Speech and Language Issues
For resolving language or reading problems, anyone who has done much NF can tell you that there can be dozens of EEG patterns that could result in those symptoms. Assuming that your clients might possibly have one or two other issues in their lives beyond difficulty with reading, just focusing on a tertiary symptom like that can minimize your chances of finding something that resolves it.
Often speech problems are related to one or the other of the language output areas Wernicke’s area (around CP5), which handles syntax and putting together what is to be said and how, or Broca’s area (around F7) which actually organizes what Wernicke’s wants to say and sends the orders to the vocal apparatus to produce the right sounds in the right order.
The angular gyrus lies just above and posterior to Wernicke’s area (about T5). It is much more related to understanding metaphorical material than understanding words. Wernicke’s is the decoding area.
Apraxia is about as helpful as most diagnoses, since like most it is simply a description of a symptom (no speech). Why? Where is the problem? The diagnosis doesn’t tell us.
Stimulants – Training PFC when using meds, caffeine or other stimulants
I recently worked with a young man here in Brazil who began trying to cut back on coffee and discovered that he had a real crash if he stopped drinking it so frequently. Over his HEG training, he developed the ability to sustain his increases in oxygenated blood flow (presumably even better if you also stop smoking which reduces blood oxygenation). and build his ability to increase the levels quickly.
If you use a crutch, it helps you get around, but it keeps the weakened physical function from developing itself. Try doing training in the morning before coffee, cigarettes or meds (though many current meds which build up blood levels won’t be out of your system completely). Don’t worry about how bad it is without any of that stuff. Do the exercise and you’ll see changes in your ability to perform in the training. As that happens, try easing off your post-training use of the drugs (if you need them to help you function during the day). Just remember that this is exercise. It’s easy to get worried or frustrated when you don’t see nice steady changes in measures, but if you are jogging regularly you’ll have some days when you feel you could run a hundred miles–and others when you doubt you can make one. But you know that the benefit of the exercise happens because you DO it, and it happens whether it’s easy or hard.
Stress (Hesitance to training)
I like to tell the story of Barry Sterman’s study of the top-gun pilots. I ask the client if he/she really believes that his job is more stressful than piloting a billion-dollar stealth bomber, and I point out the the stress is not coming from the job–it is coming from the person IN the job.
I note that this level of stress has the potential to become addictive as people become Adrenalin junkies, and, just as in the case of all addicts, they continue to seek it at all costs, even as they see that it is undermining their health and happiness, until finally they crash. In the case of stress addicts, adrenal fatigue sets in and they become severely depressed and very limited in their ability to respond. Of equal importance, the choice to maintain any imbalanced addictive lifestyle stunts their immune response, so the likelihood of contracting a serious disease increases significantly.
I point out that they have a choice–albeit a difficult one–to take a fork in the path that will require them to invest 2-3 hours a week for 3-4 months to shift their brains toward the Top Gun mode of operating: actually performing MORE effectively though with a significantly lower cost to their lives and bodies, in all areas. Or continue to surf the Adrenalin wave until they lose pretty much everything.
Just as with any addict, I tell them I can guide them if they choose to make the commitment, but I can’t make the decision for them. And I remind them that the longer they wait, the harder the fall will be and the more difficult it will be to make it all the way back to their full potential.
Stress (see Tone under the brain-trainer Approach)
When someone sustains a high level of stress over an extended period, the amygdala–the smoke detector of the brain among other things–can become overly sensitive, which results in triggering the sympathetic response when it is not appropriate and sending the entire physiological environment into emergency response state. That obviously uses up a lot of energy when it is not necessary and shifts the brain’s resources away from what would probably be more productive tasks. Especially the prefrontal cortex, which has the job of evaluating the alarm with more complete information and turning it off if not appropriate, is pulled away from its executive functions.
Since the limbic system and Autonomic Nervous System are linked homeostatically, when autonomic tone goes up, so does emotional tone (and vice-versa). People feel stressed, then they feel anxious, and, if they keep up the pattern long enough, they end up feeling tired, without resources and depressed.
