Nootropics and Brain Wave Biofeedback for Optimal Brain Health
Ordinarly, there’s more hype than substance in claims about vitamins. As part of a presentation on brain health and Alternative Medicine this past September at Sovereign Health in Orange County, I discussed the many alternative medicine modalities under Alternative Medicine and CAM(Complimentary and Alternative Medicine). In my analysis, I felt there was great promise in alpha-theta brain wave biofeedback and in Nootropics vitamins for the brain. Nootropics have been around for some time. But it’s only been in the last 10 years that neuroscience has been able to corroborate the claims. Many studies today corroborate which portions of the brain are responsible for which behaviors and skills.
I am personally pretty good about taking vitamins and more recently purchased a few of the vitamins in the class termed, “Nootropics,” or vitamins for the brain. Nootropics time has finally come, and I feel their interest is also fueled in part today by energy vitamins such as 5-hour Energy, and ADHD stimulant prescription drugs like Adderall.
One of the Nootropics pioneers is TruBrain who produces a popular brain performance concoction under the same name (www.Trubrain.com) that has garnished good reviews. There’s no hype to this product. It really does boost brain performance. But, it will run you upwards of $80-$125 per month.
Then I came across two blogs (inverted below) that discuss the individual Nootropic components in TruBrain. The 2nd blog even gives a detailed costs breakdown and finds there is about a 50% markup when buying TruBrain over the individual Nootropics when purchased separately.
I examined the breakdown of components in TruBrain and noticed that it did not include ALL available recognized Nootropics. In particular, what are missing are Mucuna, 5-HTP, GABA, and L-Phenylalanine. I’ll get back to this later. The next step is in determining which Nootropics will be most beneficial to you.
How to Determine your Needed Nootropics
To understand your own needed Nootropics, I felt it critical to examine the various neurotransmitters or neurochemicals (as they are interchangeably called) and their role in brain function and brain performance. I’ve inserted a slide below that identifies ten (10) recognized neurotransmitters. I’m not convinced of its entire accuracy as it appears dated. But it provides a good overview. There’s also plenty of information available on web sites and vitamin pages (with detailed reviewer comments) such as Amazon.com. Amazon sells vitamins at some discount compared to my area Mother’s Market store. But, do your own comparison shopping.
I examining the individual neurochemicals of the brain, you should begin by making a list of known medical conditions for which you are currently receiving treatment, or have received treatment for in the past, plus a list of associated symptoms and complaints. Now look these complaints up on the “Neurotransmitters and their Effects” slide below, or one by one look up the various Nootropics on Google, or Nootropic product information/uses on Amazon.com, and write down the Nootropics you find may be connected to any medical conditions or deficiencies you have. Label this Critical Nootropics.
Next, make a list of brain performance characteristics you would like to improve about yourself. This could be performance qualities related to a job, or sports, or your personal life. Label this list Optional Nootropics.
Next, assemble a list of your current medications, and look up their contraindications and clashes with vitamins on this Drugs.com page. Write down any vitamins listed as having a possible conflict or contraindication on your medications.
Below is a link to neurochemicals (neurotransmitters) on wikipedia:
In deciding which Nootropicsto individually buy, look up the Critical Nootropics on your list online say at Amazon.com. Amazon makes it very easy to navigate from Nootropic to Nootropic by clicking on the “Buyers also Bought” or “Similar Products” recommendations under each Nootropic, and write down a few words on each along with costs and dosage information. You can read reviews now, or wait til later. All you want to do at this phase is find your critical Nootropics, and get an idea of the typical strength, cost, and popular manufacturers.
Next, do the same for your Optional Nootropics. Now look over list of contraindicated vitamins and write an “X” over any that appear on either of your Nootropics list. The next challenge for you (as is for many of us) is which one’s can you afford? I think if you took all available Nootropics, you’d be shelling out upwards of $140 per month. The costs analysis blog by John Backus gives a nice breakdown and costs of the Nootropics in TruBrain, and then you can add the others I identify further below.
As a guide, the two most commonly supplemented neurochemicals are seratonin (for daytime mood & brain performance) and dopamine (your natural pain killer/mood tranquilizer). After these, come endorphins and cannabinoids which are produced during exercise, but can also be supplemented. Cannabinoids are reported to be found in different strengths of medical marijuana.
Now the typical reason(s) for taking Nootropics is to aid cognition, pain management, mood and happiness, sleep, and management of stress. It is refreshing to see true facts about vitamins. No need to hype. Nootropics do really work!
Best Nootropics for Brain Health
I have been taking a handful of Nootropics over the last few months along with good multi-vitamins without much noticeable benefit or change in my complaints. This included L-Glutamine, Acetyl L-Carnitine, L-Tyrosine, Turmeric, and COQ10.
The TruBrain blend contains: Piracetam, Choline (Citicoline), Acetyl L-Carnitine, EPA & DHA, Magnesium, Pramiracetam, L-Theanine, and Tyrosine.
I recently began taking Mucuno and 5-HTP – and noticed these helped mental clarity and acted as a mood enhancer/pain management. Next, I will add either of Citicoline or Piracetam (also taken with Pramiracetam) to help with cognition and memory.
Mucuna is reported to aid dopamine production (your brain’s natural pain killer), and 5-HTP is reported to aid the production of seratonin (critical in daytime brain function & mood). Citicoline, Piracetam, and Pramiracetam are reported in medical studies to aid cognition, mental focus, and memory.
If you Google any of these Nootropics today, you will find supporting studies from recognized medical institutions, something that has only come about in the past 1-2 years. Ginko Biloba is now moot today as a memory enhancer. And Omege-3s were reported to no longer prevent brain aging and dimentia. I’m not exactly sure what’s recommended now to ward off the effects from aging. Perhaps EPA and DHA as they are fatty acids.
Now the challenge is in determining which Nootropics you need versus what you can afford. For me, Mucuna and 5-HTP provided an excellent mood, pain relief, and energy boost. But I know that I must take a cell foundation Nootropic such as Acetyl L-Carnitine, and a cognitive enhancer Piracetam or Citicoline, or both. Tyrosine and Theanine are also foundation Nootropics and aid dopamine production, as does L-phenylalanine, which also aids dopamine and tryptophan in seratonin production. But use caution with L-phenylalanine as it is a strong stimulant and mood enhancer. The two protective Nootropics thought to replace Omega-3s in brain health are now EPA & DHA. Two more Nootropics involved in the production of neurochemicals are Taurine and Glutamine. And Turmeric & CoQ10 are particularly helpful if you suffer from problems or disorders with nerve cells or inflammation.
The Nootropics SAM-e and St. John’s Wart are used for depression. However, I would try the above core Nootropics first. Then, speak to a physician about using the anti-depressant vitamins.
Nootropics are available at a variety of online sites, including, Amazon.com and e-Bay. You should also take a good multi-vitamin, and hydrate, and get regular exercise. If you’re like most of us, costs will be an issue. So take some foundation Nootropics, and then those that support your defficiencies or particular needs. And if costs isn’t an issue, I recommend taking all of the above. Next, I discuss “rhythm” activities and “biofeedback” you should undertake to optimize your brain waves, which play a mjor role in behavior, mood, cognition, pain management, and health and wellness.
Alpha-Theta Brain Wave Biofeedback thru Drumming
In my work as a drum circle facilitator, I put on drumming workshops to aid brain function, general health and wellness, team-building, and exercise and fitness. And I speak on drumming and the brain, and how it can be used in a variety of settings.
The DiaCeph Test was created in 1997 to evaluate CNS shunt performance in patients with the disorder, hydrocephalus. It is a mathematical formula and algorithm born out of my experiences as a patient and patient advocate, and from 18 years of experience in diagnostic nuclear medicine, including, with hydrocephalus and software.
DiaCeph’s algorithm uses a weighted probability of a patient user’s clinical complaints, or complaint markers, to the most likely of (17) types of malfunctions that can occur with a CNS shunt. The results are displayed and ranked in order of probability. In addition, the markers are plotted on time vs complaint level graphs, where they are compared to the patient’s baseline markers and earlier shunt outcomes. The impetus for creating the DiaCeph Test came from my poor post surgical outcomes and frustrating diagnostic experiences as a patient user for hydrocephalus following a 1992 auto accident. I’ve used my DiaCeph methodology (paper forms) to track the shunt outcomes, make shunt valve pressure predictions, and diagnose shunt malfunctions for my last (8) shunt revisions. Still in 2016, there is no reliable diagnostic means to determine how well a CNS shunt is working. The DiaCeph Test could readily be made into a mobile app, providing the necessary funding, administrative, and FDA regulatory requirements can be satisfied.
DiaCeph Test born out of an FDA Petition & Unmet Need in Hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus is the leading neurosurgical disorder in children, often resulting as developmental changes in utero, shortly after delivery, or by brain cysts early in life. It occurs in seniors in the form called NPH, or normal pressure hydrocephalus, and in the past NPH was often confused with dementia and/or Parkinson’s Disease. It can also occur following trauma and tumors in the brain. It is most often treated by surgical insertion of a “CNS shunt,” which the patient will live with the remainder of their life, and which are very problematic technology often requiring surgical replacement.
My DiaCeph data app slide above is from my original (1997) design of the DiaCeph Test. This came out of my research in authoring an important 1996 FDA petition on anti-siphon shunts. I was familiar with hydrocephalus and CNS shunts from my many years of diagnostic work in nuclear medicine, where I worked with software and regularly wrote procedures, and occasionally basic software code.
I had been a patient user of CNS Delta valve shuntsfor hydrocephalus since 1992, and had experienced unexplained poor outcomes from three surgeries over a period of four years. In 1996, I learned of a new critical study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery by a well known Japanese neurosurgery group, that cited specific safety & performance issues with Medtronic PS Medical Delta Shunts & Anti-siphon devicesthat seemed remarkably similar to complaints I was experiencing. Sadly, neither my treating physicians, shunt manufacturers, or the Food & Drug Administration were able to help me.
In November of 1996, I petitioned the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health with this important FDA petition on CNS anti-siphon shunts, concerning problematic CNS shunt technology which I had been implanted for 4 years, and was experiencing unexplained poor outcomes. It was in 1996 that a critical study was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery regarding the risks of using anti-siphon devices. The petition took me almost a year to prepare, and required that I obtain supporting FDA records on microfiche, obtain and learn the federal government’s applicable CFRs to CNS shunts, pay a librarian consultant for many of the (52) cited studies, and carry on correspondence with Ralph Nader’s group Public Citizen.
What I learned, was that between 1976-1996, many thousands of patients had been implanted with MedtronicDelta valves & Heyer-Schulte anti-siphon shunts and that about one-third of these were experiencing the kinds of poor outcomes as cited in the Higashi et. al. J. of Neurosurgery study. Higashi and his team described these shunt performance issues as “functional obstructions” of the CNS shunt system, most of which occured in the upright posture. However, some were reported with sleeping and other external pressure over the body of the shunt valve. What made the problem particularly challenging, was that there was no available (in-vivo) diagnostic test to identify and quantify the issue in patients. Available CT/MRI and shunt patency testing was usually “negative” for shunt malfunction, which is termed a “false negative.” Higashi and his team then cited the need for a new type of diagnostic test to identify these shunt outcomes issues in affected patients. Once I authored my petition, my next challenge was in creating a new type of test to evaluate these shunt performance issues.
I sought out a method to chart & analyze non-invasive clinical markers in hydrocephalus in different postures, and during different times of the day. This was 1997, and the same year researchers at the U. of Pittsburgh and Henry Ford Institute, were quietly doing this to monitor sports concussion. It took me more than a year, during which I also consulted aerospace scientists on possible math formulas. Once it passed the first proof of design phase, I expanded my test to evaluate any type of problem with any type of CNS shunt. And then I aptly named it the DiaCeph Test. Dia– meaning to diagnose. And Ceph– meaning of the brain. The design and proof of concept were completed in Sept. of 1997. And then I began using it to evaluate my Delta shunt for corrective revision.
Initially, I was going to “give my method away” to one of the shunt manufacturers. But it was a friend from little league baseball who convinced me to try and PATENT it. Which I did via the law firm Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear. The photo above was taken just days after my Feb. 1998 shunt revision where I used the DiaCeph Test to help determine which type of shunt would fit my CSF outflow needs.
My experience in nuclear medicineand working with hydrocephalus and diagnostic software proved invaluable in the creation of the DiaCeph Test. Over my 18 years of nuclear medicine (beginning in 1975), I had authored hundreds of diagnostic procedures, set up hospital imaging procedures, started and run an imaging company, and provided diagnostics for a wide range of medical conditions. Two of those tests for hydrocephalus were cisternograms and shuntograms.
In 1997, my DiaCeph Test was so new, it didn’t have a category name. But today, these type of applications are widely termed, “mHealth.” As such, my DiaCeph Test design was one of the earliest mHealth tests, and remains state of the art still in 2016. But, designing it was no simple task. I had to contend with frequent cognitive or memory difficulties, shunt malfunctions, terrible headaches, and lack of funding.
In 1998, I filed my full patent on the DiaCeph Test and formed the start-up, DiaCeph, Inc. DiaCeph was to be a dedicated PDA app, like the Palm Pilot that had just become available. The Internet at that time was just mature enough then to allow patient data and results to be sync’d with a PC either at the patient’s home, or at the physician’s office. I proposed how a server could allow uploading & sharing of patient results.
