Jul 112012

Today was much better. My muscle tension (EMG) was way down from yesterday and even down from last week. If it began to bounce back up to the 2.0 mark during one of the biofeedback screens, I’d remind myself to straighten my neck, and for the most part, that worked to drop it closer to 1.5. One would think deep breathing would affect EMG. Not for me. However, it seems to affect the key frequency: the gamma brainwave. The sweet spot for deep breathing having a positive effect on my gamma brainwave output seems to be six breaths per minute or close to it but not lower.

I think the other reason today was better was why I’m starting with two sessions per week in the first place: the kickstarter effect.

Today I didn’t feel like my brain was straining so hard as yesterday although I did have a concentration headache under the CZ electrode during a couple of the screens. I also experienced the relaxing Ahhh effect of my perceptual awareness opening up during the second screen.

Interestingly, I could really see the positive effect of the parasympathetic response on my gamma brainwaves. Deep breathing induces the parasympathetic system to engage (and so balance the sympathetic or fight and flight system), and the HRV screens are all about focussing on the breath. The parasympathetic response seems to be associated with gamma brainwaves and perhaps the GABA neurotransmitter in a way I don’t understand (but does anyone?).

You’ll notice in the results below that the trainer had me do an HRV (heart rate variability) screen with eyes closed before the final biofeedback screen instead of finishing off with HRV. That’s because she wanted to refresh my brain. Eyes closed means a break from all visual information; HRV means centring myself on my breath, on my body in order to take a break and renew my energy levels. It only takes three minutes. She told me to go to my happy place. Not sure I have one, but I did count during inhale and exhale and did focus on the pattern of the music (all the screens have associated music), which was pleasant for me. I’m not sure how well it worked in terms of results below, but I was definitely more focussed right from the start when I did the sailboat racing screen for the second time. The feedback screens today were: bowling, plane, and sailboat racing.

Today, my trainer measured my skin temperature. For some reason the French Canadian company that makes the software only shows the temp in Fahrenheit units! Imagine that, French Canadians using the old, unscientific measurement units of the hated English. Sheesh. Anyway, it was slightly below normal body temperature. And though it went up with deep breathing, it did drop a tad twice right at the end. It would be very nice if brain biofeedback at the gamma brainwave frequency stabilized my thermoregulatory system and allowed me to feel normal, to not feel like I’m burning up all the time.

My heart rate was thankfully lower than yesterday, almost getting down to 100 beats per minute.

As usual, I was tired and sleepy after, although it hit me a little later than yesterday. But I was not hungry! No sudden appetite walloping me in the gut like yesterday. I did eat half a Simply Bar anyway because my neurons had worked hard and must’ve been in need of fuel.

Today’s results, in which I began at my previously-highest achieved result and increased it to almost 1.0 during the second HRV with eyes closed screen:

Date Baseline HRV EC HRV Fdbk 1 Fdbk 2 Fdbk 3 Fdbk 4 Fdbk 5 HRV EC
27 Jun 0.83 0.88 0.90 0.90 0.91
4 Jul 0.85 0.90 0.91 0.94 0.898 0.90 0.84
10 Jul 0.85 0.92 0.89 0.86 0.84 0.86 0.83 0.86 0.90
11 Jul 0.95 0.94 0.86 0.88 0.93 0.95 HRVEC