A Healthy Brain is Flexible: This is Also True of a Healthy Group or Field of Study

01 Aug
lynette-louise-and-brain

A Healthy Brain is Flexible: This is Also True of a Healthy Group or Field of Study

*This post appeared first in three parts on BrainSpeak.com. I’m happy to share it with you here in it’s entirety.*

I began in the field of neurofeedback for brain regulation as a student of EEG Spectrum where they trained practitioners to investigate brain function challenges using a model of arousal.

To put it briefly, the arousal model uses data, history and diagnosis to investigate whether symptoms are related to under-arousal or over-arousal in relation to the desired brain wave activity in the specific brain region performing the functions being examined. This method was easy for me to grasp.

I then continued my education and experience by apprenticing under leaders in the field—an intuitive healer Catherine Rule of Optimal Brain Institute and a very brilliant neuroscientist with two PhD’s, Dr. Burke. Catherine Rule was a holistic thinker of human interaction while Dr. Burke was well versed in neurophysiology; married to problem solving brain issues by considering the neurochemical interplay between brainwave firing and neuronal behavior. I was was able to blend these two approaches into my investigative model of brain dysfunction.

Thus, the arousal model served me well, even as I adapted it to merge my two mentor’s styles and fit my clients with their very extreme sensory issues (I began by specializing in autism and brain trauma because that was the clientele I was already working with).

Meanwhile, the field itself was bigger than I had first realized and there were more approaches than the arousal model to learn from.

Such was the reality in the neurofeedback field back then, and – due to advances in technology and brain science- it has become even more diversified in its approach to brain rehabilitation in the past ten years. Thus, I found myself enamored by new ways of thinking and with the inclusion of the QEEG as a diagnostic must (Quantitative Electroencephalograph– QEEG– is the measurement, using digital technology, of electrical patterns at the surface of the scalp which primarily reflect cortical activity or “brainwaves.”) much of what I had previously done so effectively became antiquated.

Progress and the era of the brain marched on as I evolved in my attempts to keep up with it. Somewhere along the way I forgot some things.

Recently I was going over old footage of my son doing a neurofeedback session. In it he was talking at least as good as he does today, many years later. (Dar was a nonverbal twenty-three year old when we were first introduced to Neurofeedback. A year into this exciting therapy he had fluid monosyllabic language whenever I was with him.) In that footage from the past I rediscovered my old approach. It was a happy/sad moment to realize I had lost touch with what had worked in my search for what would work better. I took a step back and reintroduced the old thinking. He is, again, learning faster than usual.

Regardless of all the clients I see world-wide, in the end it is my family that teaches me the most. This, I suspect, is because of my ability to see them over so many years of development and then discover what works and what doesn’t.

Additionally, I am blessed by my business model creating a unique approach to this work because I travel home to home, school to school, country to country, dysfunction to dysfunction; training the brains of group after group. Due to a vast array of clients and cultures I have the opportunity to observe similarities and disparities: race to race, religion to religion, diet to diet. Armed with this advantage I have taken the arousal model concept and applied it in areas where a QEEG was not possible.

Using this approach I have compared symptoms and individual brain processes worldwide. Thus, I have been enabled with the opportunity to think creatively as I gathered more and more hands-on knowledge. I want to share what I have learned so that we might consolidate our discoveries and do even more for our very deserving clients.

However, there is a problem.

My own temporal lobe brain challenges make “traditional” record keeping a problem, and it leads me to wonder how I will pass on what I know and share responsibly with the field.

My own temporal lobe brain challenges make “traditional” record keeping a problem, and it leads me to wonder how I will pass on what I know and share responsibly with the field.

I have healed this issue markedly. I have healed to the point in fact where my difference is more of a gift than a challenge. This is especially true in regards to understanding and creating usable protocols for healing work with science based intuition. However, where report writing in a scientifically accepted style is concerned, I am still challenged.

This “difference” in my recording style came up for me recently when I was asked to contribute to an interdisciplinary magazine with pictures and graphs. You see, pictures and graphs make it harder for me, not easier.

Though I can take the stage and share what I know with flair and a photographic sense of recall for brain dysfunctions, though I can create movies, videos, podcasts and abstract visual art while orchestrating the edits in all motion mediums– graphs, still pictures and power point presentations still disorient me. When you include these in your work, I skip them. I am a word person.

I can write a book, straight from experience and memory, easier than research citations. I can use creative writing techniques to make learning feel like a plot driven novel, easier than stay awake while reading a research paper. In fact, I stay awake by doing all my reading research while walking on a treadmill. Unfortunately, writing a research paper is impossible to do while asleep or walking on a treadmill. For me, the redundancy inherent in the writing and/or reading of an APA style document, is absolutely exhausting. Fortunately these differences- between me and my colleagues- no longer mean I judge myself as broken.