Brains faced with constant emergency situations develop cortical strategies to get them through those situations. For example, a person whose life is in constant danger may develop a hyper-vigilant strategy, and that strategy may work. The problem is that once the strategy becomes a part of the brain’s operating system, you can’t just turn it off. And generally that results in the irony that the strategy that the brain used to protect itself from a particular state begins actually to KEEP itself in that state. When the danger is gone from the environment, the brain keeps looking for it and producing that same emotional response.
So in training tone issues we need to do three things: cut off the incoming stress, begin shifting the brain toward parasympathetic states (RSA breathing techniques, heartrate variability) and begin trying to unwind the cortical strategie(s) that are holding the state in place. In some cases the brain will resist strongly letting go of one or another of these, so I let the brain guide my training decisions, seeking to find which of the patterns (starting with the most basic) provides a positive response without triggering a rebound.
One of the keys to working with stroke is that you don’t train directly over the site, though around it is okay. Your primary goal is to help the brain reorganize to pick up lost functions–same as with any head injury.
Using HEG with Stroke
The conventional wisdom is that, since HEG is designed to improve the brain’s blood distribution system, it will actually reduce pressure, not increase it.
Stuttering is usually a clue that F7 and F8 are competing over dominance for language. F8 (the analogue to Broca’s Area at F7) is supposed to be like an understudy for the main character in a play. It walks around back-stage, mouthing the words to Hamlet’s soliloquy while F7 is out on the stage declaiming it. When F8 loses sight of that role, it stands in the wings and speaks the lines in full voice, causing poor F7 to become confused. In short, F7 and F8 are both sending orders to the vocal apparatus to say the same thing; it’s F7’s job, so its signals get there a bit faster than F8’s and the vocal apparatus starts to speak, then starts again and trips on itself. The result is mixed messages reaching the speech areas resulting in false starts.
Try doing an assessment task at F7 and F8 to see which activates with a reading aloud task. Training beta at F7 often helps. I like F7/A1 or F7/CP5, 15-18 Hz up and 2-5 Hz down (unless you are working with a younger child). Sometimes training F7/F8 in one channel (a bipolar montage) can also be helpful.
Look at both sites. If F8 is highly activated (more fast activity than F7 or about the same), you might quiet F8 or activate F7.
Stuttering often resolves very quickly. Since F7 is also related to control of physical and verbal impulsivity and F8 with emotional regulation and social inhibition, training in those sites can have some nice “side-effects” as well.
I generally sit down with a new client who is admittedly–or appears possibly to be (on the assessment)–using drugs or alcohol and try to get him/her to specify what they get from using. Also what they hope to achieve through training. It is important to do this between you and the client only. Then I explain that the substances change the way the brain works…temporarily…so that they feel better in the way they have just described; but in giving this temporary effect, they make it harder and harder for the brain to get there on its own. I ask them if they have a “problem” with the substance–an inability to control its use–and of course they say no. Then I tell them I would like to make a contract with them: they give me one month, during which they commit to not using their substance and coming at least twice a week for brain training. I tell them that I will show them that they can teach their own brain to go to the place by itself that they are currently using the substance to go–and that learning this, the brain will be able to go there more easily and more consistently. They will also begin to see some of the changes beginning that they want to see in their lives (able to concentrate better, lower anxiety or whatever). Most agree (though some don’t, saving everyone a waste of time and money). Then we talk about how they will actually keep their end of the bargain: when will they be most tempted to use despite their contract? how can they avoid those situations? And I actually write down the agreement and both of us sign it. In my experience it’s pretty rare that the client actually makes it through the month, which then raises between us the question of whether they really DO have as much control as they thought they had, but it also resets the contract period. In most of these cases we were successful and the client did agree that the substances were no longer necessary/desirable.
You can certainly do the assessment. The casual user will show some effects for up to about 10-14 days after use. Even after a fairly short period of regular use it’s likely the effects will be there and more lasting. But they will become more problematic the longer the client has/does use: especially frontal alpha, slow alpha and poor alpha blocking.
