Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Brain Gets Its Picture Taken, Finally!

Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Timing Diagram for...Image via Wikipedia

Well, I got my MRI of my brain, finally.  When I first went and saw a neurologist/neuropsychiatrist, I asked for one.  No dice.   Double checked with my GP.  No dice.   So, I let it go and figured that at some point I would like to do neurofeedback and that the test administrator would get one then.

Fine.  But in the interim, as we know,  I have had a lot of sensory issues related to neurology.  So I saw an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist.  He went over the balance and audiology tests that came out normal... and then said, "Gee, you have a lot of neurological issues (no sh-t!) and have you ever had an MRI?  I said, No but I would like one. So he ordered one.  Being a well-known otolaryngologist, I am sure he is a preferred doctor with the insurance company and I had no problems with precertification.

 I did the MRI at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and they took scads of pictures of my brain.  Honestly, the machine sounds like a jack hammer.  You would think  that with all the advances in technology, they could have figured out how to sound proof the machine.  Also, I had an MRI done earlier of my neck at St. Mary's Hospital and they gave me headphones with my choice of music.  As I had a good bunch of time to kill and nowhere to go since I was supposed to lay perfectly still, I decided to say the Rosary--sans beads, natch. (I knew my good Catholic training would come in handy at some point in my life.  I just never figured out that it would be in an MRI machine!).   I whipped through 3 or 4 decades of Hail Mary's and then the test came to an end.

Monday, March 29, 2010

And This is Why You Need to Keep Your Room Neat!

Lobes of the brain.Image via Wikipedia
Loved this blog post:
And This is Why You Need to Keep Your Room Neat!

I suffer from executive dysfunction:  lack of organization and time management.  This is what had kicked off my journey through the cortex.  I've been blogging alot about how to get my basic senses working: eyes, ears, smell, balance, motor skills, etc.  But at some point in the future, I will be creeping towards the frontal cortex (frontal lobe) and starting to blog about higher order functioning.  As Elkhonon Goldberg put it, My Head Has No Czar!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Everything you wanted to know about the Interactive Metronome But Were Afraid to Ask


Here's a link to a healthy amount of research on the Interactive Metronome.  Highly technical, so if you want to get down in the weeds, here they are!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Say What? What May Be Going On When Someone Misunderstands What You Just Said!

Image of Auditory Verbal from FacebookImage of Auditory Verbal
I've been concentrating so much on my vision lately that I haven't done too much thinking about my hearing.  I have Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) which means that I have normal hearing as far as my ears are concerned but not normal processing of the information that my brain picks up.  I am just coming to terms with what that means in my day to day life.

Here's a reblog from someone who has very similar problems to those that I have had with my hearing

Although my hearing is perfect, I yet have intermittent problems with perceiving and decoding what people are saying. It’s like having poor cell phone reception, where the signal gets static or drops out...

Verbal directions are hard to keep straight. A few summers ago I worked at a research farm, and the field boss Terry explained to me how to drive the tractor. At the time I had no trouble understanding what he was talking about, but the next day I was frustrated to find that I was unable to remember all the details and steps of what he had told me, and he was annoyed that a college student should have difficulty remembering something so simple!

Monday, March 22, 2010

How Wishful Thinking Got Us Into The Financial Meltdown: Our Brains Made Us Do It

Source: The National Institute on Drug Abuse, ...Image via Wikipedia

People have a better idea of what will happen financially today than they do in the future.

Studies of consumers show that a clear tendency to discount expected outcomes proportionate to their delays exist and often there is a preference reversal between the immediate and the delayed reward in the period of time just before the reward is due. Brain scans show which areas of the brain light up when immediate rewards are chosen vs delayed ones.

In short, do you want $30 now or $50 in the future? Most people take the money and run. However, given the choice between $30 in five years or $60 in six years almost everyone will choose $60 in six years, even though that is the same choice seen at five years' greater distance.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

PSA: Free treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Here's a Public Service Announcement that I'd like to pass on to anyone in the Philadelphia and New York City area:

The University of Pennsylvania is offering free treatment for OCD:

Since OCD is a co-morbidity of Nonverbal Learning Disorder and Autism, I thought I would pass this information along.

