|Trauma Symposium 2012 Future of Psychotherapy Ethics Narcissistic Clients Couples Brain Science Men in Therapy Alan Sroufe The Future of Psychotherapy Attachment Linda Bacon Challenging Cases Couples Therapy Clinical Excellence Wendy Behary Clinical Mastery Anxiety Gender Issues Attachment Theory CE Comments Mindfulness Mind/Body Community of Excellence William Doherty Great Attachment Debate Etienne Wenger Diets David Schnarch Mary Jo Barrett|
|Alice in Neuroland - Page 8|
So, late last winter, I began driving 75 miles from my home to the toy-filled offices of Mark Steinberg, an educational psychologist in San Jose, California, and coauthor of ADD: The 20-Hour Solution . After running me through a battery of neuropsychological tests measuring concentration and attentiveness (I scored execrably on both dimensions), Steinberg devised a neurofeedback protocol for me, my own custom recipe. He'd give 9 minutes of alertness brain training by putting an electrode on the left side of my head--the seat of engagement with the external world--encouraging my brain waves to fire there at 15 to 18 times per second. Then he'd switch the electrode to the more nonverbal, mood-regulating right side of my head for 21 minutes of calmness training, encouraging slightly slower, SMR brain waves.
The left-brain training would rev up the more cognitive side of my brain and help my inattentiveness--a symptom of neurophysiological underarousal, as is mild depression. The right-brain training would mellow out the hemisphere specializing in mood regulation and tone down my impulsivity (a sign of overarousal). So, with an electrode pasted to my left scalp, I sat back in a leather recliner. A technician hit some keys, and I looked at a video screen showing the white wake of a boat stretching toward a brown volcano on the horizon.
When I was in the right zone, the computer beeped, I got a point, a star appeared in the video sky, and a wide strip of white spread toward the horizon. Sometimes the screen fell silent; at other times, I produced a river of continuous beeps. Whenever I earned 500 points, the volcano released a pretty cascade of colored balls.
On the first day, I hunched forward in the recliner, determined to succeed. I stared at the computer screen with narrowed eyes, afraid I'd miss something. The beeps hiccupped on and off like a car starting up on an icy morning. Then I consciously soft-focused my eyes and relaxed my clenched hands, and the beeps picked up.
In the next couple of sessions, I noticed that when the beeps stopped, I was usually monitoring and grading my performance. In time, I somehow monitored myself less, and got more beeps. After sessions four and five, I left the office feeling calm and buoyant. The long drive home was a breeze, even though I missed one exit and had to loop back. As I passed by San Francisco Bay, its gun-metal waters looked extraordinarily vivid.