Jul 312012

Today was a little different from my normal gamma brainwave biofeedback session. We did one neurofeedback screen — the hardest one — after the usual opening HRV ones. But then my trainer removed my temp and heart rate sensors, I opened my novel-in-progress, she started up a screen with music off, and I began revising a chapter while the screen recorded my brainwaves. Took me 28 minutes. At the 10-minute mark, I began fatiguing and told her. It was nothing unusual, I just hadn't realised before it begins so early in the revising process.

My trainer tried to have me deep breathe with eyes closed to recover some energy, but it took me out of the story, and it was difficult enough trying to get into the story and revising with someone sitting next to me.

My trainer told me afterwards that she was trying to distract me by going back and forth into the other room (like mimicking real-world conditions) but I actually found her sitting quietly behind and to the side of me the worst. While I'm trying to decide on a better word (sans my trusty thesaurus or Google), I’m also wondering if she’s reading my stuff, worrying over what’s she thinking about it, and how my stuff sucks. Well, the last is not that unusual. Still, it’s worse when someone — even a non-judgemental someone — is sitting next to you.

The purpose of today’s change of pace was to see how my brain performs while I’m working, that is, writing. Do I tune out? How much power do my gamma brainwaves lose? How well do I breathe? How will I tolerate a different environment with lots of distractions? Those were the questions they wanted answered. I would’ve liked to have seen my heart rate but that’s impossible when I need to type (the heart rate monitor is strapped to the thumb).

My trainer was very pleased with my performance. She had thought I’d quit after five minutes under those conditions. Nope, that's not me. I have a chapter to revise, I revise it, the whole of it. So my tolerance for a disturbing environment is apparently quite high.

Additionally, my alpha and theta brainwaves were not too high or too low. Let’s see if I have this right: if alpha is too high, creativity stays in the mind. Everyone is creative in their heads: the trick is to get it out of the head and onto paper (or the computer screen). To do that, theta has to be down and, I think, alpha not overly high.

My EMG (muscle tension) went up, as expected, as did my gamma naturally but not as much. The ratio of gamma to EMG dropped. That was also expected, but my trainer was surprised at and very happy with the final number because she had thought it would drop more than it did.

The one question I have and am not sure of the answer: how good was my work? Did I revise as well as I would in my writing environment, or am I going to have to revise my revision? I suspect the latter. Bummer.

So now we have a baseline. The question will be that after more biofeedback training, will I perform better, will I be able to translate increased gamma into the real world?

The other thing of note is my ratio is down today during the HRV and neurofeedback screens. Again. I am not happy. I will have to think about why the drop.

The results:

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
17 Jul 0.91 0.97 1.05 1 0.94 0.96 0.97
18 Jul 0.97 0.99 0.97 1.05 0.93 0.94
25 Jul 0.96 1 1.03 1.02 1.01 0.97 1.02
27 Jul 1.08 0.91 0.96 0.88 0.957 0.962
31 Jul 0.97 0.90 0.94 0.99 Revising
Novel 28min