Concern Regarding the Mitsar Amplifier

The concern regarding the Mitsar amplifier expressed with so much vigor by those with competing interests has met the reality test of actual recorded data.  The concern expressed was over a theoretical time skewing error due to the data sampling of an older version of the Mitsar amplifier.

I suggested at the time that all the emotion was merely an example of someone yelling “the sky is falling”, like Chicken Little. There was no real problem, just lots of crying out and hand wringing.

I requested in an open international forum for anyone to send me a sample of the problem, and none could be produced. I suspected there was no real problem, as the sample issue was concerning a 500 sample/second device having a time skew… though this was in comparison to a database collected on a 100 sample per second device, with the waveforms interpolated from these samples.

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Neurofeedback and the Brain

Neurofeedback is an emerging neuroscience based clinical application, and understanding the underlying principles of neurofeedback allows the therapist to provide referrals or treatment, and provides clients with a framework for understanding the process. The brain’s electrical patterns are a form of behavior, modifiable through “operant conditioning,” with the excessive brain frequencies reduced, and those with a deficit are increased. The learning curve for EEG has been described (Hardt, 1975).

Neurotherapy using slow cortical potentials also shows promise in the treatment of epilepsy (Kotchoubey et al., 2001; Birbaumer et al., 1981; Sterman, 2000). Neurotherapy has also been used for ADD/ADHD (Monastra, Monastra, & George, 2002) depression (Rosenfeld, 1997), anxiety (Vanathy, Sharma, & Kumar, 1998), fibromyalgia (Donaldson, 2002), and for cognitive enhancement (Budzynski, 2000; Klimesch, et al.). Commonly reported success rates of 60 to 90% are reported  (Wright & Gunkelman, 1998).

Neurofeedback is an emerging neuroscience based clinical application based on the general principles of biofeedback or cybernetics. The Neurofeedback process involves training and learning self regulation of brain activity. Understanding the underlying principles of this process allows the therapist to provide referrals or treatment to their clients with some added understanding, and provides clients with  a framework for understanding the neurofeedback process. The following short paper will provide a quick review of the brain’s function, and the underlying process involved in neurofeedback, a technique  that will allow the client to better regulate and operate their brain.

The brain controls its own blood supply through the dilation and constriction of the blood vessels, and the blood flow is directed to areas that are more active through this self-regulation. The blood supply’s flow, along with the utilization of the oxygen and glucose the blood carries is measured as “perfusion,” a measure that is clearly seen in some of the modern imaging techniques, such as Positron Emission  Tomography (PET) and SPECT technology. Though these techniques are invasive, requiring the injection of small amounts of very short half-life radioactive materials, they do give good resolution of the perfusion due to the emission of the positrons, which are emitted from where the brain utilizes the oxygen and burns the glucose carried by the blood flow.

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Thalamic Involvement in the Generation of the Alpha Rhythms

Alpha… it’s not a simple idling rhythm… let’s look at alpha generators:

The thalamic involvement in the generation of the alpha rhythm is being under-valued when looking at the LORETA images of alpha current source generators. The alpha power may come from the sources that LORETA identifies, but the thalamus is intimately involved in alpha rhythm generation, and this is not part of the LORETA image of the sources.

The polarization within the thalamus sets the base frequency of the alpha, but the cortical rhythm requires a complex multi-layer feedback loop from the thalamus to the cortex, and back to the thalamus. Without the cortex, there is a total disruption of the normal spatio-temporal distribution of the alpha wave’s spike trains within the thalamus, and cortical damage often disturbs coherence due to this mechanism.

The thalamus distributes the alpha posteriorly via specific sensory relays, which have a simple return circuit. Like the white matter relay from the lateral geniculate of the thalamus to the occipital lobe’s primary visual areas, and directly back. This thalamo-cortical-thalamic loop is relatively faster than the loop seen frontally. The frontal return circuitry is not simple, but the descending routes are complex and somewhat circuitous, taking more time, and thus it is common for the frontal lobe’s alpha to be at the slower end of the individual’s alpha frequency range. The frontal lobe has a return path through the striatum.

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Vilayanur S. Ramachandran MD, PhD Video Collection

A collection of great videos on the brain from Vilayanur S. Ramachandran MD, PhD

The Boy with the Incredible Brain

This is the breathtaking story of Daniel Tammet. A twenty-something with extraordinary mental abilities, Daniel is one of the world’s few savants. He can do calculations to 100 decimal places in his head, and learn a language in a week. This documentary follows Daniel as he travels to America to meet the scientists who are convinced he may hold the key to unlocking similar abilities in everyone.

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Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease: LORETA findings

Thanks to Jay Gunkelman who made a very informative post on January 27 on this forum entitled Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. There he described the EEG patterns that we should expect and detect when evaluating for AD or other dementias.

I’d like to just throw out there a few other findings that were discovered in a few exploratory investigations while working on some studies with our colleague Alicia Townsend, at the time at Univ. of North Texas. Lexicor funded these projects and now the arrangements are such that I can’t disclose more than was published in the abstracts from our talks at ISNR and AAPB.  I did at least want to point to these very preliminary findings because theoretically they are in concert with your explanations.