If ever there was a field that helps a person to appreciate difference, it is the field of neurofeedback when viewed through the arousal model.

Previously held convictions– like that coffee and sugar are unhealthy and cause hyperactivity—shifted for me to the concept that they indicated the need to self-medicate, and assist the individual in their search for a state of balance. These habits became clues about the need to counteract under-aroused states and ensure survival. The fact that I would drink coffee in order to sleep was no longer crazy, just a bit of information on what I needed for homeostasis. Everything about me, my clients, my children and my friends, became evidence and led to ideas on how we could correct our imbalances rather than lean on our crutches.

Life became more accepting as my friends and I stopped arguing for each other’s preferences. The wine drinkers accepted the coffee drinkers, and the beef eaters accepted the vegetarians. Each of us assisted the other to adapt and find new ways to garner the same effects. We became helpers to each other rather than judgers of each person’s habits.

It’s a wonderful way to live and I would like to share this thinking everywhere.

At this point I am much farther along in my career and I want to pass on my experience and my learning, but my observations and solutions are still experience based rather than research or education based and this, I fear, means my ideas are sometimes met with a dubious attitude. However, hands-on is who I am and will always be where my knowledge primarily comes from. Even though I am close to finishing my PhD, my style of learning, discovering and sharing will always have that leaning. And that makes it harder to be heard. Or so I have told myself.

And then I remembered Dr. Burke.

He was proof reading my book MIRACLES ARE MADE: A Real Life Guide To Autism. He questioned something in it and I answered him from memory. He questioned even more, and each time my answers satisfied his need for clarity. He read the case study one more time and said, “We can’t deny your lived experience.”

And yet people do deny the lived experience of another, on a regular basis.

People deny the lived experience of another on a regular basis.

As I previously mentioned, I specialize in autism. And if there was ever a population wherein lived experience is constantly denied, it is this one. People immediately polarize the minute the word “vaccine” is mentioned and parents who want to share the story of their child’s vaccine reaction are forced to hide the truth of their lived experience. Rather than be listened to, these parents are shunned. They often respond by knuckling down into the idea that vaccines alone cause autism. Meanwhile, the parents whose child’s autism was evident before any vaccinations were ever given scream and fight against anti-vaxers, claiming that these parents are distracting the scientists from doing the real work. People begin to choose which camp they are in and the lived experience of all parties gets lost in the battle.

In my opinion, it’s the battle that stops the information gathering. We should not be polarized into oppositional groups. We should be cooperatively looking for the sameness in each of these stories. Polarizing perpetuates propaganda and does nothing for discovery. This is the same type of mutual distraction the coffee drinkers use when they insist that wine drinkers are bad, and vice versa. It is also the same type of polarization that occurs in every field or population wherein two or more main approaches to problem solving face off against each, for no other reason than to prove that they are right.

In my opinion there are no answers for everyone, there are just answers that fit some and not others.

With that in mind I will share a few neurofeedback observations based on the lived experiences of my clients.

1- Vertigo can often be stopped with high frequency reward training at c3,cz, c4.
2- Children with autism can often train for up to an hour and receive great benefits.
3- Cz can exacerbate and/or calm excessive erectile fascinations in people with sensory challenges.
4- The arousal model and my decision to high frequency train on the dopaminergic pathway-– neural pathways in the brain that transmit the neurotransmitter dopamine from one region of the brain to another — helped for dementia and depression, cognition and some movement in Parkinson’s. But the arousal method wasn’t enough to get the amount of change I now see and the ten plus year prevention of deterioration in my clients.
5- My son and several clients with severe ASD experience a calmed body with increased sensation in the mouth when I difference train 0z-fp2 @ 12-15. This awareness began as a happy accident and is the rediscovery of that my old footage of my son.

I could share more but this is enough to make the point that it is important to have a science based model to choose protocols, methods and equipment. However, it is also important to be open to just plain using what works. In my opinion, lived experience trumps.

Early in I was taught that a healthy brain is a flexible brain, one that doesn’t get stuck in any state or in the need for mood altering substances. I would have to add that for any field or social group to be healthy they must also be flexible, not stuck in the dogma of any particular model but free to dance among the possible solutions from group to group.

This, I believe, is what it means to embrace difference. And it’s an embrace worth perfecting because the treasures in this embrace are filled with all the different correct answers for each person in need.

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