University of Pennsylvania has one of the best mental health departments in the country and they are doing  research and they need volunteers.

Next phase of Physical Therapy

Talked to the folks at A Total Approach and we decided that the next step would be doing the Interactive Metronome.   I am pretty excited about trying it and will do so after I get over some illnesses in my family.  So in about mid-April, I will do this therapy.  I think it probably will help with my motor problems, balance problems, hearing and executive function.

My hearing has improved somewhat, my speech still needs work, and my balance and motor skills have definitely improved.  My initial screening with the Interactive Metronome is averaging 100 ms overall and we are hoping to get it down to around 20 ms.

This round of therapy will be  about 15 days worth.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Brain Fitness Market

Resident getting brain fitImage by The Pointe at Kilpatrick via Flickr
Executive Summary
Advances in Neurotechnology are accelerating rapidly as a result of advances in neuroscience, electrical stimulation, biomaterials, and microelectronics.    The overall worldwide market for neurotechnology products will be $3.6 billion in 2008 and will reach $8.8 billion in 2012.  Neurotechnology industry revenues rose 10% to $120.5 billion in 2006; this includes neuropharmaceutical revenues of $101 billion, neurodevice revenues of $4.5 billion, neurodiagnostic revenues of $15 billion.  Venture capital investment in neurotech rose 7.5% to $1.67 billion in 2006.  Since 1999, venture investment in neurotech has increased over 250%.  Brain-related illnesses afflict more than two billion people worldwide and 100 million in North America.   There are over 500 drug, device and diagnostic neuroscience companies worldwide.  The annual economic burden of brain-related illnesses has reached more than $1 trillion in the U.S. and $2 trillion worldwide.

 A subset of the neurotechnology market, brain fitness is estimated to be $225 million in 2007, up from $100m in 2005 (50% CAGR). “The two segments that fueled the market growth: consumers (grew from $5m to $80m, 300% CAGR) and healthcare & insurance providers (grew from $36m to $65m, 35% CAGR).   Over 20 companies are offering tools to assess and train cognitive skills to four customer segments: consumers (individuals and institutes); healthcare and insurance providers; K12 school systems; and Fortune 1000 companies, the military, and sports teams.   The Nintendo Brain Age phenomenon has driven much of the growth. The consumer segment grew from a few million in 2005 to an estimated $80 million in 2007.  There is major confusion in the market, so education will be key. Users and buyers need help to navigate the maze of products and claims.   Over 400 residential facilities for older adults have launched computerized “brain fitness centers.” Sales to the healthcare and insurance provider segment grew from $35 million in 2005 to an estimated $65 million in 2007.   More than five programs have shown results in randomized controlled trials. Cognitive functions that can be trained include: visual and auditory processing, working memory, attention, and decision-making.   A product has obtained 510(k) FDA clearance for rehabilitation of stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury patients. Another product is being used by a growing network of ADHD specialists.  Large-scale, fully-automated cognitive assessments are being used in a growing number of clinical trials. This opens the way for the development of inexpensive consumer-facing, baseline cognitive assessments.  The potential for K12 Education remains largely untapped due to limited research linking cognitive training to academic performance.  Companies, sports teams and the military are finding opportunities to improve productivity.  Aging populations are increasing the prevalence of brain-related illnesses creating unprecedented demand for treatments that delay, prevent and cure chronic neurological and psychiatric illnesses”.(1)

Trends and Drivers

Demographic Drivers: 
 The average age of the US population is aging.  According to Census Bureau projections, the elderly population will more than double between now and the year 2050, to 80 million.  Much of this growth is attributed to the "baby boom" generation which will enter their elderly years between 2010 and 2030.  The number of those hit by the debilitating Alzheimers across the globe would quadruple by 2050, and the biggest jump is projected for Asia. At the moment the continent has almost half of todays Alzheimers patients, at 12.6 million. By 2050, the region will have 62.8 million of the world's 106 million Alzheimer's, researchers at Johns Hopkins University say.

