The President of AAPB about the Neal Miller Event in San Diego March 2010

We have saved the best for last. For the bulk of the convention, we are going to be focusing primarily on the future of AAPB, discussing new treatments and new technologies. However, our focus on the future does not mean that we are going to forget about AAPB’s past. It’s with great pleasure that I tell you that AAPB, in conjunction with the Claude Bernard Club, is going to conclude the San Diego Convention with a tribute to the centennial of the man who has been rightfully called the father of biofeedback, Neal Miller. Dr. Miller was already a famous psychologist for his work in the 1950’s on learning theory. But in the 1960’s, Miller and his colleagues, including Leo DeCara, conducted a series of experiments on animals in order to determine whether the autonomic (or “involuntary”) nervous system could be volitionally controlled. In a groundbreaking series of articles, Miller and his colleagues demonstrated that responses such as blood pressure, blood flow, cardiac functioning and intestinal activity could to some extent be voluntarily controlled. This led to other researchers demonstrating that humans could control their autonomic functions through operant conditioning, leading the way to biofeedback and other forms of self-regulation as we know it today, and revolutionized mind-body research and practice.
The Neal Miller Centennial Celebration will begin with a dinner in his honor that is open to all members of AAPB. During this dinner, guests will be encouraged to recount their own stories of Neal Miller, who was a long-time member of this society. Following this dinner, we will have four special guest lectures on various aspects of Neal Miller’s life. First, Edgar (“Ted”) Coons of New York University, who was a student of Neal Miller, will be speaking on, “Neal Miller: The Yale Years.” Then Arnon Rolnick, past president of the Israeli Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback and a member of the Board of the Israeli Psychological Association, will speak on, “The Desire for Integration: Miller’s Interest in Psychoanalysis.” This lecture will be followed by Sarah Leibowitz, a neurobiologist who is an associate professor at Rockefeller University and was a post-doctoral student with Neal Miller, who discovered the hormone Leptin. Dr. Leibowitz will be talking about, “Neal Miller: The Rockefeller Years.” Finally, Edward Taub, a past-president of AAPB, and to whom Neal Miller was a primary mentor, will be discussing, “What Psychology as a Science Owes Miller: Examples from Biofeedback and Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy.” Please join us in San Diego for what should be a very exciting program and a great finish to a wonderful convention.



John Arena, PhD

President, AAPB

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