Gamma 38 to 42Hz Audiovisual Entrainment for Brain Injury, Single Subject Study

Introduction

In 2012, following my inclusion in and subsequent exit from a drug trial that increases GABA in the brain, the ADD Centre, working with me, demonstrated that brain biofeedback of 39 to 42Hz at CZ can increase gamma brainwaves and effect radical improvement in a person with brain injury. You can find the research paper in Chapter R in Concussion Is Brain Injury: Treating the Neurons and Me.

Single- or two-electrode brain biofeedback uses a brain map from a qEEG assessment to target a specific location or locations, and it includes both enhancement and inhibition at the same time while either monitoring or providing feedback to reduce EMG. One of the key issues in training gamma brainwaves up is that the person must be able to achieve muscle tension or EMG below 2uV. Most people find this difficult. In contrast, AVE is a passive method. AVE affects the brain through the eyes and ears, does not require a qEEG to be used (though research with it does), is not targetted to a single location on the brain, and doesn’t require EMG to be reduced, although most sessions reduce blood pressure and relax the muscles. AVE can entrain two frequencies, but only to enhance them.

And so I suggested in Chapter R that one way around the problem of reducing EMG below 2uV is to use audiovisual entrainment of gamma.

Another key issue I discussed in Chapter R is that gamma seems to potentiate training other brainwave frequencies. I wondered if brain biofeedback or AVE of gamma before training up of other brainwave frequencies would make that training easier and more effective.

Recently, Dave Siever, C.E.T., founder and owner of Mind Alive Inc., added three gamma brainwave entrainment sessions to the DAVID Delight Plus and DAVID Delight Pro AVE devices. They are in the custom section, and one can request them to be added to an existing device. However, until COVID-19 is vanquished, the only way to access these sessions is to buy a new or refurbished device.

With physical distancing and self-isolation measures from COVID-19 cancelling my brain biofeedback appointments, I had an opportunity to test out my first hypothesis: can AVE enhance gamma brainwaves and effect functional change? However, I cannot test out the second one without resuming brain biofeedback.

I purchased a refurbished DAVID Delight Pro with the multi-coloured eyesets. I decided to first experiment with the gamma sessions as I wasn’t sure which one would be best to use nor which would be closest to my brain biofeedback protocols. I began with the SMR/gamma. This thirty-minute session alternates SMR with ramps of gamma. The three ramps of gamma are 36 to 38Hz; then 38 to 40Hz; then 40 to 42Hz. I used this one for 11 days (3 days, one-day off, 8 days). After a one-day gap, I tried the 40-minute 40Hz gamma, which is the target frequency of active gamma brainwave biofeedback training. Although for the first little while after that session, it seemed to produce good results, it gave me a persistent headache and made me irritated with every stimulus and activity. I decided against using it again. After a two-day break, I next tried the 30-minute 38 to 42Hz gamma session for two days. After that, I was close to starting the experiment with gamma AVE, and I only needed to decide whether to use SMR/gamma or 38 to 42Hz gamma.

I decided on 38 to 42Hz gamma. First, this one was closest to my training sessions at the ADD Centre where I work to enhance 39 to 42Hz brainwaves. Second, these sessions seem to last about four hours before the effects begin to dissipate. Third, I use SMR/beta five mornings a week, and although my brain trainer had indicated one can’t have too much SMR, which meant it would be okay to use SMR/gamma on the same days, I felt that the SMR/gamma wasn’t entraining enough gamma. I want to achieve a good gamma entrainment effect in myself.

Hypothesis

One-second sample of gamma brainwaves at OZ
Copyright Hugo Gambo. An EEG (electroencephalograph) 1 second sample. The signal is filtered to present only the gamma waves. The signal was acquired in the OZ position processed with scipy and saved with matplolib.

I hypothesize that audiovisual entrainment (AVE) can be used to enhance gamma brainwaves in a person with diffuse axonal brain injury from a three-impact car crash twenty years previously and who has previously received gamma brainwave biofeedback at CZ. Without depending on reducing muscle tension, AVE can be shown to effect gamma enhancement in people with brain injury. This experiment is to determine if gamma AVE at 38 to 42Hz can decrease vigilance and anxiety while promoting cognitive activity and sleep.

Importance of this Single Subject Study

The importance of this research centres on the fact that, although studies have shown that brain injury impairs the brain’s ability to produce gamma brainwaves, little work has been done to reverse that or improve it either through short-acting means or long-acting ones that have no side effects. This research also adds to the body of evidence that neuroplastic therapies are the way to heal brain injury. Unfortunately, the traditional medical view continues to ignore this evidence and leaves people with brain injury fighting to become okay with their diminished lives instead of fighting to get better. I believe a combination of neuroplastic therapies is the way to achieve optimal results. If this experiment works, then researchers and clinicians can use it to build robust studies and/or add gamma AVE to increase the effectiveness of their neuroplastic therapies and accelerate healing a brain injury. The point of this study is give hope of healing to millions of people being forced to suffer silently.