According to the Kalorama Report, the market for treating depression is one of the most promising applications of neurotechnology devices. Both rTMS and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) are being targeted for these condition, and FDA approvals have recently been announced. The potential market opportunity is huge, with between 15 million and 20 million people in the U.S. alone who could potentially benefit. This corresponds to a market value of $12 billion to $15 billion.  Approximately one third of people suffering from depression do not respond to current treatments.

Social Drivers:  
The increased acceptance for inexpensive, self-administered treatments as opposed to hospitalization has increased the potential for brain fitness products.  Innovative modalities and new methods for evaluating effectiveness are proving the value of brain fitness products over drug regimens.

Economic Drivers:  
Brain Fitness Software is more cost-effective than other alternatives such as Neurostimulation Devices or Drug Regimens.   As part of cost control measures, prevention of illness is increasingly emphasized.  Adverse changes in regulations or reimbursements by Medicare, private insurers, managed care organizations or workers compensation could limit competitors’ ability to market and sell neurostimulation products and drugs.  Also, cognitive therapies and drugs are usually covered by insurance, while software is not. 

Research Funding

Federal Government Initiatives
  • National Neurotechnology Initiative:  `
  • NNTI plans to distribute $200 million per year in Federal funding as follows:
  • National Neurotechnology Coordination Office -- $5M to create and run a National Neurotechnology Coordination Office and advisory council (improves national coordination among agencies)
  • National Institutes of Health -- $80M to fund the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research (expands basic neuroscience infrastructure available to 16 NIH Institutes involved in the brain and nervous system) -- $75M to fund neurotechnology-related SBIR and STTR at the NIH (additional funding beyond current program to accelerate translational innovation and small business funding)
  • Food and Drug Administration -- $30M for the FDA to increase neuroscience-related staff and to develop workshops to develop neurotech standards (increases timeliness & safety of neurotech review process)
  • Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues -- $10M to develop a research center to conduct studies on the ethical, legal and social implications of neurotech (increases national coordination and industry growth)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury Initiative by the Veterans Administration.
Regulatory Trends
According to the International Journal of Marketing, FDA approval process can often take several years from the time a new product is conceived to the time that it is approved for market .  The average time for a PMA clearance is 11.9 months compared with 3.4 months for a 501K application.  Clinical trials generally add another year to the process.  The regulatory barriers affect not only the process of generating revenue but places constraints on marketing, public relations and customer service since the government places restrictions on what can and can not be said about products undergoing evaluation.

Clinical Trials:   Preliminary results from the IMPACT (Improvement in Memory with Plasticity-based Adaptive Cognitive Training) study are being presented today at the International College of Geriatric Psychoneurpharmacology's 8th Annual Scientific Meeting in Randwick, New South Wales, Australia. that show that after 10 weeks of training, significant group by time interactions favoring the experimental group (the Brain Fitness Program) were seen on the primary endpoint measure (RBANS Auditory Memory) and multiple within-modality but not cross-modality secondary endpoint measures.  The device used in this study was Posit Science’s Brain Fitness Program.

Intellectual Property Trends
 Risks include:  if a company fails to protect its intellectural property rights, its competitors can take advantage of its technology/property and compete directly.

Leading Research Centers
  • University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • Columbia University
  • University College London (UCL)
  • Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
  • RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan

