Brainwave curiosities

I occasionally enjoy just sitting with a bunch of electrodes on my head, watching the 2-channel waterfall display, trying different movements, talking aloud or silently, do mental arithmetic or reciting verse, anything, just to see what I can see on the EEG. The thing with EEG is that it’s only really useful for gross observations unless you have many-channel – anything approximating clinical results needs to draw on relative activity over many areas. With a two-channel, odds are that you’ll be looking in the wrong place when something interesting occurs.

0-30Hz over both SM strip and frontal lobe induced by clenching teeth. Clenching teeth induces way stronger activity than biting something hard. Wrinkling nose – nothing. Smiling – nothing. Grinning – nothing. 25-30Hz induced by raising eyebrows. Boosts in the 15-20Hz range occur when performing any sort of analysis or critique (a great way to negatively affect a sub-SMR session).

Gamma is elusive – it’s here there and everywhere, but I have yet to confidently correlate a gamma stimulus with an EEG deviation. This is somewhat unsurprising, as it’s hard to be everywhere with a two-channel EEG . Nevertheless, the inclusion of gamma in a session can have profound effects on the subjective experience and perceived improvements in cognitive function.

Anything below 10Hz relies on effective dismissal of fear and ego. To enter theta with the aid of AVS or without, requires a certain willingness to let go of control.

Eyes-open is rarely a good thing for eyes-closed sessions. Closing eyes is a signal for rest and our consciousness is “blinked” as well. Open-eye SMR and beta work well with any of the peripheral open-eye glasses, such as the Transparent 12-LED (I like the blue best) – great for focus, stimulation, motivation and relaxation for those with attention problems and for study, professional or personal intellectual pursuits, chess, complex puzzles.

Puzzles (long-period patterns, repetitive sequences with minor variants, etc.),  embedded in the session sound or light are different. Unless you happen to intercept an object and name it, the parts of the brain that decide what senses need attention are kept quietly amused, whilst the targeted alpha, theta or delta processes remain undisturbed. Often this style induces extremely broad-band activity – 5-30Hz in distinct, shifting peaks across the band. It is the nature of brainwaves that the higher frequency brainwaves are of lower amplitude than low-frequency and below 5Hz there’s all manner of overwhelming movement related activity – shoulder shrugs, neck stretches, back straightens. You’ve really got to be terribly still to get good reading below 5Hz and have excellent electrode connections. I love buzz-cut hair. A liberal gob of Ten20 on the contact electrodes and they stay in place with good, low impedance connections (checked with electrodes across the scalp with a multimeter).

For some obscure reason it’s mildly difficult to get abrasive surface prep paste locally. For myself I find its very satisfactory to rub Ten20 into a briskly scalp brushed with a good hair brush (pig bristle is awesome!) before EEG. It’s important not to smear too much Ten20 all over the scalp – it provides a lower impedance path across the surface and cause crosstalk between sites. Anything that is influenced by skin resistance is going to be impacted by swimming in salt or chlorinated or ozone treated water, until well rinsed and dried. I’ve also noticed reports that suggest that use of silver/silver chloride electrode application methods that involve breaking the skin, causing bleeding, invasiveness, are just nasty, with more bugs communicated than enhanced readings. The next really interesting stuff comes from a lot more channels, and from sub-scalp, and sub-cranial implanted electrodes. It would be so fun to get gold studs fitted by one of the local body modification specialists – probably too weird to be well received and more trouble to justify than worth the effort.

Most things that involve other people are best done if both have strong SMR range activity. Surprisingly hard to maintain as our way tends to be over-stimulated or bored. Boredom is usually results in some sort of attention seeking behavior or mischief. Alert, yet calm is ideal. Rarely are we well served by communicating from anywhere other than SMR. Anything from below is likely unintelligible in words. Anything from above is usually confrontational and better thought through while less hyped before vocalizing. Even one participant working from SMR is going to make for a much lower likelihood of misunderstanding or conflict.

As Waverider often says on the Transparent User Forum – YMMV. It’s a waffling description of what I’ve seen of my own brain activity as I’ve done silly things with and without AVS. Point to note – noise rocks for quieting brainwaves, even while it seems the sound is hissy and scratchy and irritating. It’s worth getting over any personal objection to any type of sound if you want to explore altered states.

There’s a lot of talk about specific frequencies. Many have very clever justifications, and if stimulated via the right senses, under the right conditions of isolation, nutrition or stimulation, can have effects hard to explain in terms of usual experience. Very few can be simply dumped into AVS sessions and expected to do anything – mode of delivery and foundation of expectation is everything.

I think my most important bucket list entry is to gain mastery of the one human being identified by “me” as “I”.


P.S. Sorry about the ultra sloppy earlier version – I didn’t realize that I had hit publish! Hopefully I’ve cleaned it up now to make some vague sort of sense!

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