Aug 212012

What’s the diff between a treatment like cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) and what I’m doing now? Between a psychological therapy and gamma brain biofeedback or neurofeedback?

I was trying to explain this yesterday to a therapist, how gamma brain biofeedback has improved my mood because I feel more competent. That’s what CGT does, she explained. But it’s not the same, I replied.

My brain has been feeling fragmented, with skills like reading, attention, memory, processing speed all operating at different levels as they improve in fits and leaps at different times and speeds. In addition, everything takes conscious thought (though gradually that has lessened over the years), like being able to go up and down stairs without pausing to regain a sense of balance or “reset” perception, like walking myself through the steps of making oatmeal every single morning, like brushing my teeth, etc.

After gamma biofeedback, going down the subway stairs is much less effort-full and no longer requires me to pause to reset my perception of the steps left to negotiate. My ability to see and perceive has improved enough that confusion is banished or at least diminished dramatically. And the fragmented parts of my brain seem to have come together in a cohesive whole. I may still read at a different level than I write, but they now feel like they belong together, like my cognition is knitting them — and other skills — together.

When you can think more easily, see and perceive better, your mood jumps up and claps in delight.

It’s also easier to do things when you don't have to think through every step and just do them. And when that happens, your sense of competence improves — not from learning how to do something and executing it successfully — which certainly works — but from improving the way your neurons communicate physiologically and in much less time.

That’s the question: Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? What comes first: the way your neurons talk to each other or learning competence in a given skill?

The thing is with gamma brain biofeedback, it isn't just one skill and thus one competence being mastered at a time, it's the entirety of your general sense of competence — in everything. All at once.

You think better, you feel better, and life becomes less confusing, less hard, less harsh (at this point in my treatment, just for awhile at its peak, then diminishes a bit until the next session as the effect is not permanent yet).

Today’s results (there was no time to do final HRV screen):

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
8 Aug 1.04 0.99 0.95 0.970 0.973 0.99
15 Aug 0.95 0.97 0.98 0.93 0.94 0.92
21 Aug 0.96 0.94 0.98 0.91 0.93