Senior Communities Using Brain Fitness
  • Senior Star Community, Tulsa OK – Posit Science
  • Belmont Village Senior Living, Houston, TX – Dakim
  • Erickson Retirement Community, various communities 
    • Wii, Dakim
    • UCLA’s Memory Fitness
    • Posit Science 
Brain Fitness Technologies
  • List of Companies -- Software 
    • Advanced Brain Technologies
    • Applied Cognitive Engineering
    • Autogen
    • Brain Resource Company
    • BrainTrain
    • CNS Vital Signs
    • Cogmed
    • CogniFit
    • Cognitive Drug Research
    • Cogstate
    • Dakim
    • Gemstone
    • Houghton Mifflin
    • Lexia Learning
    • Lumos Labs
    • MyBrainTrainer
    • Nintendo
    • NovaVision
    • Posit Science
    • Scientific Brain Training
    • Scientific Learning
    • TeachTown
    • Wii
    • Lexicor qEEG
    • Thought Technology
    • Infinity System,
    •  FlexComp,
    •  ProComp,
  • Other NeuroTechnologies 
    • Hand held GSRs with all related programs,
    • EEGs,
    • neurotherapy systems,
    • SEMGs and muscle systems
    • Kiddie QR
    • Journey To The Wild Divine
    • Performance Enhancement System – Sue Wilson
  • Electrical and Magnetic Stimulation
    • Acumed Medical Supplies
    • Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (University of Toronto)
    • Advanced Neuromodulation Systems (ANS)/ Hi-Tronics Designs, Inc. (HDI)
    • Amrex Electrotherapy Equipment (Division of Amrex-Zetron
    • Austin Medical Equipment
    • Banner Therapy Products
    • Berkley Douglass Limited
    • BioMedical Life Systems
    • Chattanooga Group
    • Compex
    • CONMED Corporation
    • CPR Medical
    • Cyberonics
    • Delsys
    • Dynatronics
    • DynaWave
    • Electromedical Products International (EPI)
    • EME Services
    • Empi
    • Exogen/Smith & Nephew
    • Heart Math
    • Hill Laboratories
    • International Medical Electronics
    • Koalaty Products
    • LSI International
    • Magstim
    • MedFaxx
    • Medtronic (Medtronic Neurological)
    • Medical Services Company (MSC NESS Ltd.
    • NeuMed
    • Neuronetics
    • NeuroTech
    • Newcare Products
    • Noraxon
    • Northstar Neuroscience
    • OrthoLogic
    • Pharmaceutical Innovations, Inc. (PII)
    • Prizm Medical
    • Quality Health Products (QHP
    • Rehabilicare
    • Rich-Mar
    • RS Medical
    • Sparta Surgical
    • Somatics, LLC
    • Thought Technology Ltd
    • Vertis Neuroscience
    • Williams Healthcare Systems

SharpBrains, Aging in an Aging Society, Victor Marshall, UNC, Age in America Symposium, 1/1/08.
Sharp Brains
James Cavuoto, “The Market for Neurotechnology”, International Journal of Marketing, 1/18/02
“Electrical and Magnetic Neurostimulation:  Applications, Technologies, and Market Applications”, Kalorama Information, 9/04
Alzheimer’s Incidence Set to Quadruple by 2050”, Bio-Medicine
“First Cognitive Training To Demonstrate Generalization On Standarized Assessments Of Memory”, MarketWatch, 9/4/08,
Sonia Arrison ,“Thank Boomers for Buffing Up Brain Market”,
“Exercise Your Brain, or Else You’ll ... Uh ...”, New York Times, 5/3/08

Voyage to the Bottom

$2200 SGD Capsule (Pill) camera... PillCam® SBImage by David Yeo T. B. via Flickr
More on my poor GI system:

