BRAINWAVE INVESTIGATION (3/3)

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Integrating the whole brain.

What are the effects of synchrony?  One of the leading
researchers into brain wave synchrony, Dr. Lester Fehmi, of the
Princeton Biofeedback Research Institute, points out that
"synchrony represents the maximum efficiency of information
transport through the whole brain." This means that brain wave
synchrony produces a sharp increase in the effects of various
brain wave states.  Fehmi notes that "phase synchrony . . . is
observed to enhance the magnitude and occurrence of the
subjective phenomena associated with alpha and theta" and of beta
as well. Thus, for example, the phenomena associated with theta,
such as vivid imagery, access to memory, spontaneous creative
insights, and integrative experiences, all are enhanced in
"magnitude and occurrence" by whole brain synchrony.

Some of the researchers and clinicians who have been using EEG
"crossover point" training now believe that part of the
extraordinary transformational powers of moving through that
critical point where alpha is superceded by theta are a result of
brain wave synchrony.  William Beckwith observes that "The
production  of synchronized, coherent electromagnetic energy by
the human brain at a given frequency leads to a 'laser-like'
condition increasing the amplitude and strength of the brain
waves."  He notes that "as clients learn to increase their alpha
amplitude and produce theta waves without losing consciousness, a
critical point is reached when theta amplitude begins to exceed
alpha amplitude. Cross-lateral brainwave synchronization also
increases, creating a more coherent system. At this point, there
are profound alterations in client mood and behavior," including
"the seemingly miraculous resolution of complex psychological
problems. . . . There is a sudden re-ordering of the entire
personality in ways that cannot be readily explained by other
models."


                 BRAINWAVE SYMMETRY AND EMOTIONS

In addition to synchrony, there is now evidence that whole-brain
symmetry (i.e. the relative balance of EEG activity between the
right and left hemisphere) is an important key to peak brain
functioning. The clear link between left side of the face
activity and sadness and right side of the face activity and
happiness has recently been scientifically documented. In some of
the studies the researchers simply asked the subjects to
vigorously contract either the right or left sides of their face.
They found strong evidence (in over 90% of the subjects) that
contorting one side of the face produces emotions, with the left
side of the face producing sadness and negative emotions, right
side producing positive emotions.

But why does facial asymmetry affect emotions? Several groups of
scientists working independently have found that "EEG asymmetry
in anterior regions of the brain" can predict and diagnose
emotional states and emotional styles. That is, people with more
activity in the left frontal cortex than in the right tend to
have a more cheerful and positive temperament--they are self-
confident, outgoing, interested in people and external events,
resilient, optimistic and happy.  On the other hand, people whose
EEG shows more activity in the right frontal cortex than in the
left tend to be more sad and negative in their outlook--they see
the world as more stressful and threatening, are more suspicious
of people, and feel far more fear, disgust, anxiety, self-blame
and hopelessness than the left-activated group.

In one study, researchers found that these brainwave patterns
could predict "affective responses to emotion elicitors," i.e.
how the subjects would react to film clips that were preselected
to elicit positive or negative emotions (the positive film clips
were of a puppy at play, or an amusing gorilla taking a bath; the
negative clips showed gory surgery scenes). Those with more
right-frontal activity showed far more powerful negative
emotions, such as fear and disgust, when viewing the surgical
scenes than did those with more left-frontal activity. On the
other hand, those with more left-frontal activity derived far
more pleasure and delight from the positive films than did the
gloomy right-frontal subjects.

In other words, things that might produce delight and euphoria in
some people will leave others cold, unmoved, or even suspicious;
and things that some folks find only mildly unpleasant will fill
others with enormous revulsion, disgust and horror. And,
astonishingly, these responses can be predicted, simply by
observing their brainwave patterns!

        THE CRY-BABY BIOMARKER & DEPRESSION IN THE BRAIN

There is also evidence that these brainwave asymmetries may be
linked to depression. The researchers tested the EEGs of a group
of normal subjects who had never been treated for depression, and
a group of subjects who had been previously depressed and later
successfully treated for depression.  They found that the
previously depressed subjects had far less left-frontal activity,
and far more right-frontal activity, than those who had never
been depressed.

A recent brainmapping study of depressive patients by C. Norman
Shealy, M.D., Ph.D. at the Shealy Institute in Springfield,
Missouri, revealed that 100 percent of the patients had abnormal
brainwave activity, with the most common finding being "Asymmetry
of the two hemispheres with right hemisphere dominance."

