Aug 052017

OMG. The brightness, the clarity, the colours popping and sharp are almost as overwhelming as right after my eye surgery. We trained a new area this past week in brain biofeedback.

I haven't yet blogged on my evoke and 19-point qEEG assessment. But the big finding was that once again my precuneus was off the chart in some frequencies. This year it was over four standard deviations above the norm in 16 Hz. This was the first full cap assessment since the eye surgery, and the difference was that the abnormality was bilateral instead of predominantly one sided.

Location, location, location, is what is important, Dr. Lynda Thompson told me, like in real estate. Location is more important than frequency in determining where to treat.

LORETA is the most efficient way to treat the precuneus, a large region of the parietal lobe. And, turns out, the ADD Centre now mostly uses LORETA to treat people with brain injury as it's a network approach, a more suitable way to treat many injured locations all at once instead of one location at a time (changing position every 40 to 60 sessions). Gets quicker results.

But I can't get to Mississauga to do the LORETA nor can I afford it. And the ADD Centre doesn't have the facilities nor enough trained personnel to do it in their Toronto office. This mightily sucks. Trying to cope with all my stressors, managing my health on my own, struggling to keep reading rehab going, plus unable to access what I need (I've known this since 2013 when I had to give up LORETA), is just too overwhelming.

Lynda said single-channel brain biofeedback can work with the precuneus too. She was trying to mollify and give me hope. All is not lost. But I had to give up my reading screen to do that because this time, I'm absolutely adamant I'm not giving up gamma training and they don't have extra space in their schedule to accommodate the additional training.

In the last week of July, for the first time in such a long time, I experienced the happy gamma effect an hour after training. Since November 2016, the gamma training has been swamped by overwork (insane CCAC deadlines to help me write the revised edition of Concussion Is Brain Injury and training my working memory to the edge with Cogmed) and the stress of my neurodoc fucking up my PTSD and grief therapy (because like all the other docs out there, he stuck like glue to old-fashioned views of the brain and brain injury and doesn't collaborate well). I'm having a harder time keeping my EMG down last few months. So in July, I began actively relaxing my jaw. It's succeeding. That plus the work dropping to saner levels, gamma training has a chance to not only keep me going but also pep me up.

I suppose I mayn't be able to access what others can, the LORETA, but I can access something most can't, the gamma, because I can keep my EMG below 2uV.

I'm tired of searching for the bright side though. I'd like the bright side to blind the dark side with light for once.

Anywho, we began to do both enhance-gamma at CZ and inhibit 16-20 Hz at PZ in one one-hour session. PZ accesses the precuneus. Training two locations in one hour is a bit of a sprint-marathon.

It's sort of like 2005 when I used to do two locations sequentially, but back then they were able to give me 1.5 hours.

Anyway, the results made me realize, we can inadvertently test my theory: training gamma first could potentiate other brainwaves and make their training easier and quicker.

Since it’s just my theory, not what the ADD Centre thinks, there's no trainer effect on the results. And I've long since realized my expectations have no effect. Things never happen the way I expect, like this past week.

Gamma training went as usual. Keep deep breathing rhythmic, relax jaw, focus on the visual feedback, look for the letting go feel and when get it, try to stay in that zone for as many seconds as possible.

My brain trainer put both CZ and PZ electrodes on at the start. She had to re-paste the PZ one though because my hot head melted the electropaste. That done, she explained we were inhibiting 16-20 Hz. There is such a thing as bad beta! Still, I worried this unusual training of reducing thinking brainwaves would make my vision worse. When I'd spoken to Lynda, we’d theorized that perhaps there was four standard deviations overactivity of beta because the visual cortex was still rewiring itself after eye surgery. But there apparently could be other reasons: stress (badly treated PTSD and untreated grief plus 2016 social isolation) and/or overwork. Probably both.