Just had a capsule endoscopy, which is basically swallowing a camera that takes pictures of the small intestine.   According to the Mayo Clinic's web page on capsule endoscopies, capsule endoscopies are done for the following reasons:
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding. Capsule endoscopy may help your doctor find the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding if other tests and procedures haven't been conclusive.
  • Crohn's disease. Capsule endoscopy may reveal areas of inflammation in the small intestine that can help your doctor diagnose inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease.
  • Cancer. Capsule endoscopy may show tumors in the small intestine or other parts of the digestive tract.
  • Celiac disease. Capsule endoscopy is sometimes used in diagnosing and monitoring celiac disease.
  • Polyps. People who have inherited syndromes that can cause polyps in the small intestine may occasionally undergo capsule endoscopy to screen for polyps.
  • Follow-up testing after X-rays or other imaging tests.
I am starting to wonder about all this poking about.... The medical profession is not doing a really good job at explaining if they what they are looking for  and what the path is to trying to diagnose conditions.  All I can see from both mine and other people's problems is that they seem to have a panel of tests, many of which are pretty invasive or not discussed in polite company,  that they seem to like to do.  The whole thing would be a lot more bearable, if the doctor could say, I am looking for the following conditions with this test.  Now, with the results of this test, I am confident that you don't have X, Y, or Z... so maybe, let's press on and look at disease A, B, or C.  But, I don't quite get much of an explanation as to what we are doing and where we are going.  All, I know is I've done an endoscopy, colonoscopy, fluoroscopy (you know, this is starting to be a lot of "oscopies"), given some blood and other samples and we are coming up bupkis....except that we are noticing some problems with fat malabsorption, vitamin deficiencies of B12 and D (first noticed by a nutritionist),  and some wheat and lactose intolerance.  Now we want to do another test.   So, here goes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fat Palooza -- I Can't Believe What I'm Eating

A pair of In-N-Out cheeseburgers.Image via Wikipedia
Well, from the sublime to the ridiculous, the Journey Through The GI (Gastroenterology System) subplot continues... 

After gathering some wool on the state of the universe in my previous post, I am now down in the ridiculous position of voyaging through my own inner tubes, namely the GI system.

I am checking now for fat malabsorption and need to load up on fat before the test.  I am supposed to eat between 60 and 100 mg of fat for 3 days.  I dont eat fat like this anymore!  It's actually kind of gross.  So, I figured the best place to get lots of fat is fast food...

Bleechh!  I go off to Wendys and order a Double Baconator, Fries and a Frosty Shake.   Yuck!  I probably will break out in a Big Nasty Red Zit.... my tummy will be in an uproar and will let me know about it.  It will get a few kicks in.  I'll bloat up and feel pretty discombobulated and disgusted about it.

You know, this stuff is expensive... this fine cuisine has cost me a whopping $8!  I have no idea how college kids can date... 2 of these would run $16 and then with movies running about $8 a pop, a guy on a first date is out $32!

Day 2 of the Fatpalooza
After a day of totally roiling my tummy, I decided to back off the junk  food and to up my fat intake by using organic peanut butter.  I got 76 mg of fat in. Also had a hot chili with beans... I know... that's not gentling the tummy.    Still feel pretty gross with my lower abdomen telling me how much it doesn't like me.   Went out and exercised to make sure that I was moving my system along.   Believe it or not, I am more than ready for a no-fat repentance.

Day 3 of the Fatpalooza
More peanut butter... feeling kinda blooorgy. Yuck.  Yuck. Yuck.  I am glad Day 3 is over.  I had gotten over fat 20 years ago and had been eating a low fat diet since then.   I don't feel good in my skin and am looking forward to a nice vegetarian meal to cleanse my system.  Did my little test and sent it in.  Glad its over.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The coming Noosphere

Note:  This is still a work in progress.  But here are some of my thoughts on how we will evolve. 
“We stand at the threshold of a new renaissance in science and technology, based  on a comprehensive understanding of the structure and behavior of matter from the nanoscale up to the most complex system yet discovered, the human brain. Unification of science based on unity in nature and its holistic investigation will lead  to technological convergence and a more efficient societal structure for reaching  human goals."
Roco, Bainbridge (2002)

The Noosphere is the Sphere of human thought and according to Verdansky, it is the third in the succession of phases of development on Earth.  The first two stages of development are the geosphere (the physical Earth) and the biosphere (the living Earth).  The Noosphere is the stage where mankind begins to create resources through the interaction of minds. 

