Gamma Brain Biofeedback: Weirdness and Lessons

Published Categorised as Brain Health, Brain Biofeedback

Well. That was a weird session. There I was, waiting as my trainer was starting up the sailboat screen, watching the sailboats begin their race, when I suddenly realised the EMG boat was whizzing ahead of the others. And at the same time, I was realizing I was feeling distinctly unwell. I was hot. I was sweating. No, cold. And sweating more. I was feeling a bit faint. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, and I called a halt. Of course, she copied the one-minute results into the spreadsheet. Couldn't we forget about those results? Nope. For she saw something amazing: my heart rate had dropped. Oh, OK. Well I guess in the midst of feeling like I'm having a hot flash that isn’t and my anxiety over it ratcheting up my muscle tension, it's good my heart took it easy.

She figured because I'd begun to sweat so much, my heart didn't have to work so hard (my brain was regulating my body temp better). Sounds plausible to me.

She asked me how I knew it wasn't a hot flash. I told her I’ve had exactly one in my life, and aside from pouring sweat out of every pore, its singular feature is you want to strip off all your clothes.


It was impossible to talk after that, for however I was describing it (hot flashes and my current state of faintness, which was very like when my brain is on an improvement binge, a time when one would rather be at home snug in a chair), I had her in stitches. Soon I was off too.

When we could talk and focus again, she decided we would restart with the bowling screen then after a minute and a half switch back to the sailboat screen. I managed to bring my EMG down during bowling, but when she switched, I began to feel ill and my muscle tension went back up again. Sigh. She stopped it early.

I really dislike the visual aspects of the sailboat racing screen. Dr Michael Thompson likes it because it forces you to concentrate. But I find it so hard to perceive; I need to hurdle the obstacle of perception, of distinguishing red on pink against bright blue, to get to the concentration part, and so it takes a toll on my energy. In my next session, she replaced it with a dartboard screen I can see-perceive but which is just as challenging concentration wise.

Ramryge angels at Gloucester Cathedral, England

Brain injury grief is

extraordinary grief

research proves

needs healing.

Meanwhile, she quickly got me into starting SMIRB. Over 11 minutes later of writing, I still felt a bit light headed, and my senses on high alert, but much better. My body had calmed down. About time. Who needs one’s body to go haywire when working? Wait till I get home, dammit!

That was last week. Tuesday, September 11, was way better. I knew it would be when the assessment gamma/EMG ratio was 1.0. Woot! Although my results were up and down through the rest of the sessions, it ended really well. And, best of all, I learnt what it felt like to relax, to let go of the outcome and simply focus on playing well by relaxing into it. I don’t think I've felt quite like that before. It was rather pleasant. Unfortunately, I was unable to replicate it the next day, but at least I know what to aim for now.

I'm not quite halfway through the standard 40 sessions. And so I need to remember one usually doesn’t see changes becoming permanent yet; still, I feel like this time the ratio rising to 1.0 and above is the real deal and will continue. I feel too different in my head for that improvement as measured by the computer to be a mirage.

And then…

The lesson for Wednesday is that though I can do more, though my mind is expanding, I still don't have normal stamina — I still need to rest properly — not put in a token effort — and still cannot exercise more than twenty minutes on the same day as I do brain biofeedback. Back down below 1.0 we went. Wow, was I wiped. It was hard work trying to keep those gamma waves up and that muscle tension down. Well, actually muscle tension was not too much of a big deal, it was those gamma waves that would shoot up, bounce up and down, and then settle into the low red zone before climbing back up into the green again, that were the real problem. I needed all my energy to keep it up there. No more opposite-of-slacking off before biofeedback!

In other news: I'm starting something startling new, and so these blog posts will decrease to once a week. They will be my only blog posts this term. More on that “something new” later.

My results:

Date Baseline HRV Fdbk 1 Fdbk 2 SMIRB Fdbk 3 HRV
27 Jun 0.83 0.88 0.90 0.90 0.91
4 Jul 0.85 30s 0.91 0.94 0.898 0.90 0.84 EC
10 Jul 0.85 30s 0.89 0.86 0.84 0.86 0.90 EC
17 Jul 0.91 30s 1.05 1 0.94 0.96 0.97 EC
25 Jul 0.96 30s 1.03 1.02 1.01 0.97 1.02 EC
3 min 10 min
7 Aug 0.85 0.949 0.95 0.89 0.93 0.92
28 Aug 0.98 0.98 0.986 0.92 0.97 0.934 0.93 EC
4 Sep 0.87 0.872 0.84 0.876 0.92 0.95 0.88
5 Sep 0.92 1 0.98 0.90 0.93 0.94
11 Sep 1 1.01 1.006 0.95 0.94 0.99
12 Sep 1 0.97 0.99 0.97 0.98 0.93 0.97


My Duck logo walking on my books in pink and blue shading.



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