Since we don't really know what's going on, we're doing the PZ training as an experiment for a few weeks. And I'm to closely monitor myself and report back. So best way for me to do that is blogging like with the gamma back in 2012/2013.

First neurofeedback screen, we inhibited 16-20 Hz and EMG and enhanced SMR 12-15 Hz. I had no idea what to do to achieve that, so I focused on relaxing my jaw, breathing, and flying the triplane. Oh. My. God. Woozy! Nausea! This was like after the eye surgery but not quite so extreme. Should I stop? No, things like this settle down. My head was heavy, nausea kept on, and then my operated-on eye began feeling worked like after surgery. But no eye pain! About a couple of minutes in or so, the nausea began to lift. I also noticed both displays of equal "weight" in my vision. Much more sense of bilateral like I'd glimpsed shortly after my surgery but which hadn't stayed. Strong 180-degree vision!

But my brain so confused as to how to manage these different parameters. Head felt heavy.

I told my brain trainer. She left it up to me whether to continue to a third screen. Then as I glanced at the display, I couldn't stop exclaiming that the colours were popping.

"Did you hear me? The colours are popping!"

"Yes, I heard you," she laughed, with me.

We moved on to the second neurofeedback screen. Enhance SMR 12-15 Hz and inhibit busy brain 24-28 Hz and EMG. WOW. What a difference! My head felt so light. No nausea. But, uh, kind of too easy.

That was so weird. We change one of the neurofeedback screens during gamma training to inhibit busy brain instead of EMG, but I feel no difference in the amount of work or how my head feels. In fact, the only time my feeling of work and how my head feels change is when we move the electrode position. I've never had such a dramatic change when the electrode stays in place and we change one inhibition parameter.

Was this for real?

Gotta do a third screen to see. The third-screen parameters are the same as for the first screen but instead of a two-display triplane visual feedback, it's one-display bowling ball.

No onset of nausea this time. But that bilateral vision strong again. Colours so bloody vibrant at the end, almost blinding.

When I looked in the bathroom mirror after, I was startled because I saw the entirety of the room behind me in the mirror. I wasn't narrow focused on my face. Whoa.

My brain trainer was excited about the numbers. Unlike gamma training where we focus on what the ratio of gamma to EMG is doing, here we want to see what the absolute numbers are doing. Is 16-20 dropping while SMR going up? Is busy brain going down? And as always what's EMG doing?

Amazingly, even during the second screen when we didn't train it, 16-20 dropped with each screen. My EMG went up only when actively inhibiting 16-20. As I said: work! SMR went down during the first screen. Not good, but I brought it back up. Busy brain was pretty good. But then I've been working to inhibit that at CZ for the last many months.

My brain trainer was astounded at my brain’s quick learning curve. I said that it may prove my theory. Of course, it could just be my plastic brain. Only multi-person robust studies could prove it for sure. But research often begins with a single-subject study.

As I write this as a first draft about 1.5 hours after training, happy gamma is blossoming in me. Phew.

After some food and coffee, I began a short practice walk. Six minutes in, head began to feel challenged, dizzy. Stopped to regroup then feeling OK, set off again. Below are all the effects.

Vanishing point seeing it automatically not having to become aware consciously.

Lighter head.

More energy. Thought I can do walk! Before so damn tired decided just going home right after.

Distracted yet not because I saw things on blind side and read signs and looked long enough to take them in.

Crossed side street sans slowing though truck turning right on opposite corner, car waiting to turn right at my corner, and car waiting to turn left into street. Normally I'd just wait for them all. No hesitation, no fear!!!!!

Next street just crossed it like a normal person.

Head kept turning to blind side. Not sure why. Kept looking at stores and signs on that side. I kept walking with NO balance problems with head fully turned. Got a bit much but couldn't stop it. Weird.

Looked to good side with eyes tracking that way but bad side whole head turned.