There is a specific protocol called Alpha Theta training which has been very helpful for many who deal with this pattern. It is very much like the 12-step programs that lead you to the point of admitting that you don’t necessarily control your life and that guide you into contact with those parts of your past that you need to accept and integrate into yourself. In most cases, once you’ve allowed that to happen, the “addictions” cease to be controlling. I surely do alpha theta with these clients–as I do with nearly every client every 5th session–but I prefer to look for the hot temporals or reversals or coherence issues or midline issues or indications of a head injury that appear in the assessment and train those. Fix those and the client may still choose to smoke from time to time when in a social situation or whatever, but they won’t “need” to.
I would always start A/T only after I had determined that the client was capable of producing an A/T ratio of about 1.5 with eyes closed in the parietal or occipital areas. If you look at his alpha coherence levels in those areas, I’m pretty sure you’ll find them very low (below .30 or .40). Try some P4 alpha up/theta down and also try alpha coherence training between P3 and P4 (two channels). Do some relaxation and stilling work with the client until he gets the feel of the alpha state. Without that, you don’t do alpha/theta… you do theta/theta, which for an alcoholic is probably too scary to get into.
Marijuana users have high alpha amplitudes, especially in front; lowered alpha peak frequency; poor alpha blocking. I don’t use alpha theta to train marijuana users. Yes it has been very useful with alcoholics and some drug addictions, but that’s not usually the issue with people who smoke marijuana. I don’t consider that marijuana smoking is a training problem. It’s just an issue that can complicate the training.
My approach has generally been not to speak to the parents about the smoking, but to deal directly with the client when we first sit down together. I ask him if he has a problem with marijuana, or could he stop for a month, if he chose to. I’ve never had anyone say they had a problem. Then I ask what they smoke for–what happens, how do they feel different, when they smoke. I explain to them that trying to train the brain while continuing to use will be like trying to dig a hole in a swamp. The brain won’t be able to learn to change itself, since it is being changed by an external substance. I challenge them to commit to me that they will stop smoking for 4 weeks (it takes about 2 weeks for the THC to clear from the system) and participate in the training with me 2-3 times a week, and I believe I can show them that they can get to the same place without the dope that they get to with it–and without the negative effects. At the end of that time, if they don’t feel I’ve shown them what they can do on their own, they can always go back to smoking. I had a couple folks choose not to take my bet, and we just told their parents that it would be a waste of my time and their money at this point to train, because the client didn’t want to change. The great majority made the commitment (though only a handful ever kept it for 4 weeks). When they slipped, I would be puzzled: “I thought you said you had control of this. Maybe it’s more of a problem than you thought.” and we’d re-dedicate ourselves and go on with the training. I don’t recall that I ever had anyone, at the end of the four weeks, say that I had lost the bet.
It is fairly common for alcohol or marijuana or cocaine to increase alpha levels in the brain temporarily–usually in the first couple drinks. That would tend to result in the person feeling calmer, happier, more present–which I guess would qualify as “fun”. Especially true for folks who have too much high beta or low levels of alpha or both. The problem is that the effect passes if you continue drinking, so many abusers of alcohol tend to go on past the necessary level and then continue trying to get it back. And, getting into alpha this way tends to make it harder for the brain to get there any OTHER way.
Alcohol and Training
Drinking 1-2 glasses of alcohol per week does not interfere with training unless the person drinks right before the session.
As for the alcoholic brain, it is commonly distinguished by very LOW T/B ratios. Alcoholics are into denial. Denial of what? Of subconscious material. Theta is subconscious. Alcoholics don’t customarily go there. They also tend to have low levels of alpha. Alcohol consumption (early in the process) tends to bump up alpha, resulting in that sense of wonderful ease that is so rare for alcoholics. Teaching them to relax, with temp or GSR (didn’t remember that they used GSR) was the first step toward getting them into alpha.
I would expect, in any kind of movement control issue, that SMR would be an important place to look in your training plan. If you have a disconnect in the assessment, any you see it both in the amplitudes and in the percents, then that is a good place to test first. But surely there will be other options to put on your list as well. Presumably if she was on Paxil, there are mood issues which might be helped by reversal training, especially if the high-beta levels are high. Did you see or test any of those? Also, what is her SMR level at C4/A2 with eyes open? If it is below 10%, I’d certainly try training that up (or at Cz, which may be better for motor issues). If it’s fairly high–say above 15%–I’d try training it down.
