integrity of the double-blind procedure showed that although experimenters were effectively kept blind to group assignment, subjects' responding suggested a response bias as well as the possibility that the double-blind was breached. The utility of the double-blind methodology in biofeedback experiments is discussed and suggestions for future research are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-425
Number of pages17
JournalBiofeedback and Self-Regulation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1983


  • biofeedback
  • double-blind methodology
  • nonspecific effects
  • placebo effects
  • pseudofeedback
  • relaxation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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