DiaCeph can analyze non-invasive user data and render a diagnosis of the type of shunt malfunction. I created a series of clinical markers (as can is seen in the slide above), and by establishing a patient’s baseline normal values, incident results could be compared and produce a diagnosis based on the change from normal. Where there was no comparitive data, the program still aggregated resulting data and compared it with the most likely data known by the program for the different types of shunt malfunction. I was advised that patients not be given access to the results by FDA and others involved in the project. Today we know its best to give patients this information. Below, is earlier web site information on the DiaCeph Test. Below that, an Orange County Business Journal‘s 1999 story about the DiaCeph Test entitled, “The Accidental Inventor.”
DiaCeph underwent initial evaluation and development at the University of California Irvine (UCI). My lead physician was the long time neurosurgeon and professor, Dr. Eldon Foltz, who was excited about the DiaCeph Test and offered to mentor me. He shared he had been trying to develop a similar test since 1980. Dr. Foltz helped me form a board of medical advisers at UCI, and introduced me as an mHealth pioneer.
After the FDA granted my shunt petition in Sept. 1998, I was invited to attend the FDA’s STAMP Technology Conference in Bethesda, MD, which was to address shunt safety issues as cited in my petition. However, the conference never did! Nor were these CNS anti-siphon shunt challenges discussed, nor DiaCeph mHealth concept. And neither was I was not invited to appear on the conference panel, despite being the person who helped create the conference. As a result, my DiaCeph Test and similar solutions never received the exposure they deserved. It no doubt hurt prospects for the DiaCeph Test at a time it was badly needed, and amid my limited resources as a patient developer.
As time went on, I looked for new novel ways to utilize the DiaCeph methodology. Below, are SlideShare.net slides of new (July 2016) DiaCeph Test NPH Instructions, a NPH 6-Marker Form, and a new Chronological Outcomes Form or “flow chart” for creating a patient record of many years with various shunts, opening pressure settings, and hydrocephalus outcomes (complaints/status) in a patient. There are instructions on how to complete the historical flow chart in the back of the NPH instructions.
These materials are FREE to use. But if you have questions or would like my assistance with monitoring or related hydrocephalus and shunt issues, please contact me directly. My consulting rates are $125 per hour.
DiaCeph Test MONITORING INSTRUCTIONS
DiaCeph Test MONITORING FORM
DiaCeph Test FLOW CHART
DiaCeph, Inc. as a Brain Software Company
By 1999, I was exploring other brain apps & software and making plans for this as part of DiaCeph, Inc., to be an innovator in this space. This was prior to the advent of Google apps, social networking, and mobile tech leaders like Samsung and Apple. At that time, the only two mHealth apps under consideration were by Aetna’s health division for CHF and asthma. I was also in communication with Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, the Coleman Institute, and other institutions involved in assistive cognitive technologies. I presented DiaCeph to a number of university centers and medical device companies. But I could not get any committments to partner or fund it. Apparently, no one saw my vision.
By 2003, I had begun to move on to other neuroscience interests. My brain also remained significantly swollen due to unresolved and mis-understood hydrocephalus, and kept me on disability, working only part time. I could not get a neurosurgeon to undertake additional surgery without diagnostic documentation. It was a Catch 22! I believe if the DiaCeph Test were available then, it would have answered these diagnostic questions.
In the end, the DiaCeph Test was never made into a PDA app due to lack of funding, FDA regulatory barriers (costs), and lack of support from medical device companies in the field of neurosurgery. However, DiaCeph could still be produced today as a mobile data app. I wrote up a “creative brief” in 2014. The challenge now lies mainly in the FDA regulatory costs of mHealth apps, where estimates have said to be in excess of $1M. It is doubtful this cost could ever be recouped in sales of the app. So I prepared wider prospects for other neurological apps in my expanded Creative Brief.
Hydrocephalus today still faces considerable mis-diagnoses due to unavailability of imaging and mHealth solutions. Radiologists regularly mis-interpret CT and MRI brain scans, which leads to undiagnosed shunt malfunction and incorrect settings of programmable shunts. This in turn has resulted in significant quality of life issues and costs for patients living with hydrocephalus.
Below, is a screen shotof a CT/MRI mHealth Display method I’ve been using since about 2002. This helps to organize CT and MRI scans into useful formats for review by your physicians, especially when there are many scans over a period of years. At present, the link is to a blog I authored on LinkedIn. I hope to sometime elaborate further on this in a new company blog. I also consult on preparing these at my same $125 per hour rate.
You should obtain CDs of all your CT/MRI brain scans. The method allows for review of 1000s of CT & MRI images by placing the most critical images in a chronoligcal sequence for comparison. These displays can also reduce interpretation medical errors.
To create these, I first create folders on my PC for each CT or MRI series. Then I export the images as JPEGs into the respective folders using the media software included in the radiology CD disc. Next, I review, select, and label the relevant images and copy them to special forlders where I arrange them in chronological order for better viewing. This format makes interpretation much more scientific, and it minimizes any human (visual) error during interpretation.
This method is particularly important in hydrocephalus care – where it is common to have dozens of studies and 1000s of CT and MRI images for review. This mHealth display method would benefit radiologists, neurologists, and neurosurgeons involved in hydrocephalus care and other care involving CT and MRI studies.
This method allows for more detailed evaluation of shunt settings, shunt performance, and shunt malfunction. I put these mHealth methods to good use in my hydrocephalus consults and shunt monitoring services.
Once you have assembled the critical MRI/CT Images Folders, they can be easily sync’d and copied to folders on your mobile phone and tablet device. Then when you see your physician, you’ve got all your CT and MRI images neatly organized for review.
Below, is a diagram of my current shunt valve, the Codman Certas valve, which was implanted in Nov. 2012. However, in May 2013, it was recalled due to stability issues during MRI exams.
The DiaCeph App today could be made as a mobile data app and text app (for use in developing countries). It would enable 24/7 monitoring of hydrocephalus and could be coupled with a variety of neurological, EEG wave, and other apps now available.
I’ve been providing NPH/Hydrocephalus Monitoring Services & Patient Consults with DiaCeph paper forms/instructions since 2009. I also host FREE monitoring forms and information on hydrocephalus. My experience with hydrocephalus now spans 18 years of diagnostic work in nuclear medicine, and 21 years in FDA regulator affairs, CNS shunt reviews, mHealth design, cognition and assistive technology, drumming & music therapy, and global patient consults for affected individuals/families around the world.
I also host two consult reports on the top blog above (Hydrocephalus NPH Monitoring by Stephen Dolle). The first report was completed by a legally blind man. I provide each patient a custom set of forms and instructions. If an mHealth app were available, it would direct patients or users in the collection of this data, and then offer physicians the data in a finished format for earlier diagnoses, intervention, and surgery.
Early on, after I was implanted with a VP shunt for hydrocephalus, I began to seek creative comfort in stories about Super Heroes. As an inventor, I also began to equate living with a CNS shunt implant to the Terminator character in the movie of the same name. Eventually in 2013, I created a fun web site and Facebook page for hydrocephalus – where I began to write about “super-heroes” for hydrocephalus. Here I am today pictured below in a current photo following a speaking engagement. My rates are very reasonable, and I have a list of topics I speak on. Contact me for more information of this.
I have undergone 12 brain operations, or shunt revisions as they are termed, since my initial diagnosis in 1992. I became a shunt device, hydrocephalus “expert,” and early inventor of an mHealth mobile app, the DiaCeph Test. It was my 1996 petition to the Food & Drug Administration as a CNS shunt patient that led to my designing the DiaCeph Test. My efforts then helped bring about the 1999 International STAMP Conference in Washington D.C. At that time, many in industry felt the conference and FDA upholding my petition were heavy handed actions designed to hinder innovation in industry. But in the years since, it has been shown to be just the opposite, that without mHealth tools and patient engagement, there will be less innovation, more challenges for physicians, higher costs & disability rates for patients, and a lower quality of life for those affected. It is time for industry, FDA, and Congress to stand in our shoes! In 2015, I also published my current health challenges with hydrocephalus and a related neuromuscular disorder on my blog in this case study.
Many of the CNS shunts in use today are programmable shunts, where pressure and flow rate can be externally adjusted for each patient. But, many of these devices have been susceptible to inadvertent reprogramming from household appliances and technology magnetic fields. At present, FDA does not allow patients to own the reader or programming tool to help manage these unforeseen events. I would love to develop a mobile app or accessory tool to allow patients to check the setting of their shunts.
Other Brain Apps
I use other brain apps on the Android Play Store to help with the management of hydrocephalus, including, a Decibel Meter, EMF Detector by Smart Tools, and a Weather & Barometric Pressure app by Elecont Software. The more recent availability of EEG readers has further elevated the prospects of brain apps in neurological care, and in meditation and mindfulness – SEE my other blogs for information on these.
I advise and write about brain apps, often helpful in hydrocephalus and other neurological disorders. In this blog, I share tips on design & using apps:
The slide image below is the barometric pressure reading from my Elecont weather app.
DiaCeph Development Costs and Other Barriers
Estimates to develop a hydrocephalus mHealth app are as high as $1M. Requirements by FDA are driving these high costs. In developing countries, FDA guidance does not come into play. And for those regions, a “text app” version of the mobile data software could be created to do monitoring on a standard mobile phone, and text the results to a regional hospital or clinic. My DiaCeph Creative Brief is currently 16 pages. I understand this is too large for most reviews. So I am preparing a “short” and “long” version.
I understand there are organizations who could help develop or fund my mHealth app project. My wish would be to work with a mHealth software group and provide the guidance and expertise to develop the DiaCeph app, and then advise on other applications.
Currently, development of mHealth apps for disease management have become a political ball game between patient advocates, the Food & Drug Administration or FDA (backed by big corporations), and Congress. Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in Congress by Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Angus King (I-Maine), identified as the PROTECT Act(Preventing Regulatory Overreach To Enhance Care Technology). The bill has garnered the support of IBM, athenahealth, the Software & Information Industry Association, and Newborn Coalition and McKesson.
Shortly after introducing the act, the legislators penned an editorial in USA Today calling FDA’s regulatory process burdensome and a hindrance to innovation. One organization, with connections to big pharma lobyists, calling itself the mHealth Regulatory Coalition (MRC), has come out and opposed it. But I suspect they don’t live with a medical condition like hydrocephalus, that would benefit from these mHealth app innovations.
Many individuals with hydrocephalus have had 100 and 200 surgeries, and live a very poor quality of life. Quality of live, and unnecessary brain surgeries, would no doubt be improved with the availability of mHealth app diagnostics.
If you are interested in development of the DiaCeph Test, obtaining a hydrocephalus consult, mHealth consulting, or my speaking at an event, please contact via the information below.
Guns vs. Drums: Which is better for your mental health?
There’s been another mass shooting in the U.S., and this time at a community college in Oregon. Like so many of the other shooters of these mass shootings, the shooter also suffered from a learning disability and likely related sensory processing disorder (SPD) and mental health issues. But why are these individuals and their families advocating the use of guns and related shooting activities say at gun ranges – as a form of MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY?
But unlike President Obama and so many gun control advocates (and zealots), I see this from a different angle. I see it from the perspective of misguided practices across the U.S. for persons with developmental, learning, and mental health disorders – whose families believe that gun recreation & shooting is the right THERAPY for their brain health challenges.
Now I know a lot about brain health as I have been living with the disorder, hydrocephalus, since a 1992 auto accident, and became a neuroscientist and drum circle facilitator as a result of challenges I and so many others face today. I put on drumming workshops for a wide variety of brain disorders. I see with from a different angle, and I see firsthand how engagement activities can help, or hurt the affected individual.
My heart goes out to the families with children with developmental and mental health disorders as they’ve been looking for activities and outreach for their children for many years. I see the parents’ fear and exhaustion when they bring their adult children to my workshops. But in the case of so many of the mass shootings in the U.S. over the past 20 years, it appears many were carried out by individuals with development or brain health challenges, and it was their parents that got them into gun recreation – thinking it will bring them peace and help them better integrate into society. But, what we’re finding in these shootings, is that they are mis-using the guns to act on “untreated” brain health issues. And in these cases, other activities and therapies need be undertaken.
There is actually a lot of similarities in the sensory and personal qualities of guns vs. drums. In each, it is the vibration and sounds that provides a brain “buzz” of sorts. Both also give the individual an enhanced feeling of importance. But that’s where it ends!
Affected individuals are often drawn to activities like guns, drums, and even auto racing for the sensory “highs” they provide, much like a drug. Parents often feel gun recreation and therapy helps maintain calm, and ward off mental health and SPD meltdowns. But the brains of many of these individuals are often not high functioning enough to know the difference between right vs. wrong – and with a gun, automobile, or other deadly device, it can be a lethal combination. And the vast majority of affected individuals also face challenges in cognition, sensory processing disorder, and cognitive accessibility. In medical terminology, I would call ill-advised recreation with guns “contraindicated.” And as for alternatives, there are many!
I have been involved with drumming, or drum circles, for 11 years now, and I put on a variety of drumming workshops for the brain, and with excellent results.
The sound & vibration of the drums effects one’s brain waves, and its group activity qualities allow for team building, leadership, and creative expression. On a therapeutic level, drumming acts as neurofeedback, sensory, and occupational therapy all in one, and helps to normalize associated cognitive, behavioral, and sensory complaints in these disorders.
My web site and blog links below detail health science information drumming, basketball, and alternative medicine modalities
Again, to me the bigger issue is WHY parents are advocating the use of guns & gun recreation in unstable children with mental health disorders? There are so so many recreational and outreach activities far more ideal for these children, many of whom are now adults.