Remember that testing your best options in the beginning of training–running through the full list rather than latching onto the first one–is a much better way of avoiding riding the wrong horse halfway around the track.
Tics aren’t necessarily a physically-located thing, they are usually related to Filtering/Control problems–not necessarily to autonomic tone. You pretty much train to get the brain able to produce better and longer bursts of SMR in the sensory-motor cortex. I’ve never been clear on what the particular rationale for C4/P4 (or Pz) was.
SMR training is generally good for physical control issues. It can also be helpful for difficulty falling asleep. It can be a little tricky with a 7 year old to find the best training frequency.
Training at Cz/A2 or C4/A2 or C3/C4, inhibit the total EEG (squash) while training to increase SMR.
I’ve sometimes had good response with training C4/Pz in one channel, also squashing and increasing SMR.
So I would not, based on this alone, have picked at T3/T4 protocol. In fact, as I’ve said many times (and will continue to say) you are skating on very thin ice when you pick a protocol based on a single symptom or pick one without an assessment. (also under tics section of training goals)
C4/P4 or C4/Pz SMR up training, blocking slow and fast are good options for tics.
There has been a recent conversation on the list about training for tics. I’ve often used C4/P4 bipolar 1-channel training for this problem, training down high and low frequencies (as necessary) and increasing SMR.
Tourettes would actually usually be a combination of Filtering and Blocking: ADHD with OCD features. It is usually characterized by too MUCH dopamine, rather than too little. Tourettes often represents a very immature brain in terms of frequencies (tendency for many bands to be slower than you would expect for the chronological age), so you will want to look at the effective SMR frequency for your client.
If you find lots of fast activity at Fz, you may want to consider trying training that down (especially with something like an Fz/Pz or Fz/Cz montage). Training SMR at Cz, which is more effective for motor control, or at C4, which is more effective for sensory control (distractibility) are often helpful.
One of the classic protocols for motor tics is also C4/P4 or C4/Pz (different clients respond better to one or the other), SMR up/theta down.
C4/P4 or C4/Pz SMR up and theta down are some classic “tic” protocols. Especially look for fast activity at Fz in the assessment. Tourettes is a kind of OCD mixed with ADHD, so often protocols that cool down the cingulate have a very positive effect. Tourettes is ADHD with OCD, so the beta at Cz is probably a pretty important part of the picture, as it suggests that the cingulate is pretty over-activated.
This is a great topic/question for lots of trainers, so I’m taking the liberty of forwarding it and my answer to braintrainer.Several general comments on Tourettes:
1. One way of thinking of Tourettes is that it is ADHD combined with OCD. You really need to train both issues, as opposed to just working with the ADHD element.
2. Probably the best place to start, at least in my experience, is with the tics. An old Othmer protocol I always use with tics has seemed to have great power: C4/P4 or C4/Pz (these are bipolar, one-channel montages) training what you call the regular C4 design. As usual, you may find that by adjusting the SMR band frequencies you get better responses in individual clients.
3. Frontal midline training (here you could use FCz/A1-A2 or Fz/A1/g/Cz/A2 (L)) either to squash or to increase SMR levels can be very helpful. Physical impulses (and positive experience) are related to dopamine levels, and dopamine is carried to the prefrontal cortex via the medial forebrain bundle, which runs right under the midline. I’ve often used this kind of training with Parkinsons (another disorder with uncontrolled movements).
As for your question about the SMR% protocol:
Lots of clients who have “low SMR” show excessive levels of theta and/or high-beta, especially those with “standard ADHD”; hence the protocol which trains down 3-7 and 23-38 and rewards 12-15 Hz.
Lots of clients DON’T have this pattern. Some have high levels of delta. Some have high levels of alpha. Some have high levels of beta in the 15-21 range.