Noises behind me not like bombs going off. In fact, barely noticed the quieter ones. The rest I turned my head and tracked with my eyes into the middle distance as if only curious not to also assess for danger (PTSD-like vigilance). Head became challenged and brain tried to keep closing bad eye. Fuck off brain. Use the visual info! It's good for you not just me!! Consuming energy quickly being so aware and looking about and navigating world differently than three hours previously but able to get Walk in anyway.

Taking in visual info is faster. I don't have to stop to take it in, process, recognize, understand, and appreciate. Even flowers. Can eye track a bird while walking with no unbalance or feeling need to stop. Huh.

No difference with stairs. No difference on TTC, still as effing disabled unfriendly as ever, except I was able to read small numbers on sign from a meter away up till I passed it while walking sans feeling umbalanced!

After a couple of hours, realized I could see as clearly looking straight ahead as looking out of the corners of my eyes towards the good side. My surgeon had said as my eyes synced, focus would become sharp looking ahead and towards the bad side. Not really. It did slowly and deliberately when looking ahead but not to bad side. But now as easily ahead as to good side; and to bad side, slightly unfocused but not to usual point of ugh-too-blurry as had been since surgery. Three hours after training, brain wants me to see iPhone straight ahead not from corners of my eyes on good side. Oh. Uh. Weird. Nice.

I'd been listening to my music while walking for many months now. But for 3.5 hours after training, no thoughts to do so, and, when realized I wasn't, brain refused to let me. This was like early months after surgery.

Maybe because of the heat outside and in my head, my visual acuity diminished to blurry after 3 hours post-training. Rest of the effects remained. I discovered normal-sighted people can read that fucking tiny-lettered TTC sign OK. Sigh. At least I could ask someone to read it for me.

About seven hours after training, I didn't get angry, impatient, or frustrated with someone who seems to persist in not hearing me. I actually repeated things I'd said several times over the months sans feeling any anger. Yet I'd been raging to myself over it that morning. After new training protocol, I felt like I could handle it. It wasn't just an absence of anger but also an uptick in competence and patience. During those six hours, I was bizarrely flipping back and forth like anger switch being turned on and off rapidly then happy gamma switch plus something stayed on longer and longer.

Next Day

I couldn't sleep the night of the new biofeedback. About 4:00am, I used my CES Sleep which I normally do when I wake up. When sleep eludes, I'll use it at 4 or 5am. Earlier I'd normally use my AVE device and its SMR For Sleep session. But I didn't want to "pollute" the brain training as I was supposed to monitor the results nor did I want to push my brain that much…although my brain trainer had said SMR OK for me to use whenever. Woke up about 5 hours later tired but feeling rather up and ready to tackle the day. Nice. Unusual. And in the is-this-for-real category…although my feet hurt as much as usual, when I got out of bed, the rest of me was much less stiff and in pain. I walked upright, not like some crouched old man, stiffly moving one leg at a time as I slowly slowly straightened up and smoothed out my movements.

In my reading practice with Mum, I was able to recall the entire previous chapter easily. It felt like it was flooding in to memory and out of my mouth. Mum noticed the change. Reading was about the same. So maybe my reading practice is encoding OK. It's retrieval that's the sticking point…

Vision acuity, colours, and head straightening remained the next day but almost all the effects were gone the second day after. Why the improvement when it should have remained after surgery? Perhaps since the same area is involved in emotions and memory, trauma had overridden the ability of the brain to process and integrate visual, auditory, and kinesthetic input.

After I returned to my current normal, I noticed I can see into the distance but not while walking. I need to focus on something stationary in the middle distance. And turning my head while walking is a careful, deliberate slow, slight turn while monitoring my balance. I hope the effect of being able to look into the distance or turn my head while walking effortlessly returns with my next biofeedback!

I suppose this is why Jesus told men to stop mistreating women. It wasn't just about being nice; it was about not harming women's cognitions such that it kept men in power. God is not patriarchal. He created humans to be equal as humans, not to be gendered humans with gender-determined power and roles.