Internal focus as a subset of attentionThis study was done to gather evidence on internal focus of attention as it relates to voluntary production of alpha brain wave rhythm.Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, 1972.Drs. Frederick J. Bremner and F. Moritz.Results: There was a relationship demonstrated between the onset of alpha rhythm in the EEG, the subject's unique subjective feeling, and the subject's verbal response that he or she was at a particular state of attention.Frederick J. Bremner and F. MoritzTrinity University, San Antonio, Texas This study was supported by the Mind Science Foundation, Los Angeles, California, and the authors express their appreciation to Mr. Jose Silva for his participation in the experiment.Abstract This report attempts to marshal more evidence on internal focus of attention in humans. The theoretical model used capitalizes on changes in EEG states as the dependent variable and a verbal command of the experimenter to start Alpha generation as the independent variable, in order to predict internal focus of attention.In a previous publication (Bremner, et al., 1972) it was suggested that internal focus was subset of attention and this subset was definable by certain antecedent conditions and certain characteristic EEG changes. The EEG changes were the generation of Alpha rhythm triggered by stimuli used as independent variables. This previous study was vulnerable to criticism, since Hart had reported (1968) that some Ss left to themselves in a dimly lit quiet room for several minutes will increase their Alpha production. It was reasoned, however, that if S could start and stop the generation of Alpha frequencies simultaneously with some signal from the experimenter this would satisfy the question of spurious appearance of Alpha frequencies as reported by Hart. If in addition this initiation of Alpha rhythm was related to S s verbal report of being internally focused it would provide collateral evidence in support of an internal focus subset.MethodSubjects: Ten men and women previously trained to generate Alpha rhythm served as subjects. Some of these were those used in the earlier experiment (Bremner, et al., 1972); nevertheless, all of the Ss reported having considerable experience in generating Alpha and conditioned deep relaxation as well as having had some experience with psychic exercises.Apparatus: A Beckman type T electroencephalograph was used. Electrodes were stainless steel, attached subcutaneously over the verte and occipital areas. EEG data were visually monitored as well as tape recorded. Additionally, a microphone hooked into the tape deck was supplied to the S so that his verbal account of his experience could be tape recorded. A Digital Equipment Corporation logic programmer was arranged to indicate a binary number on the record. The S s face and upper torso were monitored with a closed-circuit television camera. All data were recorded on an 8 track Ampex Sp 300 Analog tape deck.Procedure: Each S filled out a protocol sheet asking for such information as last use of alcohol or drugs, history of epileptic seizures, and previous experience with hypnosis or deep relaxation techniques. In addition, each S was required to sign a statement consenting to participate in the experiment and asserting that the nature and purpose of the procedure had been explained to him. Each S was told to generate Alpha by whatever method he was accustomed to using. A baseline run lasting approximately 5 minutes was made with S s eyes closed. Ten minutes more or less were spent in what can be best described as ESP exercises (Silva Psychorientology; McKnight, 1972) in order for the S to establish a point of reference for Alpha generation. The Ss were then asked to generate Alpha upon verbal command of the experimenter while their eyes were closed. When in the opinion of the experimenter enough EEG data indicated S was indeed generating Alpha, approximately 30 seconds later S was given the command to “stop Alpha.”The start-stop command was given until the experimenter felt S was adequately demonstrating his ability and the record was sufficiently artifact free. The S was then given the instruction to "open eyes" and the same start-stop procedure was continued. None of the Ss in this study evidenced difficulty generating Alpha; however, some could not always cease Alpha production upon command, especially when their eyes were closed. Total time in the chamber for the entire procedure was approximately 45 minutes.ResultsThe results of the study are presented in Figures IV and V. Although the study was originally designed so that the data could be spectrally analyzed, the contrast between Alpha and non Alpha was so well defined the experimenters felt that statistical analysis was unnecessary. Figure IV contains the data for 4 Ss with their eyes closed. The S symbol on the record (see Figure IV) indicates the start command while the T (terminate) indicates the command to stop. Note the contrast between the sawtoothed structure of the Alpha and the decreased amplitude of the record following the command to terminate. Figure V contains data for a set of 5 Ss, 3 Ss with eyes closed and 2 Ss P8 and T with their open (see Figure V). It is interesting to note that S T9 with his eyes open has several seconds lag after the start command before beginning to generate Alpha rhythm. This was consistent in all trials with this S with eyes open. It was demonstrated by S 5 with eyes closed, and was fairly characteristic of this S. It was also occasionally demonstrated by some of the other Ss.The verbal report of all of the above Ss was that they were in a particular recognizable attentional state. All but one of the above Ss were able to predict when they were generating Alpha and when they were not. In other words, the Ss could say "start" and "stop" and the record would look the same as Figures IV and V.DiscussionThe results given above would indicate that at least for this group of Ss the generation of alpha rhythm is not spurious. Thus this group of Ss is less vulnerable to the kind of error pointed out by Hart (1968).The lag time for some Ss is very interesting, but the authors can find no ready explanation of why recruiting takes so long in these Ss. Nevertheless, there was a relationship between the onset of Alpha rhythm in the EEG, the subject s unique subjective feeling, and the subject s verbal response that he was at a particular state of attention we choose to call the internal focus subset.
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