On a political level, it seems the Obama administration is more concerned with gun control, and the plight of illigal immigrants and refugees from Syria, than the plight of Americans and American families with children with developmental and mental health disorders.
In my view, these shootings are not so much a problem about guns, but a problem about the lack of understanding of mental and developmental health, and how to best care for these individuals as adults. Sixty years ago, many of these shooters might have been institutionalized. We’ve moved away from that, but we’ve failed to modernize our practices. This has been an evolving crisis for many years!
In my addiction blog above, I detail the science of many of these disorders, and share results from many alternative and sensory therapies. In addiction disorders, both mental health and learning disorders often occur together as “dual disorders.” I recently spoke on this new area of brain science at Sovereign Health. I am involved with drumming and drum circles for these disorders, and have seen great results.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Methods in Addiction Treatment
Stephen M. Dolle
CEO, Dolle Communications
Neuroscientist, Drum Circle Facilitator, and Hydrocephalus Survivor
Presented Sept. 9, 2015
Sovereign Health, San Clemente
Presentation on CAM in Addiction
Overview of Addiction
Medical Sequela in addiction
Prospects in Managing Health Complaints thru mHealth
Cognition and Addiction
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Neurotransmitters of the Brain
Brainwave States of the Brain
Types of CAM/Alternative Medicine Therapies
Alternative Therapies in Addiction Treatment
Most Promising CAM Therapies per my Research
There are many types of addictions, and many different approaches to the physical and psychological needs of individuals affected by addiction. In this presentation, I examine complementary and alternative medicine and CAM methods in drug & alcohol and other addiction treatment. Sovereign Health is a full service addiction treatment organization serving Orange, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties.
My affiliation with addiction treatment is mostly through my work as a drum circle facilitator, where group drumming, or drum circles, is used as an efficacious method of treatment, and with very good success. My other connection is in living with the condition, hydrocephalus, where I share similar cognitive, sensory processing, and chronic fatigue complaints to addiction.
One of the notable neurological sequela is sensory processing disorder, or SPD. It is often secondary to many neurological and learning disorders. I discuss how alternative modalities might bring relief to SPD complaints in addiction, where I have had very favorable outcomes with drumming and drumming therapy. I am hoping a new detailed look at these modalities might reveal some new prospects.
Cognitive dysfunction in addiction (and neurological disorders) raises additional challenges with cognitive accessibility and intolerance to sounds, lights, scents, and motion, and difficulty understanding instructions, web pages, and product labels. A myriad of protections are possible in mitigating adverse exposure, and in rendering instructions, web sites, and facilities more understandable, and thus accessible.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or CAM, is the term designated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It generally refers to the array of modalities used in adjunct to traditional or Western medicine. Other terms such as alternative medicine, mind-body medicine, and healing medicine, are then used more broadly. I have followed and adopted a number of alternative medicine methods since my early years in mindfulness study (1973). I was influenced by early books from Dr. Wayne Dyer and Norman Vincent Peele, articles about nutrition, philosophy, and spiritual healing.
My Conclusions found the following offer the greatest potential as adjunct treatment:
2. Alpha Theta Brain Wave Therapies
3. Spirituality, Faith & Belief
4. Psychotherapy guided sensory & movement therapies
5. Therapies (drumming, basketball) coupled with EEG biofeedback*
6. Neurotransmitter (nootropic) supplements
I did not review and discuss supplements and homeopathy. But will be adding these as separate blogs in the coming months.
Current studies report very favorably on meditation and alpha-theta brainwave biofeedback methods – as it allows participants to lower brainwave states into the alpha phase (8-15 Hz), where improved recall of memories necessary for processing trauma & healing is possible.
Favorable results are reported in movement, sensory, and touch (massage) therapies, particularly when a practitioner interacts with dialog and affirmations. This helps to overcome trauma and negative emotions about an illness. It includes EMDR therapy.
The increased availability of EEG reader technology coupled with mobile phones and tablets can be added to therapies and allow enhanced biofeedback in alpha brainwave states. I am excited to try adding EEG wave assessment to basketball and drumming. I currently only track eye and body movements as an estimate of brainwave states.
Nootropic supplements of neurotransmitters is intriguing today with what we know about brain science and the 8-10 neurochemicals at play in behavior, cognition, mood, and energy levels. What is often difficult to ascertain, is determining which neurotransmitters an individual might be deficient in. Nootropics offer consumers the ability to supplement these for improved brain health and performance. An mHealth app might further this assessment to more strategically target low levels.
I’ve practiced spirituality, faith, and belief methodologies since the 1970s with good outcomes, while also witnessing some in my earlier nuclear medicine work. Faith/belief, like so many alternative modalities, can be difficult to corroborate due to user bias to a particular doctrine, practitioner, or technique. Still, my experience and studies report favorable some very outcomes with faith healing. The specific faith or belief is one of personal preference. Between 1981-1992, I interviewed several thousand patients on illness and belief, and channel that into my mindfulness methods in drumming today.
Photo at Top: The image, while it appears to be from a 1960s record album, is actually created from one of my MRI brain images. I created it as a tribute to EMI Records (record label for The Beatles & Frank Sinatra), who funded the development of the first CT brain scanner in 1971, that garnered the Nobel Prize. It was a testament to innovation!
On November 13, 2015, I published this blog on Nootropics Supplements:
Array of neurological complaints, incl. balance & sensory
Dual diagnosis mental health disorders
Co-occurring general health lung, liver, GI, and other disorders
Dual Diagnosis vs Co-occurring Disorder Influences
More than 1/3 of people with mental illness also have substance abuse problems. More than 1/2 of drug abusers also report experiencing mental illness.
Individuals living with a substance abuse disorder, often have one or more physical health problems such as lung disease, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, plus mental health disorders. Great site
Underlying brain pathology is so common and often difficult to detect, and can include undiagnosed prior brain injury, concussion, genetic & environmental disorders. These can occur both as dual and co-occurring disorders, and contribute to cognitive and sensory dysfunction, and can markedly diminish outcomes and likelihood of relapse. Identification of these is often limited by sensitivity & specificity of the diagnostic procedure, competence of medical staff, and practices in the field, i.e. politics of sensory processing disorder (SPD). Dolle recommends your treatment approach should account for underlying hidden pathology. Stephen M. Dolle, online writings; Addiction and Cognition, Thomas J. Gould Ph.D., Dec 2010
Management of Complaints and Co-occurring Disorders thru mHealth
I designed an earlier mHealth app for hydrocephalus, and write about mHealth apps today for the care of neurological disorders. Some of these Apple & Android apps include PTSD, migraine, sleep, pain management, diaries, diabetes & asthma, etc. Some are discussed on the blogs and web pages below.
Drug addiction manifests clinically as compulsive drug seeking, use, and cravings that can persist and recur after extended periods of abstinence. From a neurological perspective, addiction is a disorder of “altered cognition.”
The brain regions and processes that underlie addiction overlap with those involved in essential cognitive functions: learning, memory, attention, reasoning, and impulse control. Drugs alter normal brain structure and function, and produce cognitive shifts that promote continued drug use thru maladaptive learning.
First Stage: drug use increases and becomes uncontrolled, resulting in drug-induced deregulation of the brain’s reward system (Feltenstein and See, 2008). Normally, dopamine is associated with pleasurable feelings, activities, and sex. Drugs hyperactivate this system and trigger abrupt increases in dopamine and sensations, cueing the user to take more, and promoting a new maladaptive drug association (Feltenstein and See, 2008).
Second Stage: the addictive process poses new clinical symptoms, withdrawal, vulnerability to relapse, with alterations in decision making and cognition. Kalivas and Volkow (2005) reported that drug-induced alterations in signals by the neurotransmitter glutamate from the brain area associated with judgment, the prefrontal cortex, which disrupts cognitive and other processes needed for abstinence.
Drug use causes changes in the brain and cognition, affecting the striatum, prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus (Jones and Bonci, 2005; Kalivas and Volkow, 2005; Kelley, 2004; Le Moal and Koob, 2007). These regions underlie declarative memory, which are key in maintaining a concept of self (Cahill and McGaugh, 1998; Eichenbaum, 2000; Kelley, 2004; Setlow, 1997). Research suggests drug use impact on cognition is far-reaching.
These drugs increase cognition in the first stage: amphetamine, nicotine, and cocaine. (Del et al., 2007; Kenney and Gould, 2008; Mattay, 1996).
The increase can also be a reversal of withdrawal. (Swan and Lessov-Schlaggar, 2007). Cocaine produced similar effects in a study of rats (Devonshire, Mayhew, and Overton, 2007).
Studies show many drugs reshape the communication pathways between neurons (synaptic plasticity), which can contribute to the formation and persistence of maladaptive drug-stimulus associations.
Cocaine and nicotine induce one form of synaptic plasticity, strengthening neural connections via long-term potentiation (LTP; see Learning in the Mind and Brain on page 8 and Table 1) (Argilli et al., 2008; Kenney and Gould, 2008). Amphetamine can enhance LTP (Delanoy, Tucci, and Gold, 1983).
Marijuana activates the endocannabinoid system, resulting in inhibition LTP and long-term depression (LTD), a form of synaptic plasticity in which connections between neurons become less responsive (Carlson, Wang, and Alger, 2002; Nugent and Kauer, 2008; Sullivan, 2000). Ethanol consistently disrupts LTP while enhancing LTD (Yin et al., 2007).
Morphine inhibits LTP of neurons that exhibit inhibitory control of neural activity via the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) (Nugent and Kauer, 2008). Inhibition of GABA activity can lead to an increase in neural activity throughout the brain, stronger associations, and maladaptive drug-context associations.
Drugs produce cognition-related withdrawal and makes abstinence more difficult
cocaine—deficits in cognitive flexibility (Kelley et al., 2005);
amphetamine—deficits in attention and impulse control (Dalley et al., 2005);
opioids—deficits in cognitive flexibility (Lyvers and Yakimoff, 2003);
alcohol—deficits in working memory and attention (Moriyama et al., 2006);
cannabis—deficits in cognitive flexibility and attention (Pope, Gruber, and Yurgelun-Todd, 2001); and
nicotine—deficits in working memory and declarative learning (Kenney and Gould, 2008).
These cognitive deficits with withdrawal are often temporary, but long-term use can lead to lasting cognitive decline, depending on the drug, the environment, and the user’s genetic makeup (see Genes, Drugs, and Cognition on page 11).
Long-term cannabis use causes impaired learning, retention, and retrieval of dictated words, with both long-term and short-term users showing deficits in time estimation (Solowij et al., 2002).
Chronic amphetamine and heroin users show deficits in verbal fluency, pattern recognition, planning, and the ability to shift attention from one frame of reference to another (Ornstein et al., 2000).
Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading cause of mental retardation in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009). Fetal alcohol exposure increases susceptibility to later substance abuse (Yates et al., 1998).
Prenatal drug exposure can have significant effects on cognition and behavior in a developing child.
Nicotine use is strongly associated with ADHD, where cognitive symptoms are similar to those during nicotine withdrawal, and both have alterations in the acetylcholinergic system (Beane and Marrocco, 2004; Kenney and Gould, 2008). Acute nicotine use can also reverse some ADHD attentional deficits (Conners et al., 1996).
Genetic makeup also influences the way a drug alters cognitive processes.
FDA has approved three newer medications for treatment of substance abuse:
a) buprenorphine to treat opioid addictions in 2002
b) acamprosate to treat alcohol addiction in 2004
c) extended-release naltrexone to treat alcohol addictions in 2006 and opioid addiction in 2010.
Sensory Processing Disorder
First defined by occupational therapist Anna Jean Ayres in 1972 as the neurological process that organizes sensation from one’s body and environment, sensory processing disorder makes it difficult to use the body effectively within the environment.
WebMD: Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. It used to be called sensory integration dysfunction.
Article explores the convergence between two fields: clinical field of sensory integration, and a branch of neuroscience that uses the term to describe specific types of sensation disorders.
Newer technology has allowed a new focus on multisensory integration (MSI), which studies the interaction of two or more sensory modalities.
SPD today includes a variety of subtypes depending on the senses involved and functional impairment.
The clinical field is not unified on the subtypes, one group proposes six subtypes (Miller, 2006; Miller et al., 2007), but individuals may also have a combination of subtypes (R. Picard and E. Hedman). Miller proposes three main categories:
A. Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD): difficulty regulating responses to sensory stimulation. Three subtypes are proposed:
1) Sensory over-responsive (responds too much, for too long, or to stimuli of weak intensity)
2) Sensory under-responsive (responds too little, or needs strong stimulation to be aware of stimulus)
3) Sensory seeking/craving (responds with craving for more or stronger stimulation). All three modulation subtypes have in common difficulty grading or regulating responses to sensory stimuli.
B. Sensory Discrimination Disorder (SDD): Sensory discrimination disorder refers to difficulty interpreting the specific characteristics of sensory stimuli (e.g., intensity, duration, spatial, and temporal elements of sensations; Miller, 2006; Miller et al., 2007a).
Sensory discrimination disorder can be present in any of the seven sensory systems (i.e., vestibular, proprioceptive, and the five basic senses).
C. Sensory-based Motor Disorder (SMD): Within sensory-based motor disorder, two subtypes are proposed:
1) Postural disorder, which reflects problems in balance and core stability, and
2) Dyspraxia, which encompasses difficulties in motor planning and sequencing movements.