Another study revealed that patients who had just been diagnosed
with depression and were about to begin treatment had less left-
frontal activity than non-depressed subjects. "You find similar
brain patterns in people who are depressed, or who have recovered
from depression, and in normal people who are prone to bad
moods," said one of the researchers, Dr. John Davidson, of the
University of Wisconsin, Madison. "We suspect that people with
this brain activity pattern are at high risk for depression."

There is even evidence that these brainwave patterns and
emotional "styles" may be hereditary or genetically-influenced.
Davidson has studied the behavior and the EEG patterns of 10-
month old infants during a brief period (one minute) of
separation from their mothers, and found that "those infants who
cried in response to maternal separation showed greater right-
frontal activation during the preceding baseline period compared
with infants who did not cry." Observed Davidson, "Every single
infant who cried had more right frontal activation.  Every one
who did not had more activity on the left." He concluded that
"Frontal activation asymmetry may be a state-independent marker
for individual differences in threshold of reactivity to
stressful events and vulnerability to particular emotions."

             TURNING UP THE JUICE IN THE JOLLY LOBE

The next step, of course, is to move from simply observing the
existing brainwave patterns and using them for diagnosis to
actively developing strategies and techniques for altering the
patterns.  As Dr. Davidson pointed out, "If you learn to regulate
your negative feelings better, it may turn out that you have also
learned to turn up the activity in your left frontal lobe."


                  FINDING THE POINT OF BALANCE
All of this research casts new light on the well known
differences between the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere.
In most people, the left hemisphere is superior in processing
verbal material while the right hemisphere shows superiority in
handling visual/spatial information.  Studies by neuroscientist
David Shannahoff-Khalsa of Salk Institute for Biological Sciences
indicate that hemispheric dominance is constantly shifting back
and forth from right to left hemispheres, with average cycles of
90 to 120 minutes.

Other scientists have reached similar conclusions by testing
subjects at regular intervals on verbal (left-hemisphere) and
spatial (right hemisphere) tasks.  They found that when verbal
ability was high, spatial ability was low, and vice versa.  This
discovery, Shanhnahoff-Khalsa points out, "suggests we can exert
more control over our day-to-day mental functioning.  For
example, certain cognitive functions, such as language skills,
mathematics and other rational processes that are thought to be
primarily localized in the left hemisphere" might be boosted by
"forcibly altering" our cerebral dominance. And in the same way
we might "accentuate the creativity that is thought to be
characteristic of right-hemisphere dominance," through similar
forcible altering.

However, one key finding that has emerged from these studies of
shifts in hemispheric dominance is that each time dominance
shifts from one hemisphere to the other there is a point at which
dominance is equally balanced between both hemispheres. And, the
researchers have found, it is at this point, and during this
short period of time, when the brain is at its most fertile and
creative.

The truth is that two brains are better than one. While each
hemisphere seems to have its specific beneficial capacities, each
has its downside as well. The right hemisphere has been linked
with visual/spatial skills, emotional and musical sensitivities,
and intuitive, timeless, imagistic thought, but also with
depression, suspicion, sadness, hostility, paranoia and negative
emotions.  The left hemisphere has been linked with verbal
skills, orientation in time, rational, logical, analytical
thinking, happiness and positive emotions.  But mere analytical
thought, without intuitive, emotional, imagistic, time-free
insights, is rigid and uncreative.

There is a reason why we have two hemispheres: they are both
necessary and complementary, and they function best when they are
functioning together, synergistically. This is an obvious point
of much of the research we have looked at so far. EEG studies of
meditators clearly demonstrated that peak states were
characterized by increased synchrony and symmetry between the
hemispheres. Neuroscientist Jerre Levy, of the University of
Chicago, a  leading authority in the field of hemispheric
lateralization research, believes that, "Normal brains are built
to be challenged.  They operate at optimal levels only when
cognitive processing requirements are of sufficient complexity to
activate both hemispheres.  Great men and women of history did
not merely have superior intellectual capacities within each
hemisphere.  They had phenomenal levels of emotional commitments,
motivation, attentional capacity--all of which reflected the
highly integrated brain in action."

It's evident that a "highly integrated brain," a brain in which
both hemispheres are functioning in symmetry, synchrony, harmony
and unity, is a key to peak states and peak human performance.
But throughout history, humans have found that it's not easy to
intentionally bring both hemispheres to bear simultaneously. Much
of our lives we spend swinging back and forth between left
dominant states and right dominant states.  This is where EEG
feedback presents revolutionary possibilities.  For research has
shown that users can quickly learn alter hemispheric asymmetry
and imbalance and produce more symmetrical, balanced brainwave
patterns. And, the evidence suggests, by doing so they can assist
in producing the peak performance states associated with whole-
brain integration.