I think we are at a critical point in time where the convergences of new technologies NBIC and the ability to link human thoughts through the internet and social media will lead to fundamental changes in the biosphere and in human relations on an individual level as well as a social and political levels.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Was Sesame Street Right? Getting the Ears, the Body and the Mind Work Together

 Come and Play 
Everything's A-OK
Friendly neighbors there
That's where we meet
 Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

Maybe  Sesame Street had it right?  Not that you can just park your child in front of a TV set, but having different learning styles reinforce each other.  I found this nice diagram from the web site describing how Hearing, Motor Skills and Executive Function work together.  This explains how treatment for auditory problems ripples through and affects motor skills and executive function.   My hunch is that there would be similar pathways for integrating vision, balance  or smell with motor skills and executive function.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Brain Dance

An animated gif of MRI images of a human head....Image via Wikipedia
Exercises from Brain Dance:

1. Breath: Take a deep breath through the nose, filling the belly, diaphragm, and lungs with air then exhale through the mouth. Repeat 4-5 times. Benefits: increases flow of oxygen to the brain; brings awareness of importance of breath for ease and flow of movement; reduces stress and enlivens brain and body.

2. Tactile: With your hands, squeeze strongly each arm and leg and the torso, back, head (whole body). Then tap lightly whole body, then slap sharply whole body, then brush smoothly whole body. Explore other forms of touch such as scratching, patting, rubbing, etc. Benefits: strengthens bonding; develops appropriate sense of touch, increases sensory integration.

3. Core -Distal: Move from the center out, through and beyond the fingers, toes, head and tail (distal ends). Then curl back to torso while engaging core muscles. Try movement involving the whole body that grows and shrinks, stretches and curls in big "X”s and little "o"s. Benefits: strengthens relationship to self & others; develops full body extension and awareness of core for correct alignment.

4. Head -Tail: Bend and stretch the spine from head to tail (coccyx) in different directions and pathways. Keeping the knees slightly bent helps release the pelvis. Twist, wiggle, and shake spine gently. Circle head and hips. Try yoga positions such as cat-cow and downward facing dog. Benefits: increases spine flexibility and neck and shoulder strength; helps one move through space with ease; creates an open path for central nervous system to function fully.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Beat

How binaural beats would sound after being pro...Image via Wikipedia
 Binaural beats for brainwave entrainment is a technique like hypnosis that bypasses the  conscious mind to work on the unconscious by altering electrical activity with rhythmic sounds.  Discovered by Professor Heinrich Wilhelm Dove in 1839, binaural beats are auditory brainstem responses which originate in the superior olivary nucleus of each hemisphere and  result from the interaction of two different auditory impulses, originating in opposite ears, below 1000 Hz and which differ in frequency between one and 30 Hz.   Rhythmicity,  providing understanding of temporal information processing in the human brain, entrains motor responses into stable steady synchronization states below and above conscious perception thresholds.

The difference between these two different frequencies  is perceived and generated by the brain as a binaural beat. Each binaural beat generates what are termed two "standing waves", one from each hemisphere. These two separate standing waves entrain the hemispheres toward the same frequency, which is 10 Hz: the mathematical difference between the auditory inputs.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vision Therapy Continued

Plastic anaglyph glasses can employ diopter co...Image via Wikipedia
I have been working on some more problems with convergence in Vision Therapy by wearing red and green glasses and viewing anaglyphic red/green pictures.  Also, I copy complex dot pictures by connecting rubber bands over pegs, or by putting pegs in a board.

Also, sometimes I am using the white flippers that the little girl is holding and looking at pictures through a small aperture. You slide the aperture slowly towards you and look through the  hole at two pictures and try to line them up.  

Brain Training for Peak Performance in Sports

Gulf Digest calls it the "hottest piece of equipment on the tour".  Sports teams such as NBA--Miami Heat, PGA--Vijay Singh, Glen Day,   NFL--Miami Dolphins, NHL--Florida Panthers, University of Notre Dame, Syracuse University,University of North Carolina, and the University of Miami use it, too.  So, what is it?  It's the Interactive Metronome, a computer based training program that has been shown to improve attention, coordination and timing for individuals.

In order to optimize a golf swing or  playing football, a number of activities integrating the brain and the muscles have to occur such as  dynamic processing () and integration between attention/concentration, motor planning (knowing the sequence and timing of  actions), sensory- motor coordination, timing, mental organization, and sequencing(which activity comes first and which is next)  are required.  It has been long recognized by sports champions that excelling at sports requires a mental component as well as a physical one.  There is a lot written about how to get into an inner game of tennis or golf.   Most of this requires thought directing the body. 