The trainer’s goal presumably is to increase SMR amplitudes relative to the overall EEG. As long as the client happens to fit into the theta/high-beta/smr pattern, the “regular” protocol works fine. Even then, if you watch the levels during a successful training, you will probably find that as the two inhibits go down (theta and high-beta) the reward band (SMR) ALSO GOES DOWN!! You are activating control loops in the brain, and those generally will move the brain toward greater efficiency (i.e. less activity in all frequencies). The EEG is not like a toothpaste tube, where if you squeeze down on both ends you’ll get a bubble in the middle. This is why I strongly recommend that, if you must use a multiple-threshold design like theta/high-beta/smr, you start all targets in auto mode and switch the inhibits to manual within about 30 seconds–LEAVING THE REWARDS AUTO! That way, as the brain reduces the slow and fast activity (as desired) you don’t end up blocking the feedback by the fact that the SMR amplitudes also are going down.
But there’s another way to do this and solve both the above problems. If you take the amplitude of SMR and divide it by the amplitude of the whole EEG (2-38 Hz), you end up training the percent of the total EEG energy that is in the SMR band.
Let’s say you have a client who has high levels of delta or alpha. Training up the percent of SMR, one of the most efficient things the brain can do to meet the training challenge is to reduce whatever frequency is too high! You don’t need to know if that happens to be delta or theta or 2-5 or 3-7 or 4-9 or beta or high-beta. It doesn’t matter if it changes during a session from theta to alpha. As long as SMR amplitude ends up as a greater share of the total EEG, you’re moving in the right direction.
And if the client reduces SMR amplitude as he reduces theta and high-beta (or whatever), it’s not a problem as long as the SMR reduction is less than the reduction in the overall EEG, since the percent of SMR will go up.
Finally, using SMR% has the huge benefit that it combines all the training into a single threshold. You don’t have to fiddle with multiple thresholds to make sure the feedback is not being blocked by one mis-set target when the brain is doing exactly what we want it to do. It’s easier for the trainer to keep track of and control the feedback and easier for the brain and client to get it.
The one thing you need to watch for in this design is the binaural beats. Because the SMR% up design calculates the percent by dividing an SMR band by the overall EEG band (instead of using a bandratio filter), you can use the Tools: Filters commands to adjust the SMR band as you train. However, the binaural beats are set for 14 Hz. If you are working with a a younger client, you may want to “turn off” the binaural beats until you have found the “correct” SMR frequency for that client. Then you can reset the beats to provide guidance to that frequency.
Tinnitus is one of those things that sometimes responds to NF, sometimes doesn’t. It is often related to high levels of sustained stress, so T3/T4 would be a reasonable starting place.
Same as always with T3/T4: very low frequencies (2-5 Hz) down and starting with SMR as your augment and reducing the training frequency until you find something that feels like it works.
Tinnitus may be related no problems with the auditory nerve and brain training won’t have much if any effect. Or it may be related to high levels of stress–which, of course, could have many causes and many other effects in the client’s life.
Why not just do an assessment and find out the big picture of what kinds of issues the brain is dealing with, test a training plan and see how many cool things you can help to happen in someone’s life–including stopping the ringing in the ears?
Tinnitus is often related to high levels of Tone (though it can also result from other things as well).
Tinnitus can be related to actual nerve transmission problems, in which case NF won’t likely have a longterm effect on it. Or it can be secondary to stress responses, in which case NF can help.
I don’t worry too much about looking for trauma indicators, since I agree with Von der Kolk: I don’t know that I’ve seen more than a few clients who wouldn’t qualify as having trauma experiences. If trauma is defined as a situation where the brain enters fight-or-flight mode but can’t run away and can’t fight–in other words, it is limited to a freeze response–and perhaps where this experience is not followed by an episode of trembling–then who HASN’T experienced trauma?! Maybe it’s even a normal part of life. The question for me is how has the brain adapted to those experiences and how can we train it to unlock the response and release the material.
If there is really a history of PTSD here, I’d expect to see high beta, especially in the temporal lobes(question—presume lack of posterior alpha could be related to ptsd. What else?) Sometimes excessively high alpha around the head (often a precursor to physical conversion effects); often high high-beta specifically in the temporals but often around the whole head as well. Those would be a couple right off the top.