I became very involved in sensory processing disorder in the years following my treatment of hydrocephalus. My initial complaints were vestibular, and sensitivity to sound and light, especially real chaotic sources. As you will read from my efforts below, I had already been doing research with medical devices and cognition when I became involved in music therapy. I also recall in the first few years following my initial surgeries, doing tai chi, yoga, swimming, chiropractic, and trying a variety of supplements. But, I was very involved in alternative medicine and healing back in the 1980s. And in 1981 while working as a nuclear medicine technologist, I serendipitously developed skills as a medical intuitive. SEE more about my past efforts in alternative medicine in this 2012 blog.
In 2002, I undertook my first study of sensory integration, and two years later, I became involved in drumming, or drum circles. You will read in the following paragraphs of my extensive efforts in sensory processing, and my efforts today in its future of “cognitive accessibility.”
I view sensory processing disorder as a group of neurological (sensory) complaints, or sequela, associated with dysfunction of the brain & body sensory centers as described by Miller et.al. The specific sensory center involved then determines the type of functional limitation the patient will suffer. But, sensory processing also involves balance & movement, verbal & non-verbal communications, social integration, and independence.
In my experience, the three most common SPD sub-types are: sensitivity to sound, light, and motion. And, it is environmental “triggers” of these affected senses that can put you in an SPD crisis. Learn to be aware what your specific triggers are, and the levels needed to affect you. You can keep written notes, or there are PTSD and pain management mobile apps today that can serve as a journal.
Common complaints typically triggered by susceptibility to SPD include:
•irritability/ behavioral challenges
•nausea & vomiting
•loss of balance, disorientation
•inability of function
Disorders commonly associated with SPDs include: post-concussion, post TBI, hydrocephalus, migraine, autism, PTSD, ADHD, post tumor, dementia, and varying degrees of drug & alcohol addiction.
I have had limited exposure to SPDs in drug & alcohol addiction. But I know they are somewhat common thru addiction’s long term connection with PTSD. But there’s not much published about it. In fact, there are few studies on SPD outside of PTSD and autism.
I estimate SPD today affects about 1 in 5 Americans, when you include seniors with varying degrees of dementia. The challenge is in raising the level of research and awareness that can lead to new treatments. Over the years, I developed my own methods in warding off the effects of SPD as best I could. And in hydrocephalus like in many of the disorders, SPD seems to be more problematic when migraine and other neuro complaints are at their minimum.
6. Play or listen to music, learn compensatory methods to your triggers
Learn how to engage/focus your attention on other things during exposure to triggers
My 2002 SPD study led to my becoming involved with music therapy, and later, drumming. After many years of research and efforts in SPD, I created a separate page on the Cognitive Neurosciences with the identified sub-pages.
The above link is to my 2002 study of SPD I undertook with the metronome on this Boss Recording unit. I confirmed that it is the lack of rhythmic pattern that renders sound much more problematic. I also affirmed that melodic patterns of the same sound were more pleasing, as was also reported in the Mozart Effect. SEE also my blog and web page on sensory processing in football where stadium levels can become problematic.
Myself and others have worked to explain sensory processing disorder or SPD. The next step is in protecting cognition in one’s environment, and the “triggers” that make one ill.
It is my contention that specific disability accommodations are protections from triggers and should apply to individuals with SPDs by virtue of a disability, and moderation of known triggers like adverse sounds, lights, scents, etc in public place, affects the individuals use of facilities. Therefore, accommodations via management of adverse triggers should come under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehab Act. Loud TV commercials and sound exposure in one’s home should also be regulated, just as is wheelchair and visual accessibility. Cognitive accommodations should apply to web sites, buildings, and user instructions for a wide range of products. Examples of noise exposure protections are identified below.
Reasonable SPD Accommodations
1. Protection from sudden load audio of TV commercials & programs
2. Construction noise at home, work, and school.
3. Loud music & machinery noise in public places, buildings, health clubs, restaurants, etc.
From 1950-1980, while there were no efforts to make information and technology more user friendly for cognitive accessibility, there were established information practices as a “courtesy” so the user wouldn’t get stressed wondering what was happening to their TV set. This was a common image broadcasters displayed on your TV screen in the event of a problem. Today – you get nothing of the sort. It’s more your problem. Figure it out.
Of course, screen ads like the Yelp screen image below is a common accessibility issue today. Such ads diminish accessibility of a web page, and I hope they cease.
Or if you have a cognitive disability and are out shopping for toothpaste, and come across a busy aisle like that below, with similar packaging – prepare to be in that aisle for a while. Hopefully in the future, stores will better organize these displays.
This cognitive accessibility organization is affiliated with the U.S. government and offers the most up to date information in web design and issues with the internet
There is a tremendous amount of disinformation in SPD, which seems more about politics and insurance reimbursement, than science. I suspect it originates from earlier claims of PTSD from combat, and in children with autism. The way to offset this is with public awareness, activism, and research.
Problematic PR in Addiction, Mental Health, and Neurological Disorders
-the need to turn the image around (esp for cog access), turn a negative into a positive
-compare what Viagra & Sen. Bob Dole did for the embarrassment of ED (erectile dysfunction)
Portugal dramatically improved its ability to encourage drug addicts to avail themselves of treatment. The resources previously devoted to prosecuting and imprisoning drug addicts are now available for treatment programs. Portugal now has the lowest rates of marijuana usage (10%) in people over 15 in the EU. Drug use of all kinds declined.
Neurotransmitters of the Brain
The article below discusses 7 key neurotransmitters or molecules of the brain and their role in cognition, happiness, sleep, etc. The author writes on sports psychology. I’ve pasted in a few key paragraphs from the article.
1. Endocannabinoids: these molecules work on the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors of the cannabinoid system. Anandamide (from Sanskrit “Ananda” meaning Bliss) is the most well-known endocannabinoid. There are at least 85 cannabinoids that have been isolated from the Cannabis plant. It is felt that each of these alters perception and states of consciousness in various ways. It is likely we self-produce many variations of endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids act to control neurotransmitter release in a host of neuronal tissues, including the hippocampus, amygdala, basal ganglia, and cerebellum.
A recent study at the University of Arizona published in April 2012 suggested that endocannabinoids are most likely the source of “runner’s high.” The study showed that humans and dogs significantly increase endocannabinoids following sustained running. It not address the potential role of endorphins in runner’s high. Other research has focused on the blood–brain barrier (BBB), which reported that endorphin molecules are too large to pass freely across the BBB, and are probably not responsible for the blissful state in runner’s high.
This latest study offers a more definitive connection with this neurochemical. You have the option to read or download the full study.
2. Dopamine: it is a reward-driven neurotransmitter for pleasure. Every type of reward that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain.
Dopamine plays a key role in the limbic system, which is involved in emotional function and control. It also plays a part in movement, alertness, and sensations of pleasure.
Many addictive drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system. Cocaine blocks the reuptake of dopamine, leaving these neurotransmitters in the synaptic gap longer. There is evidence people with extraverted, or uninhibited personalities, tend to have higher levels of dopamine than those with introverted personalities. Try and increase your levels of dopamine naturally by being a go-getter idea person.
3. Oxytocin: “Bonding Molecule” (hormone) is directly linked to human bonding, social trust, and loyalty. High levels of oxytocin correlate with romantic attachment in men. When a couple is separated, the lack of physical contact lowers oxytocin and drives the feeling of longing to be with that person again. Oxytocin levels are typically higher in women. In men, vasopressin (a close cousin to oxytocin) may be more the “bonding molecule.” It is said that those who engage in philanthropy and volunteerism have higher levels of oxytocin.
The strong emotional bonding between humans and dogs may have a biological basis in oxytocin too. And is likely why seniors and widowers live longer happier lives when they keep a dog. If you don’t have a partner to offer you affection and increase oxytocin, pets, dogs and cats fill a key void.
Oxytocin is involved in the control of maternal behavior. A large amount of oxytocin is made in the hypothalamus, transported to the posterior lobe of the pituitary and released into the blood.
4. Endorphin: Resemble opiates in chemical structure, and have analgesic properties too. Serum β-Endorphin is an endogenous opioid neuropeptide found in the neurons of both the central and peripheral nervous system. It is one of five endorphins found in humans, the others of which include α-endorphin, γ-endorphin, α-neoendorphin, and β-neoendorphin.
β-Endorphin release in response to exercise has been known and studied since at least the 1980s. Studies have demonstrated that serum concentrations of endogenous opioids, in particular β-endorphin and β-lipotrophin, increase in response to both acute exercise and training. The notion of β-endorphin release during exercise is colloquially known in popular culture as a runner’s high.
Research has shown that acupuncture needles at specific body points can trigger the production of endorphins. In another study, higher levels of endorphins were found in cerebrospinal fluid after acupuncture.
5. GABA: “Anti-Anxiety Molecule” is an inhibitory molecule that slows the firing of neurons and creates a sense of calmness. You increase GABA naturally by practicing yoga, meditation, relaxing activities. Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, are sedatives that increase GABA. But these drugs have side effects and pose risks of dependency.
A study in the “Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine” found a 27% increase in GABA levels among yoga practitioners after a 60-minute yoga session, compared to participants who just read a book for 60 minutes. Meditation also lowers beta brain waves to theta waves, reported to aid calm and clear recall of memories.
6. Serotonin: Plays many different roles in the brain. High serotonin aids self-esteem, feelings of worthiness and a sense of belonging (salience). For this reason, serotonin is mimicked in drug and alcohol addiction, and also in prescription drugs for depression, where they are termed Serotonin-Specific Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Drugs include Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, and Zoloft. The main indication for SSRIs is clinical depression, but SSRIs are frequently prescribed for anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Serotonin also helps regulate sleep.
SSRIs got there name because it was once thought they worked by keeping serotonin in the synaptic gap for longer and make people happier. However, some people never respond to SSRIs. But they do respond to medications that act on GABA, and dopamine or norepinephrine.
7. Adrenaline: real name is epinephrine, and plays a key role in the fight or flight mechanism. The release of epinephrine creates a big surge in energy. It increases heart rate, blood pressure, causes less important blood vessels to constrict ,and increasing blood flow to larger muscles. An “Epi-Pen” is a shot of epinephrine used in the treatment of acute allergic reaction.
An adrenaline rush comes at times of distress or facing fear. It can be triggered on demand with activities that terrify you, or a situation that feels dangerous like a movie. You can also aid an adrenaline rush by taking short rapid breathes and contracting muscles, as weightlifters and athletes often do. The jolt is healthy in small doses.
The chart below list the key neurotransmitters and their role in the human body. I’ve also shared some information from Wikipedia further below.
Glutamate is the most common neurotransmitter. Most neurons secrete glutamate. Glutamate is excitatory, meaning that the release of glutamate by one cell usually causes adjacent cells to fire an action potential. (Note: Glutamate is chemically identical to the MSG commonly used to flavor food.)
Acetylcholine assists motor function and is involved in memory.
Nitric oxide also functions as a neurotransmitter, despite being a gas. It is not grouped with the other neurotransmitters because it is not released in the same way.
Eicosanoids act as neuromodulators via the Arachidonic acid cascade.
The table below discusses the effect of drugs & alcohol on brain neurochemicals:
Brainwave States of the Brain
The human brain elicits brain wave signals across neurons which, along with neurochemicals and oxygen blood flow, helps carry out the various functions of the brain. Historically, these brain waves were studied by EEG medical instruments in patients suffering seizures. But today, it has been shown that certain brain waves are most optimal for specific types of activities. Ordinarily this was not something that we could control. But with more recent brain wave research in areas like yoga, music and drumming therapy, EEG biofeedback, and mindfulness, practice has shown that you can execute more control over your brain waves to be happier, healthier, and more productive. Still, brain wave science serves important roles in health and addiction disorders, where along with abnormalities in neurochemicals and behavior, abnormalities occur in brain waves which can be treated with a variety of biofeedback, meditation, music, and other therapies, which I cover in later sections.
Below, is information on the four (4) primary brain wave states recognized today. The chart (further below) identifies additional brain waves on the upper and lower ends of the range. The chart identifies brain waves associated with the primary neurotransmitters.
Beta Waves: frequency range between 12 and 30 Hz. They awaking awareness, extroversion, concentration, logical thinking, active conversation.
Alpha Waves: frequency range of 8-12 Hz arising from synchronous and coherent (in phase / constructive) electrical activity of thalamic pacemaker cells in humans. They are also called Berger’s wave in memory of the founder of EEG. They place the brain in states of relaxation times, non-arousal, meditation, hypnosis
Theta Waves: 4-8 Hz. Day dreaming, dreaming, creativity, meditation, paranormal phenomena, out of body experiences, ESP, shamanic journeys. A person driving on a freeway, who discovers that they can’t recall the last five miles, is often in a theta state – induced by the process of freeway driving. This can also occur in the shower or tub or even while shaving or brushing your hair. It is a state where tasks become so automatic that you can mentally disengage. The ideation that can take place during the theta state is often free flow and occurs without censorship or guilt. It is typically a very positive mental state.
Delta Waves: high amplitude brain waves between 0-4 hertz. Delta waves associated with deepest stages of sleep (3 and 4 NREM), known as slow-wave sleep (SWS), and aid in characterizing the depth of sleep.
Meditation increases activity in the left prefrontal cortex. The changes are stable over time. If you stop meditating for a while, the effect lingers.
In my work as a drum circle facilitator, I have been actively involved in altering brain waves since 2010. In group drumming, there is a group “brain wave entrainment” or BWE, where the brain waves of members of the group can act alike, in as little as 8-10 minutes of drumming. BWE in drumming was first identified by Dr. Barry Bitman et. al.
My 2015 blog (and web page) on Drumming in the Workplace describes how drumming can alter brain waves and lead to increased productivity, less stress, and healthier employees at work. The article below discusses how brain waves affect mental health.
