Apr 272013

The biggest complaint people have about LORETA neurofeedback is they’re tired afterwards, my trainer told me. I stared at her. I hadn’t noticed anything different. But then since I’m always tired, I probably wouldn’t have. And, anyway, if you’re working your somnolent brain, it’s bound to be tired.

My cockiness got a real whooping after that. This past week marked a change to the new brain biofeedback regimen. One day I have single-electrode biofeedback, and one day LORETA. You’d think it would be the LORETA that would knock me over. Nope. It was changing that single electrode from CZ (middle top of head) to PZ-O1 (left back, sort of halfway between top of head and bottom of skull and to the left of midline). They had changed the location because CZ was assessed as normal in my EEG back in March, while PZ-O1 was busy taking a permanent break from working. It overproduces alpha waves; that may be why I continue to have trouble reading and learning and with language.

Well. PZ-O1 most certainly did not like being woken up. I probably didn’t have such a problem the first time we tried this location in the first week of April because I had received direct stimulation of the brain via transcranial direct current stimulation. And although it was in the F3-Fp3 position, somehow it helped the training in the PZ-O1 position so that it wasn’t so tiring. This time, there was no stimulation because it had been too much for me. And, as well, we were working on slightly different frequencies than the first time. Now, we will continue to enhance gamma brainwaves while inhibiting alpha waves in the 8-10 Hz range. We want me to continue to produce high-frequency alpha waves; that’s why those aren’t included. We are also monitoring busy brain and brainwaves in the 2-4 Hz range.

My heart rate dropped with each three-minute biofeedback screen, and reading dropped it even more, just like it did in the CZ position. But reading didn’t produce my best gamma output, maybe because this area is directly implicated in my reading issues.

After that session, I was visibly tired to everyone, really thirsty, and starving, and I went to bed very, very early. I have not gone to bed that early in eons. I slept a long time for me.

My second LORETA session was a bit of a kerfuffle because they were using a different machine and hadn’t realized that its DVD player had long since decided to retire. And so instead of watching a DVD, I watched biofeedback AVIs, which loop. I watched a different one for each of the five five-minute screens I did, with the last two being four minutes in length, meaning they only began to loop once. The third and fourth AVIs included text; the former as a short story a la Star Wars intro, the latter as credits. I tired quickly during the first couple of screens. But somewhere in the middle of the third or fourth one, my brain opened up. It was like someone had taken a can opener and let the light in. I continued to feel tired, yet I was alert and brighter. At the end, my trainer looked at the scores while I gazed around the suddenly-to-me-brighter room in wonder. She noted that she’d never seen anyone in the second session steadily increase their scores with each screen. People get  tired, performance drops, scores go down. But not with me. Heh.

When the AVI disappeared during my training screens, it was because the neuronal networks involved in executive function, short-term memory, failure to initiate, and/or word find went down. The word find was particularly noticeable whenever I tried to read the credits in screen 4. The AVI during screen 3 also disappeared like a shot every time it looped to the text and I tried to read it. It had to loop many, many times before I was able to keep it full screen long enough for me to read a sentence here then another sentence in the next loop, and so on.

I asked her about my vision change. I know that brain training will make your vision clearer, things will be sharper, but it was also brighter. It was like someone had turned up the lights. She noted that with LORETA, physical, not just in-the-brain, changes can occur with vision. Mind. Boggled. I was also seeing much more. My field of vision had widened, and I hadn’t realized how narrow it had been. I think this big picture awareness is translating into when I read too.

But in close-up work, it’s like my lens forgot where my focal point is. It’s like it’s saying no, that text is too close, move it farther away, no that’s too far, closer, no, that’s no good either, a little further — would you make up your mind! I felt like screaming. Over 48 hours later, and it began to settle down. The vision and perceptual changes have reverted somewhat to “normal” now. And my sleep sucked after the neurofeedback. It was like skimming on the crests of dreams.

I was hoping to experience normal reading again, like I had the Saturday after the first LORETA session. But nope. This time, I read faster than I could keep up, and I got a concentration head-ache, which I haven’t had in a long time. I did however feel great eagerness to read when I awoke and did start as soon as I could. So I think that was a spurt of initiation — my Go button turned itself on. I also felt quite engaged while watching the first TED video in the Neuroscience iTunes U course. My mind may have wandered once or twice briefly. In eighteen minutes, that’s pretty good.

So week one of the new regimen done. It will continue like this for a little while.