Apparently, the pathways to achieving the perfect shot are a lot more complex than just the interaction between the brain, eye and a particular muscle group.  Other pathways are important to the process such as the pathways directing the sense of balance (vestibular system) and the auditory system.  Training of precise timing in motor skills is linked to the timing found in the auditory system.  The Interactive Metronome works by augmenting internal processing speed within the neuroaxis and increasing “cognitive efficiency” in the information-processing bottleneck.  It is by increasing the brain's processing speed and improving its information processing, that the Interactive Metronome improves performance in sports and academics.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

IBM Blue Gene: Simulated Brain in a Super Computer

  IBM Blue Gene supercomputing architecture,

IBM has built the biggest artificial brain evera cell-by-cell simulation of the human visual cortex: 1.6 billion virtual neurons connected by 9 trillion synapsesDharmendra Modha has called this supercomputer,  "The Hubble Telescope of the mind, a linear accelerator of the brain...Imagine peppering the entire surface of the ocean with pressure, temperature, humidity, wave height and turbidity sensors," Modha says. "Imagine streaming this data to a reverse-engineered cortex." In short, he envisions wiring the entire planet—transforming it into a virtual organism with the capacity to understand its own evolving patterns of weather, climate and ocean currents. 

Modha's ultimate goal is simulating the entire human cortex, about 25 billion neurons, at full speed. To do that, he'll need to find 1000 times more computing power.  It is estimated that the technology to do so will be exist in about 2019. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vision Therapy Interim Results

An example of the Brock String in use for trea...Image via Wikipedia
Saw Dr. Herzberg and got the results from my interim assessment:

Binocular Vision:  Eye coordination/eye teaming was inadequate and is now normalized!  Apparently, my eye was turning outward.
  • Visual Memory Up!!! Went from the 9th percentile to the 85th percentile.  Yay!  This means what I see I can remember.  (Note:  According to George Mason University, apparently meditation can improve visual memory.  Deity Yoga where you zero in on an image of their deity, conjuring up a vivid, three-dimensional mental picture of it while honing in on the deity's emotions and environment apparently helps your visual memory)
  • Visual Form Perception:  TVPR-S Form Constancy went from 63rd to 95th percentile. 
  • Eye tracking Skills:  Developmental Eye Movement Test--Horizontal Tracking Speed went from 20th Percentile to 85th Percentile
  • Laterality Direction:  Gardner Recognition -- I pass    

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ringing in my Ears

"Tidens naturlære" 1903 af Poul la C...Image via Wikipedia
Just saw the ENT, Dr Bigelow, that I have been waiting for for a couple months.  Apparently, he's the bee's knees on ears, nose and throat.  He gave me the results from the hearing and balance test that I had earlier (see my post on waterboarding):  all normal (although the hearing test does not get too far into the central auditory processing problem).

We talked about tinnitus and I learned a fun fact about tinnitus and anxiety.  Apparently, as the tinnitus goes up, so does anxiety.  As anxiety goes up, so does tinnitus.  Wow.  What joy to know that I can really spin myself up into a frenzy of ringing ears and frazzled nerves.  Add to the fact that anxiety can increase the pain from the osteoarthritis of my neck and back, I have the potential to put myself in one real happy spot.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The One Who Posses a Hundred Husbands Did Not Get My Engine Going

Reference ranges for estradiol and progesteron...Image via Wikipedia
My nutrtionist suggested that my current cognitive problems might be affected by my hormones.   When I was younger, I had the adrenaline to just power through my problems.  At middle age, I stop producing progesterone and it affects the amount of adrenaline that I am putting out and so I just don't have the oomph to ally-up-and-over like I used to.

