Aug 072012

After I discussed my recent results with them, the ADD Centre has changed up my training. As my trainer put it, after seeing how I did after the first couple of screens: you do better if we’re not nice. (Well, everyone at the Centre has always been exceptionally nice to me, but I knew what she meant!) Making things easy for me cognitively speaking never works well. Not in school, not in biofeedback training either apparently. But boy did I need a nap afterwards!

Instead of a 30-second assessment, we’ll now do three minutes. It is harder but provides a reliable data set in addition to seeing the true state of my baseline (instead of just a small snapshot).

Then instead of doing two three-minute HRV or Heart Rate Variability screens, one with eyes closed, I’ll now do ten minutes, eyes open, so that I can follow the breathing prompt set at 5.7 breaths per minute (seems to be my optimum rate to increase gamma power). It is harder to deep breathe continuously for ten minutes than doing two three-minute sessions with a break in between. But at about the five minute mark, I began to relax. And at almost the eight minute mark, my mind opened up and my vision sharpened. So tis worth it.

We began gamma brainwave training with the bowling screen. I asked her to increase the muscle tension (EMG) difficulty by decreasing the max threshold for EMG, over which the bowling ball would stop moving (if I exceeded it). I wanted to drive my muscle tension down and couldn't do that with a too-easy max threshold.

After the bowling screen, we added another new thing. We did that because we're concerned that my recent increased stress (like I didn’t have enough before) is affecting the results. And so they want to see if introducing a stress-relieving activity will improve my gamma wave results. They know it will reduce muscle tension and theta waves. We followed that with one more brain biofeedback screen, the plane, and finished up with four minutes of HRV. To my trainer’s surprise, the new activity not only dropped theta waves and EMG but also my heart rate, which was again high today — one would think I had drunk an entire pot of coffee. But it didn't increase my gamma brainwaves, both during the activity or in the plane screen afterwards. It's early days yet though. We need to do this a few times before knowing for sure one way or the other.

I am to do the stress-busting activity every day for about a half-hour a day. I need to find a notebook to do that. I must have a spare one floating around my place or maybe I’ll use my iPad…

Oh, and the name of this activity is — SMIRB!


Stop My Irritating Ruminations Book. More on this simple stress-releasing method in another post when I learn it properly, but the Drs. Thompson describe it in their chapter in Principles and Practice of Stress Management, Third Edition.

The results (EC=eyes closed; unless specified, HRV screens done with eyes open):

Date Baseline HRV EC HRV Fdbk 1 Fdbk 2 Fdbk 3 HRV
27 Jun 0.83 0.88 0.90 0.90 0.91
4 Jul 0.85 30s 0.90 0.91 0.94 0.898 0.90 0.84 EC
10 Jul 0.85 30s 0.92 0.89 0.86 0.84 0.86 0.90 EC
17 Jul 0.91 30s 0.97 1.05 1 0.94 0.96 0.97 EC
25 Jul 0.96 30s 1 1.03 1.02 1.01 0.97 1.02 EC
3 min 10 min Fdbk 1 SMIRB Fdbk 3 HRV
7 Aug 0.85 0.949 0.95 0.89 0.93 0.92