May 092013
 

The ADD Centre folks are great. You have a problem with the training, and they immediately go hmmm, tweak the settings, and have a new protocol ready for you for the next session. This week, they removed the mood network from my LORETA neurofeedback training. In one way, that would make it easier as I would be training one fewer network. Yet the networks left are pretty severe and would be targetted first by the program instead of the mood network as had happened previously (as I understand it). As a result, they raised the threshold to 2.4 from 2.0 standard deviations from the norm. Any brainwave amplitude, coherence, or phase that went above 2.4 would cause the DVD to disappear into a pinprick or right into nothing. In the last three sessions, it would have been any of those that went above 2.0. However, to me, in execution, there was no difference. It was just as hard to keep the DVD visible, never mind filling the entire screen. Yet, I did find it was easier to remain engaged without instructing myself, to want to see what came next, which is crucial to improving coherence.

This week, we watched the lemurs episode of the Kratt Brothers Be The Creature. They were cute. I did six five-minute screens for the second week in a row. I began not as fatigued as last week, but as usual tired with each screen; then by the fourth screen, I began to brighten mentally. The dichotomy between bright brain and fatigued self was not as dramatic as after the first session. But it's still there. After all, I'm typing this while my body wants to have a nap.

I learnt a bit more about the LORETA training. It’s used primarily for complex cases like diffuse axonal brain injury (me) or stroke or even autism. The computer tracks amplitudes of the various brainwaves; coherence between many different parts of the brain and also within each brainwave band; and phase between brain areas and within each band. So the list is long, to say the least. To keep it simple for us humans, the trainer notes which coherence pairs are problematic but does not narrow it down to the brainwave band as well unless the same band keeps popping up. In other words, maybe Brodmann areas 9L and 10R* are going above 2.4. But that could be within the alpha, or the lower Beta, or the Theta bands. Unless it's always within, let's say, the Theta band, the band won't be noted down, only the coherence pair that caused the DVD to disappear.

The same networks kept popping up. This week the big ones were blurred vision (not last week), executive function problems, failure to initiate action (this was primarily in Theta band last week), speech articulation problems (not last week), sequential planning problems (not last week), multi-tasking problems (this was primarily in Theta band last week), and auditory sequencing problems (not last week). (Last week but not this included short-term memory, word find, mood, and spatial perception problems.) I was fairly consistent too. Working on these networks did not adversely affect my mood, and I remained in the happy gamma mode from my gamma brainwave biofeedback session earlier this week. Thank God!

The only side effect I had was being dizzy on the highway drive back. Sensory overload! Tired brain! But as soon as I had my cupcake and iced mocha, I was fine. I had had a healthy protein bar right after, but let's be real: an injured brain that's had to work hard wants glucose, its fuel, not muscle food.

*These are in the frontal lobes, one on the left and one on the right.

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