Neuroscientists have made a correlation between an increase of alpha brain waves—either through electrical stimulation, mindfulness, or meditation—and ability to reduce depression & increase creative thinking. The issue is too much Beta wave activity esp related to stress. SEE brainwave feedback info on altering these waves.
(Wikipedia) Binaural tones are auditory processing artifacts, or apparent sounds, caused by specific physical stimuli. This effect was discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove and earned greater public awareness in the late 20th century based on claims coming from the alternative medicine community that binaural beats could help induce relaxation, meditation, creativity and other desirable mental states. The effect on the brainwaves depends on the difference in frequencies of each tone: for example, if 300 Hz was played in one ear and 310 in the other, then the binaural beat would have a frequency of 10 Hz.
The brain produces a phenomenon resulting in low-frequency pulsations in the amplitude and sound localization of a perceived sound when two tones at slightly different frequencies are presented separately, one to each of a subject’s ears, using stereo headphones. A beating tone will be perceived, as if the two tones mixed naturally, out of the brain. The frequencies of the tones must be below 1,000 hertz for the beating to be noticeable. The difference between the two frequencies must be small (less than or equal to 30 Hz) for the effect to occur; otherwise, the two tones will be heard separately, and no beat will be perceived.
Binaural beats are of interest to neurophysiologists investigating the sense of hearing.
Binaural beats reportedly influence the brain in more subtle ways through the entrainment of brainwaves and provide other health benefits such as pain relief.
Types of CAM/Alternative Medicine Therapies
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (CAM), a Division of NIH, provides the following:
Complementary and Integrative Health or CAM is the term created by NIH to identify alternative medicine therapies used together, or in adjunct to, traditional Western medicine.
The above list the most recognizable modalities. For modalities outside of NIH and Western medicine, more can be found under alternative or mind-body medicine. You can sign up for emails at: NCCIH@public.govdelivery.com
Western medicine has been critical of alternative modalities, offering very limited support to reports of effectiveness. But a few, they do endorse, namely meditation, biofeedback, acupuncture, music therapy, and some movement and proprioceptive therapies, i.e. equine or horse therapy. As much as I like Wikipedia, they exhibit a bias against alternative medicine, though perhaps some modalities deservingly so.
The major rhythmic disruption in PTSD and complex trauma is circadian rhythm; the 24 hr. sleep/wake cycle that follows the dark/light cycle of the sun’s rising and setting.
Types of Alternative Therapies in Addiction Treatment
The list of alternative medicine therapies below is a comprehensive list from AddictionRecoveryGuide.org – a very intriguing site. I cannot speak to the effectiveness of many of these in addiction treatment. Still, they are therapies that are in use in the treatment of addiction, and must have some effectiveness.
Auricular therapy – Auricular therapy is a healing practice dating back to the third century where the practitioner uses needles at acupuncture points on the outer ear that correspond to specific parts of the human body.
Breath Therapy – breathing techniques to help reduce stress, get more energy, feel better, and lose weight.
Creative Arts Therapy
Massage & Bodywork
Spirituality/Faith & Belief
Psychodynamic & Educational groups
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy – (EAP) incorporates horses for mental, behavioral health, and personal therapy. It is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional to address treatment goals.
Step curriculum is designed to build competencies in four key areas recognized as vital to professional success.
Leadership & Management: Identify, communicate, and influence future outcomes, risks, and impacts. Recognize opportunities for yourself and for others. Implement successful organizational processes in areas such as planning, budgeting, and performance management.
Communication & Relationship Building: Assess situations, identify meaningful solutions, and communicate these solutions to others. Create collaborative environments and offer constructive feedback to help a team achieve its goals.
Personal & Professional Management: Apply self-management techniques to achieve career and personal goals using the process of life-long learning, self-development and managing behavior.
Entrepreneurialism: Identify professional surroundings as a potential marketplace. Acquire the tools to take advantage of one-of-a-kind opportunities within that marketplace, whether as an employee or an individual starting a business.
RESULTS: Available evidence suggests that music-based interventions may have a positive impact on pain, anxiety, mood disturbance, and quality of life in cancer patients. Advances in neurobiology may provide insight into the potential mechanisms by which music impacts these outcomes.
The somatosensory systems inform us about objects in our external environment through touch (i.e., physical contact with skin) and about the position and movement of our body parts (proprioception) through the stimulation of muscle and joints. The somatosensory systems also monitor the temperature of the body, external objects and environment, and provide information about painful, itchy and tickling stimuli.
Acupuncture – Auricular, or ear, s based on points in the ear are associated with specific parts of the body. Thus acupuncture needles placed in the ear can achieve a therapeutic effect anywhere in the body. Acupuncture is often used to reduce symptoms related to withdrawal and detoxification and may also have a role in relapse prevention by reducing anxiety, craving, irritability, the inability to focus, and muscle aches.
RESULTS: One patient did not complete treatment due to a major operation, the remaining 9 (90%) completed treatment. All patients (100%) completely stopped use of any street drugs and results remained stable for 6 months after end of treatment. Two years after end of intervention, 7 out of the 9 (78%) remained clean of use of heroin, but 2 (22%) returned to partial use; 6 (67%) of the patients returned to partial use of benzodiazepines, none (0%) showed permanent use of marijuana or cocaine.
Neurofeedback mimics Zen monks (meditation increased alpha, reduced to theta).
Dr. Thomas Budzynski found theta states made subjects ‘hyper-suggestable’ (as if in a hypnotic trance) to suggestions for positive changes to behaviour and attitudes.
Brain Wave Biofeedback* (neurofeedback) – Patients learn to alter their brain wave patterns. Training involves restoring a normal pattern of alpha and theta waves disturbed by long term substance abuse. Brainwave biofeedback has shown dramatic success in several studies to prevent relapses from drug and alcohol addiction.
Alpha-theta Biofeedback: “Peniston Protocol” – great results, uses EEG
The bulk of literature to date regarding EEG biofeedback of addictive disorders is focused on alpha-theta biofeedback. The technique involves the simultaneous measurement of occipital alpha (8–13 Hz) and theta (4–8 Hz) and feedback by separate auditory tones for each frequency representing amplitudes greater than pre set thresholds. The subject is encouraged to relax and to increase the amount of time the signal is heard, that is to say, to increase the amount of time that the amplitude of each defined bandwidth exceeds the threshold. A variety of equipment and software has been used to acquire, process, and filter these signals, and there are differences in technique inherent with equipment and software.
The protocol described by Peniston at the Fort Lyons VA is similar to Twemlow and Elmer Green at the Menninger Clinic, with two additions, i.e., (1) temperature training and (2) script. Peniston introduced temperature biofeedback training as a preconditioning relaxation exercise, along with an induction script to be read at the start of each session. This protocol (described as follows) has become known as the “Peniston Protocol” and has become the focus of research in subsequent studies. Subjects are first taught deep relaxation by skin temperature biofeedback for a minimum of five sessions that additionally incorporates autogenic phrases. Peniston also used the criteria of obtaining a temperature of 94° before moving on to EEG biofeedback. Participants then are instructed in EEG biofeedback and in an eyes closed and relaxed condition, receive auditory signals from an EEG apparatus using an international site O1 single electrode. A standard induction script employing suggestions to relax and “sink down” into reverie is read. When alpha (8–12 Hz) brainwaves exceed a preset threshold, a pleasant tone is heard, and by learning to voluntarily produce this tone, the subject becomes progressively relaxed. When theta brainwaves (4–8 Hz) are produced at a sufficiently high amplitude, a second tone is heard, and the subject becomes more relaxed and according to Peniston, enters a hypnagogic state of free reverie and high suggestibility.
Applied kinesiology use the principle of muscle strength to evaluate subconscious thoughts, body energy, and meridians for signs of manifesting physical and mental health disorders. Seems to also access meridian & hypnosis mechanisms.
*critical of AK per American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Definition: A manual muscle test in AK is conducted by having the patient resist using the target muscle or muscle group while the practitioner applies a force. A smooth response is sometimes referred to as a “strong muscle” and a response that was not appropriate is sometimes called a “weak response”. This is not a raw test of strength, but rather a subjective evaluation of tension in the muscle and smoothness of response, taken to be indicative of a difference in spindle cell response during contraction. These differences in muscle response are claimed to be indicative of various stresses and imbalances in the body.
The mind can only really think of one thing at a time. When you concentrate your attention on one thing, you inevitably engage the parallel act of ignoring other things.
The February 2015 study “Attention Drives Synchronization of Alpha and Beta Rhythms between Right Inferior Frontal and Primary Sensory Neocortex,” was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The researchers at Brown identified how the brain achieves optimal inattention by changing the synchronization of brainwaves between different brain regions. The researchers hope that by harnessing the power to ignore, that people with chronic pain will have new cognitive tools for reducing pain.
People can learn how to manipulate their alpha rhythms in the somatosensory cortex as they switch their attentional focus though mindfulness training. The results of their latest research expand our understanding of how mindfulness might possibly operate using the mechanism of redirecting attention via control of alpha rhythms in the brain, which can help people ignore depressive thoughts.
Two opposite ways to forget bad memories. During memory suppression, a brain structure called dorsolateral prefrontal cortex inhibited activity in the hippocampus, a region critical for recalling past events. Understanding these mechanisms may help understand disorders of memories, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
If suppression doesn’t work, you might want to put on your “rose-tinted glasses” and try substitution by using your imagination to pretend you’re in a different place or experiencing something else.
The researchers at Cambridge found that memory substitution was supported by caudal prefrontal cortex and midventrolateral prefrontal cortex. These are two regions typically involved in bringing specific memories into awareness in the presence of distracting memories.
Meditation significantly improved functional connectivity in the brain’s network active during introspective thought such as retrieving memories. They also observed trends of less atrophy in the hippocampus.
Fadel Zeiden is exploring the specific brain mechanisms that influence meditation’s ability to reduce perceptions of pain and the experience of anxiety.
Best CAM for Pain Management
Yoga, Acupuncture, EEG biofeedback, Massage Therapy, Tai Chi, Deep Tissue Massage
A new analysis of data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) has found that most American adults have experienced some level of pain, from brief to more lasting (chronic) pain, and from relatively minor to more severe pain. The analysis helps to unravel the complexities of a Nation in pain. It found that an estimated 25.3 million adults (11.2 percent) experience chronic pain—that is, they had pain every day for the preceding 3 months. Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) experience severe levels of pain. Those with severe pain are also likely to have worse health status.
23.4 million adults (10.3 percent) experience a lot of pain.
126 million adults (55.7 percent) reported some type of pain in the 3 months prior to the survey.
Pain is one of the leading reasons Americans turn to complementary health approaches such as yoga, massage, and meditation—which may help manage pain and other symptoms that are not consistently addressed by prescription drugs and other conventional treatments.
Reduced gray matter volume can lead to memory impairment, emotional problems, and decreased cognitive functioning. Hyper-connectivity of white matter tracts between brain areas associated with negative emotions and pain perception can hardwire these corresponding states of mind.
The researchers used diffusion tensor brain imaging to analyze gray matter volume and the integrity of white matter tracts. Bushnell hypothesizes that increased size and connectivity of the insular cortex is probably the most important brain factor regarding changes in an individual’s pain tolerance and thresholds.
Yoga appears to bulk up gray matter through neurogenesis and strengthen white matter connectivity through neuroplasticity. After assessing the impact of brain anatomy on pain reduction, Bushnell believes that gray matter changes in the insula or internal structures of the cerebral cortex are the most significant players involved in chronic pain.
Rest & recreation – many of the massage therapies plus eg. reading, fishing
Social Integration – BWE, help love & trust
Movement Therapy, proprioception, athletics, Tai chi, basketball (adding rewards, fun sounds to baskets)
Bright light therapy is the treatment method most often recommended for patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that occurs as a result of reduced exposure to sunlight in the fall, winter and spring.
My name is Stephen Dolle and I am an experiential neuroscientist and basketball fanatic. I have been exploring “where” the basketball shot comes from since about 2008. Is it from the body? Or from the mind? Or from some place outside of yourself and this world?
The answers I present here are a mix of sports science, brain science, speculation, mindfulness, mythology, and perhaps even shamanism. Sports science and brain science in my opinion does not fully explain what we see in sports like basketball. It seems there may be outside influencessuch as from God, from myths of the basketball court, or the spirit of the Shamans. My efforts in healing, philosophy, athletics, coaching, drumming, and now brain science today allowed me to author this in depth scientific analysis of basketball.
For fun, I’ve included some mythology on the geometric shapes of the modern day basketball court, and speculation that the court may have been designed by “celestial powers.” Well, it’s fun to consider!
Basketball is more unique in that it encompasses sophisticated kinesthetics and team brain science, and allows the whole total effort to be greater than the sum of the individual parts by players. This creates new possibilities in team-building, leadership, personal growth, and in the brain sciences through such practices as trance heightened states, mindfulness, and shamanism. In analyzing all of this, I think I’ve shown “where” the shot comes from, an area of the brain termed the “Limbic System.” However, reproducing and packaging this is another story.
In a few words, the basketball shot comes from your body’s movement and rhythmic progression (via memory) of your unique movements in completing a basketball shot, and from belief in the shot and yourself with your higher power, or God. The above image of the “Limbic System” identifies the key structures of our brain involved in sensory processing and memory, and then coordinating this information with physical movement from the “brain stem” to our “Frontal Lobe,” most responsible for everyday activities and skilled functions. In describe this in more detail later in this blog.
