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The New Neurotherapy
on May 10, 2001
This is a well written and interesting story--as far as it goes-- of the development of neurofeedback. However, it is often misleading,incomplete, and inaccurate.
It is misleading because it suggests that a new alternative therapy may cure a multitude of ills, but it plays down the fact that except for some early, mostly animal studies done between 1965 and 1985, there are no well-controlled studies published in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals. Thus, most of the claims one hears in this book are undocumented.
It is incomplete and highly selective because it attributes the origin of the field essentially to one person, taking no note whatsoever of the pioneering work of Black, Fox, Fetz, Rudell, and many others. It also omits any reference to the very important European contributions from Birbaumer and associates. Had they been included, these omissions would have made a better case for Robbins, because unlike most of what he describes, these omitted studies were all published in respected scientific journals.
It is (unintentionally) inaccurate because it showcases undocumented claims by non-scientists, some of which ,if not most of which, are likely to be wrong.It also grossly oversimplifies brain mechanisms.
This anonymous review is by a university scientist whose work was NOT omitted from Robbins' presentation, but who would like to see the field become more mainstream. Robbins has written a good tale--the book reads well--and has attempted to be well-balanced in his presentation, sometimes presenting critiques from within the field. Yet he often promotes undocumented claims uncritically,and oversimplifies things probably because he is a journalist, rather than a scientist, and therefore lacks the experience and training prerequisite to a balanced perspective.