The effect of activation versus inhibition of feedback on perceived control of EEG activity

Miriam D. London, Gary E. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This study explores a model in which perceived control is affected by multiple sources of feedback at three different stages of the control sequence - person, response, and outcome. Behavior that enhances feedback is termed activation, while behavior that diminishes feedback is termed inhibition. The study tests the hypothesis that activation at any stage of the sequence leads to greater perceived control than inhibition. Eighty subjects increased or decreased their brain-wave activity (EEG) by making a tone go either on or off, using either an active or a passive strategy. Following 10 60-second trials, subjects rated their perception of control over their EEG activity. The hypothesis that making a tone go on (activation of the outcome) leads to a greater perception of control than making the tone go off (inhibition of the outcome) was confirmed only when subjects decreased their EEG activity. Perceived control was not significantly correlated with actual control, supporting the expectation that they are separately mediated. The results did not support the hypothesis that increasing EEG activity or using an activity strategy would lead to a greater perception of control than decreasing EEG or using a passive strategy. These findings are interpreted as evidence that attention to feedback may be necessary for the predicted bias in perceived control to occur, and that activation and inhibition should be operationalized as the absolute presence versus absence of feedback in testing the hypothesis for the first two stages of control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-278
Number of pages14
JournalBiofeedback and Self-Regulation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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