Since basketball is also a team sport, it requires that players connect at the highest levels for group lay, by what is termed brain-wave entrainment or BWE. BWE then allows the telepathic connection between players to anticipate plays and passes from team-mates, as well as your team emotional spirit during play. This group effect influences each player’s belief in themselves and resulting success during play. The image below demonstrates the four (4) primary brain wave patterns of our brain, where beta waves are predominant during play, and during much of the day.
It has primarily been my work with drumming or “drum circles,” that led me to my work with the science of rhythm & movement, and ultimately to basketball, the No. 1 rhythm & movement sport. As drum circles are a form of group hypnosis, in that it can change a person and group’s mindset, it therefore effects connectedness, and one’s belief about play during basketball. Basketball also parallels drumming in thru very similar timing, coordination, anticipation, and syncopation. Combining drum circle concepts with basketball play I feel makes for a great combination for winning!
Basketball today is played all over the world, and for a variety of purposes. I examine the sports & brain science mechanisms that lead to successful play, epic performances of top athletes, and offer methods that can be adopted by both players and teams. I also discuss basketball play for health & fitness, and combining drumming with basketball to improve ball handling, shooting, timing of movement, and on-court communications. I recommend basketball drills (and drumming) as a therapy for the short and long term management of concussion, brain injury, and neurological disorders.
Health & Science Topics covered in this Blog
1. Sports Science of Basketball
2. Brain Science of Basketball
3. Mindfulness of Basketball
4. Drumming with Basketball
5. Basketball for Health & Fitness
6. Mythology in Basketball
7. My Journey into Drumming & Basketball after Brain Injury
8. Use of Drumming & Basketball in the Treatment of Concussion
ABOUT ME: I became a neuroscientist following a brain injury in 1992. That led to my research with cognition, music therapy, balance & movement, and drumming or drum circles. By 2008, I had begun to apply my methods to basketball, initially with just balance & movement. But by 2010, this evolved into mindfulness and my search for “where” the shot comes from. My neuroscience study now spans learning, cognition, sensory processing disorders, movement & balance, mindfulness, brain wave entrainment (BWE), and shamanism. I’ve also been involved with medical devices, mHealth technology, and assistive technology.
Background of Basketball
Basketball was first introduced in 1891 by James Naismith, a physical education instructor for the YMCA. But the game and basketball court have evolved considerably since its early inception. The ball today measures 9.55 inches in diameter (WNBA 9.23 inches), while the basket measures 18 inches in diameter. At times, the basket appears quite large enough to accommodate the ball. While at other times, the hoop just seems far too small. There are quite a few measurements that govern the different sections of the court. There likely isn’t another sport and playing court with as many sections with separate rules governing each.
There is considerable sports science in basketball as the sport has been around for over 100 years. Below, is a list of the brain & sports science skills involved in basketball.
Sports Science & Brain Science of Basketball includes:
1) proprioception of movement, dribbling, passing, shooting, rhythmic progressions 2) shooting the ball, ball angles, trajectory 3) tactile senses handling the ball, and movement of the body 4) spatial awareness of oneself, and others on the court 5) physical strength, conditioning, and endurance of play (kinesiology) 6) on-court (mostly non-verbal) communications 7) team rhythm and brain wave entrainment (BWE) 8) defending of shots, strategy, interpreting intent of opponents 9) mentally execution of plays, improvising adjustments 10) mental mistakes, mus0cues, personal fouls 11) team and player analytics 12) design of the basketball court
Sports Science of the Basketball Court
Basketball has undergone numerous changes since 1891, and today holds few similarities to the original game. The Swish and BRAD slide below identifies the optimal sports science shooting arcs, while the adjacent slide reveals analytics of shooting by court section for the Miami Heat’s 2012 playoff run.
Basketball’s 2014-15 season sensation and league MVP, Stephen Curry, is getting all kinds of sports science coverage now for his 3 point shooting style. Not only does he utilize a high shooting arc, but he has a very quick release. He has already broken 3-point shooting records this post-season, with at least 4 games still to play. He is being described as the best pure shooter the game has ever seen, and I am particularly interested in his mindfulness and related brain science disciplines. These methods will help in further development of skills and health applications for basketball, and in my work with drumming for basketball. The sport science slides below depict Stephen Curry’s shooting technique.
This last sports science slide is on the bank shot and best shooting angles, as if you didn’t already know. Hit the correct spot on the back board, and the ball gets deflected into the basket.
In 2013, Muthu Alagappan, a medical school student at Stanford, got the sports world’s attention when he came up with analytics to help in preparing a roster that optimizes offense and defense on the court. Some of his concepts I think appeared in the movie, Money Ball. Alagappan thinks we need new definitions he calls, “Revealing Basketball’s 10 Hidden Positions.”
Muthu Alagappan’s 10 Basketball Positions
1.Jump Shooting Ball-handler (Stephen Curry) Handles the ball while being a focal point of the offense through deadly jump shooting. 2.Two-way All-star (Kobe Bryant) Elite offensive and defensive player, who can dominate the game on both ends of the court. 3.Inside Outside Scorer (Chandler Parsons) Avoids the mid-range but scores often in the paint and from the three-point line. 4.Mid-range Big-man (Al Jefferson) Skilled rebounder and paint defender who also has midrange jump shooting ability. 5.Defensive Ball-handler (Kyle Lowry) Ballhandler that applies defensive pressure and looks to get his teammates involved on offense. 6.3-Point Ball-handler (Klay Thompson) Ballhandler who features an offensive arsenal highlighted by 3-point shooting. 7.3-Point Specialist (Shane Battier) Role player who’s offensive role is almost solely to shoot 3-pointers. 8.Low-usage Ball-handler (Courtney Lee) Ball-handler who can fit in to various roles on a team but lacks a clear identity. 9.Paint Protector (Larry Sanders) Menacing interior defender that protects the rim and deters opponents from driving to the basket. 10.Scoring Rebounders (Tim Duncan) Big man who serves as a team’s primary scorer and also rebounds with consistency.
Muthu Alagappan has become a consultant to a couple of NBA teams with his methods, which I find well founded in science and mathematics. His conclusions are supported by game analytics, as are the declining analytics of players attempting successful 2nd and 3rd consecutive 3-point shots.
The Physical Science of Dribbling, Moving, and Shooting the Basketball
The handling, dribbling, passing, and shooting of the basketball integrates tactile skill of the hands and fingers with kinesiology of skills training, with proprioception of physical memory and recall of the shot (and related court movements).
Tactile skillis the sensation of touching the ball with your hands and fingers, and integrating this with the spatial awareness of your feet and body. This sensation also helps with balance and coordination, as we use our fingers and hands in body movements, i.e. hand/finger movements sprinters use as they run, wrestlers during a takedowns. Tactile sensation during movement is also important as we age, and after a neurological events (as happened to me) affecting one’s balance or movement.
I intuitively developed new methods in tactile movementfollowing my 1992 brain injury. In 2004, when I became involved in hand drumming, these tactile methods evolved to include “rhythmic” movement. My hand and finger movements significantly help my short term memory, balance, and initiation of movement. I feel these methods can not only be applied to basketball, but also to aid balance, cognition, and movement in everyday life.
Kinesiology is more a macro science of movement and spans physiological, psychological, and mechanical mechanisms. It encompasses physical and psychological training, on court body mechanics for optimal movement, and techniques to help avoid injury and keep players conditioned.
Proprioception is more the micro science of movement, defined as the sense of relative position of different parts of your body during movement, and spans memory/recall of specific body movements such as dribbling, sprinting, passing, and shooting. It is also referred to as “muscle memory,” as it defines the network of sensors in our joints, tendons, muscles, and ligaments which remember specific task movements. It allows a player to dribble, pass, and shoot with considerable accuracy. Proprioceptive movement also involves key portions of the brain as the slides indicate.
Keen tactile skill, kinesiology, and proprioception no doubt play and integral part in a player’s skillset and success on the basketball court. I am particularly intrigued by the skillsets and shooting capabilities of finesse players like Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, pictured below. Each has majestic type shooting mechanics and have scored over 50 points in a game.
Sports Science vs Mythology: Where does the Shot come from?
There are no doubt scientific factors responsible for players having super-skills on the basketball court. I hope that Stephen Curry & LeBron James can help us answer some of these questions in this 2015 NBA Finals. But, what I am referring to, is beyond sports science. Beyond what we can fully prove. It is the unseen influences in the human condition that is so prevalent sports, and especially so in basketball. It can be viewed in terms of psychology, mindfulness, faith & belief, shamanism, trance states, or perhaps the celestial design of the modern basketball court. Let’s start with the design of the court.
The arc of the 3-point line, where much of the play takes place, appears to resemble the curvature of the earth. The basket is situated at the base of the arc, much like either the sun or the core of the earth. As players move about on the court, they seek to know their orientation to the basket, much as we seek to orient ourselves to the sun and core of the earth. The players’ knowing of their orientation allows them to make accurate shots in the basket. The current field goal shooting space inside the arc was traditionally where the game was played. But in more recent years, it has been expanded beyond the arc in 3-point shooting.
This space beyond the arc is where players yearning to become celestial godsdare to shoot. The space inside the paint is where mythical players look to defy earthly gravity. This court design seems to invite individuals with unique skillsets to try and master these spaces. Many try. But only a select few succeed. The game and court seem perfect! If you look at the geometric shapeson the court, you can see how they mirror the shapes of our planet’s magnetic and gravitational fields. And this gives rise to mythology in basketballand speculation that there is a link between the court and the super-skillsof players. Note the shapes of the images in the earth’s magnetic and gravitational fields.
As a scientist, drummer, and multi-sport athlete, I can attest to something occurring in the brain during your mental preparation, and into your rhythmic progression of the athletic maneuver. I think it closely resembles mindfulness visualization. Coach Phil Jackson wrote extensively on mindfulness. As a scientist, I can say that athlete super-skills would likely occur either as faith and belief based hypnosis, trance states, or shamanism. Super-skills have been scientifically confirmed thru study of “trance heightened states” on fMRI brain scans of individuals. I suspect this would also occur in athletes.
Proprioception and Rhythmic Progression of the Basketball Shot
We’ve discussed sports science, shooting angles & trajectories, tactile skill, kinesiology, and mythology. But where really does the shot come from?
During shooting, you have your own unique rhythmic progressionthat allows you to store & recall your shot – albeit through proprioception. During a game, there are also opponents pushing and bumping into you, and it disrupts timing and a good “look” of the shot. But it is the exceptional shooter who can alter the mechanics of the progression and shot, and fit it into the tighter spaces created by the defense.
It is your body’s proprioception that allows you to execute these movements with very limited conscious thought, part of your “somatic” nervous system, where movements of your arms, legs, and body can be pre-programmed to rhythmic cues. Rhythmic movementalso aids our memory in doing every day tasks like brushing your teeth, washing dishes, and driving your car, which are integrated into your broader tactile awareness and complex movements.
Rhythmic progressions are become a pivotal part of all sports play, plus are found in repetitive activities like drumming, hammering, and most skill trades. I found hand drumming to be uniquely helpful with tactile perception of the hands and fingers, and it can be applied to basketball and activities in everyday life. In addition, rhythmic sports like basketball invoke team brain wave entrainment, or BWE, the same principles found in drumming, or drum circles.
BWE is a mirroring of “brain waves” between members of a group in a heightened and connected similar activity. Brain waves normally occur in five (5) frequency ranges: delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma, as measured by EEG instruments and brain wave sensors available for mobile devices. BWE determines in part how we learn in a classroom, and how we communicate and influence one another in life. BWE is also involved in why women who live or work together tend to synchronize their menstrual periods to the same times. For more on BWE, see my blog on use of “drum circles” in the workplace.
BWE methods help with “brain wave” control in movement, timing, attentiveness, communication skill, and stress reduction. The methods actually date back thousands of years. But only more recently, have they been understood. Below, Charles & Kenny do a little drumming during their TNT coverage of basketball.
The amazing thing about basketball, is that its principles and methods can be applied to so many other areas of life such as the workplace, family, friends & relationships, health, and personal discipline as a whole. As such, one of the most important aspects today of the game, is understanding “where” the shot comes from, or the “Mindfulness of Basketball.”
The Mindfulness of Basketball
Much of what we’re learning today about the psychology of sports, health, personal relationships, and how well we achieve success in our endeavors has to do with our brain’s “Limbic System.” The Limbic system is a group of structures above the brain stem that processes our sensory information and memory, and also serves as a conduit to our conscious thoughts which are executed by our “frontal lobe.” This lobe of the brain is responsible for most of our day to day skills and decisions, widely referred to as our “executive functions.”
In neurological disorders, learning disorders, and brain injury, the frontal lobe and Limbic region can become compromised, resulting in personality changes, behavioral challenges, cognitive disabilities, and even addition disorders. But in sports and work when these centers are functioning well, you can have skills and abilities like a “high performance sports car!” There are a number of methods and disciplines today that help to optimize these two brain centers, improve mental focus, and reduce stress. The two most popular terms for these disciplines today is meditation and mindfulness. Meditation more defines the type of practice or discipline being used, whereas mindfulness defines the mental or conscious state that you’re trying to achieve. Mindfulness is a lot like “Nirvana,” that place in your mind where you like to go to work everything out. It reminds me of the scence in the Movie, “Happy Gilmore,” where Adam Sandler visualizes all of the good things he would like to have in his life!
In his book about mindfulness in basketball under the title, “Sacred Hoops,” Coach Phil Jackson says that mindfulness methods were largely responsible for his success as a coach. He also was/likely still is a devout practitioner of meditation.
