Biofeedback

Biofeedback lab in the Cedarville psychology department

In the spirit of real-world experience, the psychology department is teaming up with the pharmaceutical science department for a collaborative, student-driven research experiment. Photo credit: Scott Huck/Cedarville University

by Public Relations

March 3, 2011

Having up-to-date equipment is essential to remain competitive in the professional world, and Cedarville University is making sure its students are prepared. Using their new biofeedback lab, the psychology department is giving their students a first-hand look at tools they’ll be using in graduate school and, later, in their careers.

The term “biofeedback” was coined in 1969 to refer to a type of training or therapy that has become helpful for teaching self-regulation skills to patients with stress-related disorders. This involves monitoring physiological processes, such as heart rate, muscle tension, respiration, skin temperature and brain wave activity. Sensitive equipment amplifies and converts these physiological responses into meaningful information, usually a tone or visual display that is “fed back” to the person undergoing therapy. The person can then use this information to learn a more adaptive response to environmental events.

Purchased in summer 2010, this new biofeedback lab allows Cedarville students to practice using the equipment safely and effectively and allows them to facilitate research that involves measuring physiological processes. While earlier physiological monitoring systems had slower response times and a plethora of wires, this newer, smaller system is battery-powered, wireless, and gives nearly instant feedback for more efficient physiological monitoring.

“Research is fundamental to what we do,” says Milton Becknell, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the psychology department. “And you need state-of-the-art equipment if you want to produce responsible research.”

In the spirit of real-world experience, the psychology department is teaming up with the pharmaceutical science department for a collaborative, student-driven research experiment.

“Our prepharmacy students are required to do a research project as a part of their coursework,” says Elisha Injeti, Ph.D., director of research and development and assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Cedarville. “The idea here is to introduce our students to an active learning method through this project.”

The students will be looking at how caffeine affects cardiovascular function. Although studies about caffeine’s effects have been done before, the students will be focusing on the rate of physiological change that occurs when caffeine is consumed.

Research began in early February and will be completed in time for the students to present their findings at Cedarville’s annual Research and Scholarship Symposium on April 13. The symposium allows students and faculty from the University’s diverse academic fields the opportunity to introduce audiences to their research projects through oral and visual presentations.

This collaboration between the departments reflects a growing trend in team-based health care. “Instead of treating the body separate from the mind,” says Amanda Burger, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, “health care professionals are realizing the connection between the mind and body and are working to treat them together.”

Though Cedarville’s primary use for the biofeedback lab will be research, familiarity with both the system and with cross-discipline collaboration will prepare students well for the future.

“With this system, we’re giving students hands-on experience with state-of-the-art equipment,” adds Becknell. “It will provide a foundation for more advanced training later for those interested in biofeedback therapy and the skills necessary to conduct research, interpret the data and think critically about their conclusions. We’re not concerned with merely teaching students how to use the equipment and collect data but with teaching them how to think so they can adapt to a changing world.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University attracts 3,200 undergraduate, graduate, and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at www.cedarville.edu.

More Information

Department of Psychology

School of Pharmacy