When you see the 6-8 Hz scoop, I would usually assume that there is subconscious emotional material that the client does not wish to face. For many people the kind of crying you describe would be experienced as a great release–and even relief–but not for him. He learned very early that “doing” was what was important. Keeping his boss happy, taking care of his wife, etc. are all things he “does” to keep him from having to feel.There is an inconsistency between this story of a guy whose main goal is just that he wants to be able to “do” more–and the fact that he has been to all these therapists and gurus. Every experience has tried to show him that he must release the emotional material (you didn’t mention his childhood and his relationship with his parents), but he takes those messages as bad signs and stops doing whatever it is that is causing him to release.
Perhaps he can understand that he has “low energy” because of this: there is a great deal of emotional energy that is trying desperately to be expressed in his heart and brain. Then there is a great deal of energy spent by his brain in holding that emotional energy in check, keeping it locked up so he can keep “doing”. What is left over is a very small amount of the total energy he has available to him. I’m sure he will connect with the fact that his level of energy has gotten lower over the years. Unless he fixes this problem in his energy economy, he will continue to lose energy until perhaps eventually he no longer can continue to “do”. Perhaps he can also understand that until that emotional energy is allowed to have its day, to come out into the light and become a part of a whole him, his ability to emotionally connect with this new family he is wishing to join will be very difficult.
I think it’s very important for him to recognize that this release was a valuable and important part of what he wishes to achieve. Perhaps he would choose to do this work sometime when he will be able to take a vacation for a week or two from his work, so he doesn’t have to worry too much about “doing” while he is learning to “be”. But I would also ask him whether he felt more energy AFTER the release.
As for training, you could try the temporal lobe training without the 6-8 Hz activity and let him start to develop that with alpha-theta sessions perhaps every fifth session. You should also try the other options on your plan to see if you can find something that doesn’t go so directly into the teeth of his protection strategy, something that makes him feel better for a while.
There are a number of folks on the list who have used the TQ7 to develop training plans for veterans (and others that have head injuries) and have gotten excellent results. Of course they can’t re-do a Q to see if they got excellent results; they have to base that judgement on the fact that the client is better and happier and more stable…so they may not be right.If someone “has” PTSD and RAD, I would expect to see lots of very fast activity in the temporal lobes, perhaps a very hot right side, possible alpha distortions, etc.
One way to handle memories like that is to re-experience them and process them, the psychological approach. But in many cases I have found that as the client changes the appropriate brain patterns these issues are released “in the background” That can happen with A/T, but if that’s your main focus of training, then you may have some experiences like the one you are reporting. Training the existing activation patterns first, to make them more flexible and doing A/T every 5th session or so, as most our training plans recommend, old material often goes away. You describe the memory as vague and disturbing. You seem to be trying to make it less vague. Ideally you would train to make it less disturbing, to dis-empower it.
Although there are anecdotal reports of effects on balance and gait from training below O1 and O2–about level with the inion, that’s all I’ve ever seen. Theoretically, since the Cerebellum, which is the area you are speaking of, has no pyramidal cells, it should not produce an EEG signal, and thus feedback shouldn’t “catch its attention”.
Vertigo can be related to many things, and the fact that the client has had it for some time before ever starting brain training would suggest that you rule out those things first before blaming it on your training.
Vertigo is one of those symptoms that can come from lots of different problem areas. Assuming it’s not an inner ear thing, it could be related to autonomic function (is blood pressure very high or very low?).
Training a one-channel bipolar montage between electrodes placed below O1 and O2, increase SMR and decrease theta differentials has been reported by some on this list to have positive results.
Andrew Hill just posted, less than a month ago, about his positive response to training bipolar between, I believe, T5 and T6. Glance back through the posts since June 7th to get the exact frequencies he was using.
Fritz Perls among others asserted that many vision issues were related to brain states. An anxious person, for example doesn’t want to see very far, etc. He used to use Gestalt therapy to change people’s vision, and I’ve seen it happen a number of times over the years.
I’ve worked with several clients who had glaucoma, usually also had tone issues that resulted in high blood pressure and other issues. As always, looking at the whole client rather than a specific symptom is important, but we generally had some success with the vision issues over a period of training as we changed the overall level of stress in the body. Biggest issue I ran into was the client’s sensitivity to his/her eyes. Even with eyes-closed training, there was often a report that the eyes were tired or hurt or such after sessions. So take it slow and careful.