Apr 152014

Assessment week. Instead of doing a standard 30-second assessment at the start of the biofeedback portion of my session, I did three minutes like during gamma training. However, unlike the gamma training assessment, where I just sat there while the computer recorded my brainwaves and my trainer went off to work on paperwork, she stayed to watch my eyes. She had to mark off every eye blink so that at the end of the recording they have one minute of clean brainwave recording unaffected by eye blinks (they’re little muscle movements that affect the brainwaves’ recording).

Before that we did 10 minutes of tDCS, and I had an Oprah Ah-Ha moment. Or maybe I’d had it before and forgotten. Anywhoo, we were looking at the precuneous and the insula. I read out loud what they do, and we discussed their function and how they were injured in me. (If I’m going to work on my Wernicke’s Area, might as well make it interesting and relevant to me.)

The insula is a deep portion of the brain anatomy that I know from the ADD Centre’s EEG recordings of me was injured. The question is: how? When we think of coup-contracoup injuries, we think of the forward and back surfaces of the brain going splat against the jagged inner surfaces of the skull. And only them being injured. But then I realized it’s like one of those slow-motion movies of a ball hitting a wall. First, the surface hits, then the ball compresses as the kinetic energy from being propelled forward moves all the molecules in the ball forward until one by one they’re stopped by the wall before the law of equal and opposite reaction kicks in, and the ball shoots off the wall in the opposite direction, expanding in reaction to the compression.

So it is with the brain.

The surface of the prefrontal lobes hits, splats, and the rest of the brain behind it — the entire structure I’d hazard — compresses. That compression must injure structures, axons, and blood vessels throughout the brain.

But it gets worse.

The brain rebounds off the front inside surface of the skull, probably stretches out a bit, and very quickly its hind surface splats against the back inside surface of the skull. And now compression occurs in the opposite direction. And then for me, the whole thing was repeated twice more, once or twice along a slightly different axis as I turned my head after the first car rear-ended us. Diffuse injury is right.

Anyway, very interesting neuroscientifically. But I feel a bit sick. So if you don’t mind, I think I’ll go suck on some chocolate and talk to some friends.

Oh yeah, before I do, one more new (re-remembered?) piece of info: when a memory gets triggered during a biofeedback screen, like it did with me today during the second screen, it will increase busy brain and make my heart go flip-flip, making the HRV scores go completely out of whack. Even if I hadn’t told my trainer about what memory surfaced, she’d have seen its effect. No hiding the kinds of emotions and thoughts you’re having or the fact your stress is rising. Turns out that talking about it after the screen is done is good, but it still takes awhile for the emotions to process out, longer than a thee-minute brain biofeedback screen. And so the next screen’s heart, busy brain, and delta-theta results are even worse. She’ll discount them knowing what happened — another good reason to share the memories or triggers no matter how awful they are. This week’s was not as bad as some other’s, but a downer nonetheless. Now, where’s that chocolate.