I am just going through the change.... I had never thought too much about it since I am one of the lucky 25% that don't have too much in the way of symptoms:  No night sweats, no moodswings, no hot flashes.   Except for maybe some forgetfulness and just kind of a blah feeling-- lack of drive.  It never really occurred to me that I am getting older.

When I saw my holistic doctor to get to the bottom of my tummy problems, I finally started asking about my hormones.  He checked them and found out I was low.  So he prescribed Shatavari, a Indian herb. Shatavari means one 'who possesses a hundred husbands'.  Well, The One Who Posses a Hundred Husbands Did Not Get My Engine Going.  Possessing One Husband is enough for me!  Although hubby did say I could take on a second one as long as Husband #2 did the housework and paid the bills--Hubby wants to be a passion plaything!

Well, Shatavari helped a bit but I still felt that I was sputtering along.  So he has switched me to a bio-identical hormone, Pregnenolone, "the grandmother of all steroid hormones".  So I'll try it and what happens.  As Alice In Wonderland said, "Eat Me".

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Interactive metronome at Home

Ever have problems keeping to the beat?  I do.  I always thought that it was just being spastic...but apparently, there was more to it.  In my case, spastic = Motor Apraxia.

I will probably be doing the Interactive Metronome (IM) next in therapy.   Basically, IM involves clapping to the beat with a special clapper and receiving feedback when you are off.  I am consistently early to a beat.  You clap in different ways with different parts of your body.  First you clap your hands and then you clap your hands on  your legs and then you tap your feet on a special footpad.  These claps are transmitted to a computer that tells you when you are off.

Interactive Metronome is a neuro-therapy device that incorporates motor planning, rhythmicity, and sensory integration.   Motor planning,  ie, figuring out how to move your body,  requires attention, sensory integration (integrating what your eyes are seeing, your ears are hearing, your body awareness, etc)  synchronization (getting every part of your body to work together), and rhythmicity (making sure that your body is working on cue).

IM helps improve skills in a wide variety of domains. It helps golfers and tennis players improve their swings.  It helps with ADHD and autism by improving concentration, motor planning, control of aggression, language processing and reading. Otherdy uses for the Interactive Metronome include Parkinsons, dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, speech disorders,

How does it do this?  In a nutshell, IM improves timing.  Timing is a fundamental process that cuts across a wide variety of functions in the brain.   You need timing to hit a ball, to move your body to a beat, to concentrate, and to read.  I'll be blogging more on this later.

I am very excited to do IM and am very hopeful.

Friday, March 5, 2010

GPS, Vision, Confusion and Distress

Lost (TV series)Image via Wikipedia

My Magellan 4700 GPS has been a god send.  I can be so incredibly disoriented while driving that I don't know where I really am at a given point in time.  Especially between exits on a freeway.  You know, without peripheral vision, the road is more like a tunnel that I travel down, so I don't have any of the cues or memories so I can get lost going down roads that I've frequently traveled.

The GPS has made a huge difference in terms of planning.  I punch in my errands (even the day to day ones around my little town!) and I let the GPS figure out the optimum route.  You can't believe how much more efficient I am in my daily life!  I just do what the GPS tells me to do.   Sometimes I reprioritize my errands to make sure the really important one gets done first.

Between using an automatic calendar and the voice commands of the GPS, I am getting controlled by machines and I am delegating a certain amount of free will to automatons!  This gives rise to some rather amusing observations about the relationship between man and machine... you know, kind of a 2001 Space Odyssey imagery arises.... I feel an odd passivity, at times... the machine is going to tell me what to do next.... and a loss of what psychologists and sociologists call agency, the capacity of a person to act in this world under his/her own free will.  Step by step, I obey my machines.  But, you know, my free will is doing too well by itself and does need assistance.   If you don't have good input from the senses and your poor executive lobes (portions of the brain that deal with complex thought) are compensating for the garbled senses and have their own issues, thank you very much, your free will is left roaming in circles in a thicket and loses its capacity to act upon its volition or thoughts.  On a bad day,  my poor free will is also overcome by the stress and anxiety brought on by disorientation and the consequences of not being able to conduct one's life in an organized fashion.