On a personal note, it will replace in part my brain biofeedback appointments at the ADD Centre, and it will thus help me cope with COVID-19 pandemic, which is exacerbating brain-injury anxiety and PTSD vigilance in me.

Method of Approach

I have a fairly intense daily or weekly routine of using AVE, cranioelectrical stimulation (CES), and low-intensity light therapy (LILT) aka laser therapy, though, after all these years, I see it as part of my day rather than an imposition. The rewards of increased functionality and significantly lowered brain-injury physical sequelae without side effects makes it doable. I will maintain this routine, in as regular a manner as possible.

Although I occasionally use SMR for Sleep AVE, for the purposes of this study, I will refrain from using it. I will also refrain from using other AVE sessions, including 15-minute or 30-minute alpha sessions unless I develop a headache so bad I’ll need to use one of them. Pain may increase my use of LILT, although I would still be able to distinguish between LILT effects and gamma effects, through long familiarity with both.

Unlike medication, AVE produces results within minutes of starting a session. The results persist for several hours, or in the case of some sessions, days after. However, effects don’t seem to become permanent or they may become permanent only after consistent use for long periods of time. Although one month is probably not long enough to determine persistent long-term effects, it’s about the maximum time I can focus on maintaining the discipline this kind of experiment requires without, quite frankly, homecare and support. Because of COVID-19, I will only be able to evaluate subjectively. At some point, when I’m able to resume brain biofeedback or am able to afford virtual appointments with the ADD Centre, I’ll be able to attain objective measurements of brainwaves, heart rate, breathing, skin temperature, and muscle tension; compare those to pre-COVID-19 measurements; and may do a mini repeat of this experiment at that time.

Since I’m super sensitive to brain training, in order not to overpush my brain, I’ll use 38 to 42Hz gamma AVE on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. This will allow for a one-day break and a two-day break to assess persistence and to allow my brain to rest. I know the gamma sessions work my brain in a similar way to an athlete doing power training because of the immediate increasing heat in my head and some of the dizziness that’s unrelated to dropping blood pressure. I discussed the issue of heat and thermoregulatory problems after brain injury in Concussion Is Brain Injury: Treating the Neurons and Me.

Just prior to the session, I will eat a decent lunch and drink at least one mug of water. I’ll start the session within 20 minutes of drinking water, whether one mug or two.

Since I don’t want this session to keep me awake late into the night, I’ll start it between 12:30 and 1:30pm. It’s been difficult at times trying to start during this hour because of the fluctuating COVID-19 pandemic and briefings by all three levels of government.

I will play the radio during this session. I find the pulse tones at this frequency annoying and silence doesn’t work well for me, probably because of my PTSD. Choosing my own music has the complication of having to decide what to listen to, or if I stuck to the same playlist to eliminate the cognitive task of decisionmaking, I will tire quickly of listening to the same music several times a week. The radio removes that issue plus DJs provide comforting familiarity. I’ll turn it off if I mistime my start and commercials come on during the session.

After the session, I’ll have more water and have something to eat on hand. I will also rest for 10 minutes minimum.

I keep to my usual routine of AVE, CES, and LILT:

  • Hypothalamus Fix daily.
  • SMR/beta AVE Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
  • Energize AVE (for fibromyalgia) Wednesday.
  • High-alpha AVE Sunday.
  • Neck/concussion LILT Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday, Thursday. If Thursday is too much of a push on my brain, I’ll eliminate that one.
  • Low back LILT once a week.
  • Midback LILT twice a week.
  • LILT as needed when pain flares.

I add in:

  • Gamma 38-42Hz AVE Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday between 12:30 and 1:30pm.

I track publicly:

  • Number of posts written per day and per week.
  • Number of minutes reading book(s) per day.
  • Number of images worked on and posted per week.
  • Morning heart rate.
  • Number of hours sleep.
  • Improvement on vigilant thinking from PTSD, exacerbated by COVID-19, rated as not distinguishable from norm, mild improvement, significant improvement.
  • Improvement on anxiety from all causes, including brain injury and staying safe from SARSCoV2, rated as not distinguishable from norm, mild improvement, significant improvement.

I will track privately some subjective parameters like feeling whether my initiation Go Button was pressed on. I will post my progress weekly in a spreadsheet. You can follow along through this website’s gamma or gamma AVE tags.

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