During the 1970s and 1980s, I was changed by a number of books on the mind and philosophy. Perhaps my favorite book of the 1970s was “Zen and the Art of Motocycle Maintenance,” while in the 1980s my most influential book was “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.” At age 30 and being 6’2”, I had this fascination with gymnastics, and began to delve into visualization and mindfulness. Today I know that these principles are at the core of success in sports and basketball.
Basketball also has many similarities to gymnastics in that the trick or shot is actually done in your head before you execute the shot. It requires visualization, mental focus, confidence, and a keen awareness of your “rhythmic patterns” of movement. And the more you believe in your shot as your execute it, the higher your accuracy.
This IS where the basketball shot comes from…. visualizing, physically connecting, and BELIEVING! It’s a lot like the Disney movie, “Peter Pan.” And in the end, how did Peter fly? Through Happy Thoughts! But, he first had to BELIEVE. I think this is also what drives fans to attend basketball games…. to watch players possibly achieve these out of world performances!
In order to BELIEVE, you must first KNOW. And KNOWING — comes from preparation, and DOING! So you practice the fundamentals of your craft, to put yourself in a position to fly. In your preparation and doing, somewhere along the way you may come to KNOW and to SEE what you need in order to BELIEVE. In the photo below, I caught the sun’s morning rays coming thru at a precise place over my friend Al during his morning shooting drills, that suggested that the role of the spirit in basketball may be more than meets the eye.
I suspect this is how Stephen Curryand other top shooters achieve their skilled brain states. In addition, it requires a vision and BELIEVING, as seen in players like LeBron James in leading other players to greatness. It is a philosophy, a practice, and way of life.
In my personal experiences in shooting on the court, I’ve found a “communion” of sorts in following my higher power’s “direction” in selecting the spots & mechanics for each shot. Even for a very difficult shot. When you follow that “direction,” something magical happens. It’s as though there are “forces” that govern which shots allow the ball to pass thru the basket. You must be in communion. Might it be tied to astrology? I can’t say.
Exceptional players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Stephen Curry have evolved into mythical figures. Bryant as the Black Mamba. James as the Chosen One. Curry as the Golden Boy. I can only speculate on their brain, spiritual, and physical mechanisms on the court.
Another mindfulness practice that intrigues me is how some athletes can compartmentalize the pain of injury and not let it become a distraction during play. This is counter to what we know about pain and its effect on mental focus & performance. I have personally experienced instances of “spontaneous healing,” where all signs and complaints with an injury or illness have immediately disappeared. So it is more common than you might think. The photo below is from one of my brain shunt surgeries, where I used mindfulness to help manage pain.
In 1988, Isiah Thomas had his best quarter of basketball ever when he shot 14/15 (or something near that) in a game against the Lakers, with a sprained and swollen ankle that hobbled him on the court. It requires mental focus to make difficult shots. Pain would normally be a significant distraction in shooting accuracy. Just look around the NBA and other sports on why players are out. But Thomas played his best basketball ever on one foot. How was he able to do this? Mindfulness/hypnosis? Spirituality? Shamanism? Trance heightened states?
We choose our own discipline(s) to attain excellence in basketball and in life. And some of us are blessed with “genetic predispositions” that aid in our success. But most have to put in the work to learn these. I regularly see genetic predispositions in my work with drum circles. No doubt this can be seen in other practices too. Below, I am interviewed on how drumming can be used to improve your life.
How I Became Involved in the Brain Science of Basketball
My personal journey following a 1992 brain injury led me to numerous areas of the neurosciences. Some of my guidance wasn’t just by accident. It came to me “intuitively.” I also have a not so common brain skill where I often instinctively know what to do in a given situation, which doctors at UCLA Medical Center found in 1993 following several days of neuropsych testing. In just 6 months, I had created my own “compensatory strategies” to overcome many of my challenges post injury and surgery. They told me they normally put patients thru rehab to learn these things. I found out I was different!
In the years that I followed, I became involved in research with cognition and memory, that I used in the 1997 design of my DiaCeph Test app for hydrocephalus, and then in balance, movement, and sensory challenges. By 2005, I discovered that I had acquired new intuitive or shaman-like skills, and had unknowingly added “rhythmic cues” to my everyday movement, walking, and tasking.
I created finger movements to tap on myself and cue myself as I moved about and initiated everyday tasks. I unknowingly began doing this while driving just a few years after my brain injury in the mid-1990s, and found it helped me better concentrate while driving, especially in busy intersections. Eventually, cuing with my hands and fingers became an everyday part of tasks and movements, much of it I wasn’t even aware of it. I’d tap on myself as I got dressed, at the counter in the kitchen, as I brushed my teeth, and started up my car to drive off. After 20-25 yrs now, I don’t even think about it any more. But I consciously do it today while driving, as it helps me better focus during busy traffic.
Athletes use a lot of personal hand and timing cues too during play. The most notable of these was baseball’s Ricky Henderson, who had unique hand/finger cues he used in base stealing. In the batters box, baseball players can be seen executing unique cues with their hands and feet. In basketball, player cues are most evident during free throws, where each player has their own unique system. Some however, have really struggled at the free throw line, because they had not developed a unique set of cues & rhythms that they believed in! Most of these are big men who don’t move that rhythmically. The shot is all about the rhythm!
At some point, I’ll publish a blog or include in my book, my methods for hand/finger cues when driving an automobile. No doubt this could help a lot of drivers, especially seniors. It’s really just developing methods which allow your body to interact better with your mind. At its core, a string of cued movements or “rhythmic progressions,” helps you maintain your mental focus and to execute the movements & tasks which you have studied and practiced.
On the basketball court, I use these cues to direct my step, dribble, turn, and shoot to deliberate patterns. These “cues” allow me to move about and shoot more effortlessly. Off the court, I have some balance problems and am often in a lot of pain, and am dependent on my hand and finger cues. When I play hand percussion in drum circles, I often play Afro-Cuban rhythms I’ve never studied. I play what comes to me, a lot like the cues.
In everyday life, I utilize hand-finger movements to boost mental focus & cognition. It may seem a bit like gang signs found in hip hop music. But, I don’t follow hip hop. I have no idea where they came from, other than my brain’s compensatory adaptation. And even more unusual, the other day I found myself wanting to howl along with several dogs who were howling to nearby sirens at the super market. No doubt, this arose out of an increased sensitivity to things around me and wanting to be in BWE with the dogs.
The brain science of many of my compensatory methods can be found in scientific papers. Since 2008, I’ve also been using fasting and following calorie restriction methods on eating – to boost health, energy, and mental focus. Today, I also write about Nootropics vitamins for the brain.
My experiences may seem a bit like Ron Howard’s 1980s anti-aging movie, “Cocoon.” But this is real. Mindfulness, shamanism, and trance heightened states enable the brain to function at significantly higher levels. And it’s confirmed on fMRI brain imaging. It’s allowed me to overcome extraordinary odds, undertake some very unique research, put on innovative drumming workshops, and provide consults in several areas of the neurosciences. This may not sound like everyday occurrences to most. But look at the animal spirit images in the flames of the bonfire below. That’s not everyday either. I’ve had skills as a medical intuitive dating back to 1981. So I’m quite used to it by now!
I shoot baskets today for the mindfulness buzz, and it also helps my balance, coordination, cognition, and mental outlook.
Basketball’s health & fitness benefits are also well known for children, teens, adults, and seniors. In addition, it can provide therapeutic benefits to persons with brain, spinal cord, and movement disorders.
From my experiences on the court and in drumming, I created a series of basketball drills, as well as a program for drumming with basketball. There is great synergy between basketball and drumming, as each involves rhythm, movement, syncopation, and brain wave entrainment (BWE). Drumming also improves tactile perception, which can benefit basketball.
My Personal Basketball for Health & Fitness Methods
I’ve got more than seven (7) years of experience in basketball for health and fitness. Below, I share my shooting preparation, and drills and shooting on the court.
In order to be physically readyto shoot, I do a series of floor and rubber band stretches and mindfulness visualizations for 10-25 minutes. This helps to clear your head and prepare you physically for the demands you’ll be faced with in dribbling, moving, and shooting. It also helps get you “tuned into” your high power for direction on the court.
On the court, I begin with left and right hand, between the legs, behind the back, and closed space dribbling. I make sure my footwork matches anything I do with the ball.
Next, I do dribbling with shots from left to right under the basket. This helps address any stiffness or dizziness. And some days I require more turning and dribbling drills warm-up. I continue shooting under the basket, as I shift between right & left handed shooting. I am left handed. But, I will do as many or more shots under the basket with my right hand.
Next, are my bank shots, where I gradually move to further distances around the court. By this time, I am usually beginning to “feel” the shot and come off the ground a little as I shoot. I allow my body’s momentum to lift me off the ground. I rarely do jump shots as it reduces my shot accuracy.
Once I am fully warmed up, I move to field goals, where I enjoy moving about the court, shooting what my shots and rebounds give me. I listen to my body and to the basketball gods in deciding what my next shot & drills will be.
By now, I’m 20-25 minutes into my workout, and begin free throws, which as anyone knows, can become contentious and mentally challenging. I would like to do some training in psychology of free throws as I can struggle at the line. I know it is usually something on my mind that is interfering. So this often becomes free throw therapy! I mean, we all need some outside help!
Depending on how this goes will determine whether I do layups, or 3-point shots next. Both of these have become a little more difficult over the last year or two (I am now age 60). Still, I follow what my body gives me. Often times with 3-point shots, I’ll do shots inside the arc to warm up my shoulders for the further distances. Since free throws and 3-point shots can be contentious, I sometimes use really different techniques (and two handed) and shots to just stimulate my body and balance. When I can, I’ll let out a shout or two in frustration (which I think is very helpful). But I’m courteous to nearby neighbors.
On layups, I do standard, reverse, and under handed styles. I do as much as my body and mindfulness allows. I used to be able to sprint/dribble back to my house. But not in the past couple of years.
In applying these methods of mindfulness, you become your own psychotherapist on the court. You learn to listen to your body, get out of your head, and be more balanced in your approach to life. And once you’ve cleared your head, you’re rewarded by seeing & feeling the ball go thru the basket (not to mention you don’t have to chase the ball). Your GOAL is being more connected.
I find opposite hand shooting also helps to balance both the left & right hemispheres of the brain, and a higher sense of calm. I always leave with a better buzz when I’ve done opposite hand shooting and lots of free throws. It improves your poise and balance. These drills can also engage trance heightened state brain activity, though largely dependent on your commitment and discipline.
I have added hand drumming to basketball before and after shooting. I also added basketball to some of my drum workshops with excellent feedback. I would like to share my methods with college and professional basketball programs.
Drumming with Basketball
Drum rhythms define a very precise pattern and are remarkably similar to an athlete’s movement on the basketball court. If you play or shoot baskets for fun or fitness, you will experience rhythmic progressions in your shooting, passing, and dribbling. This can put you into an altered state of consciousness, or Nirvana of sorts. You might even enter a trance state. The main difference is with drumming, that you can enter into these mind states without being an expert drummer or musician. Trance states and rhythmic patterns are indigenous to us all. You need only find the right discipline. The children below put on a drum circle during half-time at a Bay area basketball game.
In basketball, passing, shooting, and on-court communications largely occur due to syncopation and brain wave entrainment. To aid syncopation, drums have been used in military training and battlefield maneuvers for hundreds of years. Drumming has a long history with African shamans. In some parts of Africa, drums are brought and played next to the basketball court. For these reasons, drumming is a great training tool in basketball.
Drumming and shamanism are very rooted in African culture, where mindfulness and trance heightened states are rooted more in Western civilization. They may be one and the same brain mechanism – arising from different cultures. These disciplines no doubt hold tremendous insight into future human development.
Drumming is an unusually good fit to basketball because of team play, rhythmic movements & beats, and brain wave entrainment or BWE. Drum beats and BWE can help synchronize plays and on-court communications in basketball. It can help in heightened awareness of ball movement and connectedness on the court.
Drumming with basketball can be adapted both to health & fitness, and team play.
Health and Fitness
A group is split into (5) parts consisting of: sitting down hand drumming, standing shakers & bells, standing sound shapes, on court ball handling & shooting, standing playing (tapping) on your body. These play parts are about movement and syncopation. Playing and shooting is about moving every part of your body in a coordinated rhythm. Within several minutes, a group rhythm evolve and synchronize between all the parts of the group, and there will become a magical synergy that will aid both those playing instruments, and those with the basketballs.
1. Warm up with the above drumming for basketball fitness program
2. Next, 5 players take an instrument and spread out on the court in their respective positions as follows:
-center/power forwards on bass and large djembes
-shooting guards on mid-size djembes
-point guard on either shaker or bell
3. The objective is to communicate and synchronize sound and movement, and take turns leading by position. Each of the instruments offers a unique role in leading a drum circle, as does player roles/skillsets in basketball.
4. The role of the bench is to support the drum circle via misc small percussion, clapping, and vocal calls and chants from the sidelines, where the bench is given opportunity to lead the drum circle both from the bench, and once they enter the game, since their role in syncopation has already been established.
5. Lastly, the role of the basketball drum circle is to continue to play even when you fall out of rhythm, as your commitment to keep playing so as to re-establish your rhythm, is synonymous with staying on your game plan even when you’ve fallen behind and out of rhythm, because eventually you will re-connect. The drum circle and basketball play circle are both very similar and teaches players about team building, trust, believing, and staying together. And sometimes, you need to let it all go, to get your MOJO back!