           LINKING EEG FEEDBACK WITH LIGHT ENTRAINMENT

Tuning into Stored Traumas.  In Megabrain Report Vol. 1, No. 2
(1990) I discussed the enormous potentials of "an entirely new
generation of devices that combine sound and light stimulation
with biofeedback capabilities. . . . [which] enable the machine
to read the user's dominant brainwave activity, and then provide
the optimal frequency of sound and light to entrain brainwave
activity toward the 'target' frequency." But even in my wildest
speculations I could never have predicted the extraordinary
results some clinicians are now attaining using such an EEG--LS
feedback loop.

Psychotherapist Len Ochs, Ph.D., had long experience of using EEG
and other types of biofeedback.  He had studied with interest the
succes of Peniston and Kulkosky with the alpha/theta training.
While exploring the Peniston Protocol in his own therapy
practice, Ochs also became intrigued with the potential benefits
of linking EEG feedback with LS machines, so that the frequency
of the light flashes was directly linked to the brainwave
activity of the client. It made sense that by entraining
brainwaves downward toward a theta "target frequency" he could
speed up the lengthy feedback training procedure used by Peniston
and Kulkosky.

Ochs began using EEG-LS stimulation, which he first called EEG
Entrainment Feedback (EEF), and found that as clients moved
downward or upward into certain frequency ranges--which were
different for each client--many of them would begin to experience
discomfort, anxiety or nausea. He found that those who were most
hypersensitive were the ones who had the most symptoms. They
were, he concluded, hypersensitive at certain frequencies. Ochs
used the LS to help gently entrain the clients' brainwaves into
the uncomfortable frequency range. He found that as they
willingly relaxed and entered that frequency range, they
underwent sudden releases of traumatic material. What was even
more exciting was that these sudden releases had powerful, life-
transforming effects. In the process, their symptoms disappeared,
and they became desensitized to the lights.  It was as if the
therapeutic effects of months or even years of traditional "talk"
psychotherapy had been compressed into minutes.

The Brainwave Rollercoaster. In his explorations of EEF, Ochs
experimented with designing the computer program that linked the
EEG with the LS to alternately speed up brainwaves and then slow
them down, reversing direction every minute or two, and producing
a sort of rollercoaster effect.  He found that when he did this
many clients experienced an even more rapid release of symptoms
and problems. It appeared that as clients learned to move through
troublesome frequencies, they released progressively more and
more of the stored traumatic material.  In effect, Ochs
concluded, the process was not really entraining brainwaves, but
constantly disentraining brainwaves, constantly nudging or
pulling dominant brainwave activity out of its habitual "grooves"
and responses.  In doing this, it seemed to have the effect of
"limbering up" the brain, increasing its flexibility, its
capacity to move freely up and down through various frequency
ranges. He concluded that EDF was working by optimizing EEG.  My
own experiences with Ochs's EEG-LS link, which he now calls EEG
Disentrainment Feedback (EDF), and my discussions with others who
have experienced it, have convinced me that this linking of
brainwaves with light stimulation produces a profound brain-
altering effect quite different from either EEG feedback of LS
stimulation alone.



                  BOOSTING BRAINPOWER WITH EEG
Out of all the EEG feedback research, one intriguing fact has
emerged:  EEG biofeedback training clearly increases human brain
power, including increases in IQ and in other types of
intelligence and achievements. These increases seem to result not
only from the altered brainwave states that are the result of EEG
biofeedback training, but also from actual physiological brain
growth in response to the challenge and stimulation of learning
to use the mind tools--i.e. the "enriched environment" effect.

Among those who have found increased IQ in response to
biofeedback training are professors Harold Russell, Ph.D. and
John Carter, Ph.D. of the University of Houston. They have
concluded:

"Learning to self-regulate one's ongoing EEG frequency and
amplitude activity is a complex and time consuming task.
It requires a highly focused concentration on and the
awareness of the brain's activity and the repetition of the
patterns of mental activity that produce the desired
frequency and amplitude. . . . When the task of control of
EEG activity is adequately learned and sufficiently
practiced, the functioning of the human brain improves
measurably, e.g. . . . scores on standardized tests of
achievements or intelligence increase by 12 to 20 points."

In other words, there seems to be something inherently brain-
expanding about learning to manipulate your brainwaves.

One valuable but inexpensive technique for manipulating your
brainwaves is reading.  I have no doubts that there is something
inherently brain-expanding about reading.  This issue of
Megabrain Report contains a compendium of articles from many of
the leading figures in EEG feedback, dealing with all of the
issues touched on above. I cannot guarantee that reading them
will increase your IQ by 12 to 20 points, but I can guarantee
with total confidence that they will expand your mind. Read on.

Chuck Gogolin Atlanta Ga

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