First, we explored 10 participants between the ages of 65 and 85 were recruited at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.  Each was diagnosed by the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale and a medical interview.  The aim of the study was to identify current source density markers in AD.  EEG recording of the eyes closed condition of an AD group was compared to an age-sex matched control group using within-subject multiple t-test procedures. sLORETA difference maps in nine frequency bands were investigated. Interestingly the results showed that there was a significant increase in current source density in the delta and theta bands in the Brodmann Area (BA) 39 of the right temporal lobe and BA 31, the cingulate gyrus respectively.  Additionally there were decreases in alpha in the BA 21 of the right temporal lobe and right inferior parietal lobule (Sherlin, Townsend & Hall, 2006).

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A discussion on LORETA software use and licensing.

April 30, 2009
Leslie Sherlin, PhD

There recently has been some discussion regarding the use of low resolution brain electromagnetic tomography or LORETA, sLORETA and eLORETA. I felt compelled to make a few comments regarding this since there may be some confusion of how LORETA works and the usage of LORETA as an inverse solution specifically the licensing agreements of the KEY Institute for Brain-Mind Research at the University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zurich.

My intention is to very briefly explain the license agreement so that the end user can be informed. I’ll do so in an informal way by telling the story of the implementation of these methods from my perspective. For a more formal description of the use of LORETA families and some examples you can see a recently written chapter 4 by myself (Sherlin, 2009) in the latest edition of the book Introduction to Quantitative EEG and Neurofeedback edited Budzynski, Budzynski, Evans & Arbarbanel.

In 2000 I had the great privilege to visit with Roberto Pascual-Marqui PhD, the developer of the LORETA family, with my colleague and fellow student Marco Congedo. At this time the LORETA-Key software (Pascual-Marqui, 1994, 1999), had not been widely distributed and utilized in the United States. Marco had significant interest in using LORETA for visualizing brain activity and for exploring newer methods for neurofeedback and had many questions for Roberto. So upon the invitation of Roberto, Marco found funding to travel to Zurich and learn the details from the creator and I happen to be standing in the right spot at the right time. Roberto Pascual-Marqui trained us extensively on how to use his software, named LORETA-Key, which had been already released as free academic software. The LORETA-Key software is a collection of independent modules that the user must run in sequence in order to get from raw EEG to LORETA images.

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Neurofeedback Foundation Award 2009

In his role as the Managing Director of the Foundation for Neurofeedback and
Applied Neuroscience
John Fisher recently announced the Foundation’s selection of a recipient of the Neurofeedback Foundation Award.

The Foundation gives an award to the author(s) of the publication which has
“contributed the most to furthering the field of neurofeedback” during the
past year. Past recipients have included Drs Rob Coben, John Gruzelier, as
well as Johan Levesque and Mario Beauregard.

This year the Foundation has chosen Professor Dr. Juri Kropotov as recipient
of this years award, based on his book and the body of work Juri has
contributed over the years.

This award selection was announced recently at the EEG Spectrum Clinical
Interchange Conference in Los Angeles.  The award includes a gorgeous plaque
as well as an honorarium.

We salute both the Foundation for helping promote the fiend of NF, as well
as all the award recipients for their publications and the substantial
contributions they all have given to our field.

In Memory of E. Roy John PhD – World Renowned Neuroscientist

Life offers us many teachers, and we generally only learn a small sliver of what they have to offer from the breadth and depth of their experience.

One such teacher was E. Roy John, who most knew as a brain researcher, though he had so much more to offer… did you know he was “blacklisted” as a liberal, or that he worked on the Manhattan Project making Plutonium? Did you know he is considered the grandfather of Cuban Neuroscience? How about his love of boating…

Perhaps a quick look through his obituary will make us all appreciate just a bit more the actual magnitude of our loss from his passing…. And then you can look over the diagram of the brain and see some of the complexity of the models Roy passed on to those who now have to carry on without his wise counsel.

Joyful in having known him, and saddened by our loss,


In Memory of E. Roy John PhD

Brain Functional Diagram from Roy John PhD

Congressional Briefing on TBI for Wounded Soldiers

The Brain Injury Task Force offered its recommendations  to Congress today from a conference last fall, sponsored by the congressional task force on brain injuries.

The group suggested that an assessment tool be used in wartime to determine if a soldier should return to duty. It also recommended improvements to traumatic brain injury research,  identified the barriers to treatment and strategized on the improvements for continuum of care and more resources for families of troops with TBI. The Congressional Briefing was highlighted on front page of MSNBC in an article titled  “Better Brain Trauma Testing Urged for Troops”.

Letter to APA regarding qEEG

This letter has been sent to the American Psychological Association because they have for so long seemly ignored a growing number of psychologists who provide neurofeedback and QEEGs to people who have many disorders , often, disorders that were”incurable”.

Our organization needs to provide information regarding the types of training/treatment that has been proven  over and over to help clients that have severe impediments to their lives.  If you feel similarly and would like to either sign this letter or write your own, it may cause some movement in APA and the Monitor to recognize the services we provide.

Merlyn Hurd PhD;BCIAC/EEG Fellow
Editor of NeuroConnections the ISNR/AAPB Neurofeedback division

Letter to APA regarding qEEG – March 09 2009

James H Bray PhD, President APA
Rhea K. Farberman, Executive Editor Monitor on Psychology
750 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20002-4242

Dear Drs. Bray and Farberman,

Imagine the excitement of seeing “Brain Imaging” on the front of the Monitor for the March 2009 edition.  Finally, the APA is writing about QEEGs (quantitative electroencephalograms) and the types of work that is being done by thousands of psychologists in the neurofeedback world.

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