Drumming & Basketball after Concussion (esp Football)
Drumming and basketball can be used in the treatment of concussion symptoms, and for long term management of concussion symptoms and neurological disorders. Athletes are advised to take it easy and not engage in substantial physical or sensory stimulation activity. Light physical rhythmic moving and shooting basketball meets the post concussion protocol criteria. Adding drumming to basketball helps players relax, and improves spatial awareness, physical coordination, and cognitive skill. The benefits are optimized when shooting or drumming outdoors in a park setting.
I’ve done some research with sensory processing disorder, or SPD, and with difficulty in cognition following brain injury and hydrocephalus. The spectrum of symptoms seen following concussion includes: sensitivity to lights, sounds, and scents (termed SPD dysfunction), migraine, problems with balance, awareness & disorientation, and irritability, which can trigger behavioral outbursts and irrational conduct. The symptoms can render an individual with challenges in cognitive accessibility in terms of reading and understanding written (user) instructions, web sites, mobile devices, and with sound intolerance in public places, and television and radio broadcasts (esp commercials).
I also have an in-depth blog on drumming for football. If you’re interested in drumming for post concussion, or management of concussion along side NFL & NBA concussion protocols, please contact me directly.
I can be reached in Newport Beach, California, via my contact information below. CLICK & SAVE my JPEG card for future reference.
This Orange County firm wasn’t sure what they were getting into when they asked to have a drum circle workplace wellness program in their firm in March 2015. The twenty or so employees who attended became highly engaged, creative, and experienced a big boost in their energy.
In the above video, staff can be seen exploring creativity and communications with fellow employees. There was also a genuine willingness to follow Dolle’s instructions to bring what began as a rhythm only with bells, into a fully synchronized drum circlerhythm.
In life & work, innovation comes when you trust your instincts in working with one another. This 8-minute rhythm in this drum circle video began with (4) complimentary gongo bell patterns that involved two senior partners of the firm. Next, hand drums, sound shapes, and small percussion were incrementally brought in to support the bells and beat pattern. The result was an improvisational masterpiece. The video only captured the final two minutes.
The truth is, the same health challenges that affect us at home, can affect your productivity, creativity, and problem solving abilities at work. So this Orange County firm experienced how drumming can be one of the best activities for workplace wellness, how it stimulates employee engagement, and activates key productivity centers in the brain.
As founder, drum circle facilitator, and neuroscientist with Dolle Communications, Stephen Dolle has considerable experience with drum circles and related workshops. He can also offer tips on employee engagement and productivity. Dolle has seen a lot of workplace challenges made more manageable thru drumming. What makes drumming unique, is how it affects both the brain and body, where the vibration of the instruments produces a calming effect on the individual. It results in a happier, more engaged, and connected employee ready to deal with the challenges of the workplace.
Drum Circles in the Workplace
There are a variety of ways that drum circles are used to bring positive change, increased productivity, and employee resiliency to the workplace. Three of these include:
Drumming for stress reduction/resiliency, where drum circles allow employees to engage and play/share during the middle of the work day in a fun environment. The benefits include increased productivity and employee health. Typical play times are 30 to 60 minutes.
Drumming for team-building, where drum circles are used to help employees better connect and improve working relationships, critical in team concentric operations. This type of drumming is also ideal at ice-breakers and retreats to get participants to come and and engage with others. The benefits include increased expression of thoughts & ideas, improvement in productivity, and fewer errors and mis-understandings thru improved communications. Typical play times are 60-90 minutes.
Drumming for creativity & problem solving in the workplace. This is an issue in the workplace that is not well understood, where strategies range between compartmentalizing challenges to brain storming sessions. Ultimately, there are two primary forms of problem solving: 1) analytical or comparitive reasoning, and 2) free-thinking where methods are employed to free up worker’s minds. The benefits include increased problem solving ability thru retraining of the mind. Typical play times are 60 to 90 minutes.
Now for some remarkable brain science and workplace development. Employees tend to play much better when not instructed as to how or what to play. The reason is, when faced with unfamiliar circumstances and no punative consequences, employees will usually rely on their innate problem solving abilities, in which case here is the ability to play music and rhythm that is innate within all of us. As such, most groups do very well.
Group drumming in the workplace then builds trust and confidence in one’s innate abilities, where typically people have either been discouraged from trusting their judgment, or have been given strict instruction not to act on their initiatives. It is in this latter regards that strict company structure can leave employees never learning to trust their judgment in leadership, problem solving, or managerial duties. Group drumming can be just what the doctor ordered, and help usher in change towards more healthy group dynamics. Not only is this good for productivity, it’s critical for stress-relief and mental health.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines “workplace wellness” as a health promotion activity or organization-wide policy designed to support healthy behavior and improve health outcomes while at work. They report that these programs should consist of activities such as health education and coaching, weight management programs, medical screenings, on-site fitness programs, and more.
Notwithstanding living with chronic illness or injury, the biggest challenge to workplace productivity remains employee engagementand maintaining the necessary focusto do your job really well. Dolle says more challenges at work are due to inadequate mental focus. So he says the solutions, then, should be tailored to maintaining mental stamina, flexibility, and executive cognitive skills.
There are a number of organizations today which provide consulting in employee health as recommended by the CDC. The CDC also offers a free worksite health scorecard and other materials for implementing a health promotion program in your workplace.
Concentra also offers health program consulting designed to encourage healthier lifestyle behavior in employees, intended to reduce health care spending. A successful wellness program can benefit employers by developing and maintaining a healthier, more productive workforce and community.
Dolle notes that the two most important things you can undertake for wellness and productivity at work is proper hydration with water throughout the day, and moving about physically. You should also follow these practices at home. These two simple steps, he says, help keep blood flowing to deliver oxygen and needed nutrients to your body’s vital organs, including, to your brain.
Dolle Communications provides drum circle facilitation, tips on employee engagement and productivity, learning and leadership, and mHealth design consulting in the greater Orange County, CA area. Dolle provides all the necessary instruments and materials for a drum circle, and facilitates a variety of drumming workshops at your place of business or desired location. Drum circles aid resilience, leadership, creativity, productivity, and wellness in the workplace. It truly is an organicly inspired staff experience!
The company puts on a variety of drumming for wellness workshops, which have become recognized today within integrative medicine in offering substantial health benefits to a range of medical conditions.
Dolle also has several startups under his belt, including, DiaCeph Inc.,a startup for his 1997 design of an mHealth app (DiaCeph Test) for hydrocephalus. And from 1982 to 1992, he serviced more than 50 hospitals through his medical imaging company, Certified Nuclear Imaging (CNI).
CNI presented Dolle with the opportunity to work with a vast array of medical instrumentation challenges that would be overwhelming for most technologists. He developed workplace methods and discipline that allowed him to excel in complex technical and medical challenges. The result was that he became more productive in performing procedures, while having extra time for sales and marketing to develop new business. He also became astute in client facility workplace challenges and often advised in human resource and medical instrumentation purchase matters, and wrote papers on these topics. Later, he raised money for and helped organize local sports & entertainment events, that could also be very demanding.
Dolle has been involved in the neurosciences since 1992 with his mHealth technology start-up, DiaCeph Inc.,and now with Dolle Communications. He describes workplace wellness as being about optimizing one’s energy and mental focus over a period of hours, days, weeks, and months. It is the few, the exception, he says, who truly master these challenges and successfully balance life and work.
Dolle says the keys to workplace productivity is thru employee engagementand staying involved and “entrained” in what is happening around you. As you ascend in your work to higher positions, you will need to develop methods that exert more control over brain wave states and productivity.
“Engage the Rhythms of your Brain”
Dolle has undertaken research with “brain waves” and brain wave entrainment, and employs these methods in his drum circles and facilitation work.
He describes that we change between alpha and beta brain wave states during our normal day, and that certain tasks and activities are best performed while in a particular brain wave state. Naturally, he says, our brain’s tire and we can become stressed and distracted. The experienced individual learns to transition their brain wave states and cognitive focusto overcome these challenges.
If you’re reading a slow moving book or working on a tedious problem at work, for instance, you’ll want to be in a slower more introspective alpha brain wave state. But, if you are tackling a multi-faceted project, or are working with a team of staff people on a project, you may want a faster more attentive beta brain wave state. And one of the best ways to shape your brain waves is either thru “controlled breath” or “rhythmic movement.” This slide below illustrates some of the mechanisms involved in movement.
There are a variety of techniques to help you transition between brain wave states. And group drumming, or drum circles, is one of the best. Drum circles utilize auditory drivingand spur mindfulness techniques. Drumming also engages body kinesthetics thru rhythmic movement of instrument play. These movements stimulate the body’s proprioceptive memories, which boost cognition. This is why you perform better at cognitive tasks when tapping out patterns or shaking a foot at your desk. Group drumming also enables team brain wave entrainment, helpful in boosting productivity. Kinesthetics come into play in tai chi and yoga, among others.
Group brain wave entrainment in drumming allows “entrainment” of the group to a rhythm played over 5-10 minutes. When sustained, members entrain to a common brain wave pattern, and thought intent. Rhythms vary from slow to fast, from primal to contemporary, corresponding to activation of hindbrain vs frontal lobe function. This principle is why you should not listen to contemporary musicwhile meditating, as it will help awaken conscious memories and activate the frontal lobe, which will interfere with breath entrainment with your hindbrain.
Sports play uses entrainment to for connectedness and success on the field or court. My in-depth basketball blogdetails the brain science and sports science mechanisms involved in play. Entrainment allows you to anticipate your teammate’s actions.
Another example of entrainment is when women work or live together, when they achieve syncopation of their menstrual cycles. Rioting is yet another example of group entrainment, though based on negative thought and intent. Entrainment occurs in animals too, and is widely seen in pack hunting. Entrainment occurs more often in real life than you might think.
There has been quite a bit of recent research with drumming and brain wave entrainment, which has led to drumming being used more often in stress reduction, cancer therapy, and treatment of chronic illness. Dolle undertook earlier research in sensory processing disorderor SPD, with this 2002 Sensory Processing Study. Two years later, he became involved in drumming.
Dolle spoke on brain wave entrainment and trance statesin STEM3 educationat Wright State University in 2011. Below is his power point via SlideShare.net.
Dolle believea trance heightened states are in fact a functional cognitive state you can achieve each day, and it is reported to occur in playing music, meditation, religious studies, fasting, and several other disciplines. Trance heightened states is mostly likely what athletes achieve when “in the zone” in sports.
Trance states could bring amazing new expert proficiencies to a variety of occupations. As an individual employee, your workplace goals in productivity should be in learning to better shift between alpha and beta brain wave states, and maintain optimum engagement so to get the most out of your work day.
Perhaps some of the most exciting research being done today with rhythm and the brain is at the Gazzaley Lab at the University of California San Francisco, in collaboration with the Grateful Dead’s long time drummer, Mickey Hart.
The Gazzaley Project is described as “Unlocking the power of rhythm to understand and enhance brain function.” Rhythm is a fundamental aspect of the universe at every level, and serves as a critical foundation for life on this planet.
They’ve created a new video of some of their music and brain research in an effort to make it more fun and informative.
The goal of the project is to advance an understanding of rhythm in higher-order brain function and how we influence brain rhythms through interventions like neuro modulation, rhythm training, video games, and neurofeedback. The ultimate goal of the project it says is to improve cognition and mood in the healthy and impaired, and positively impact quality of our life.
Here is a fun related article about rhythm and the brain.
As for new trends in workplace wellness, the article below discusses a list of 12 U.S. companies with impressive workplace wellness programs. The list includes IBM, Aetna, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Virgin, Google, American Express, Johnson & Johnson among others. I am unsure on their standing with drum circles though.
To learn more about the use of drum circles in the workplaceand tips on employee health and workplace learning, contact Stephen Dolle at Dolle Communications. Feel free to also CLICK and SAVE the JPEG contact card below.
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com Web site: Dolle Communications Telephone: (949) 642-4592
I am writing this post largely in response to the New York Times story on abuse of psychostimulant drugs like Adderall & Ritalin, which are used to treat ADHD and ADD learning disabilities. In recent years, however, college students and others under pressure to perform at work and meet deadlines, have leaned towards taking psychostimulant drugs to stimulate cognitive performance, overcome tiredness, and avoid brain drain. The problem is, as many have learned, is that what goes up, must come down. And now there are reports of many young college students and workers becoming “addicted” to psychstimulant drugs.
If you ask my opinion, I think the answer to optimum cognitive performance and brain health, is proper rest, proper nutrition, and learning how to engage your brain while undertaking various activities. Unfortunately the latter, is a lifelong adventure of many different types of learning methods, philosophies, and trial and error to see which ones serve you best. For me, the most effective ones were those that challenged my belief system and learning biases. Obviously, these fans below at the Ohio State foolball game were highly engaged, though likely also with the aid of alcohol (that helps get you out of your shell).
Rest is a must for optimal brain performance. Remember what your mother told you? Get some exercise, work hard, and you’ll fall right asleep in the evening. But today, there are a myriad of supplements like melatonin to help you sleep without prescription drugs. Exercise is critical because it improves blood flow in the brain, and helps lower stress. And a glass of (preferably red) wine and a boring TV program, or nice book, will help you get to sleep at bedtime.
On nutrition, I say don’t overeat. Don’t eat junk food. Don’t drink too much alcohol. And don’t smoke! Drink plenty of fluids. Spend some money on good vitamins, maybe $30-50/month. There are many designer brain vitamins today too such as fish oils. And don’t think you’re going to find a solution in one or two vitamins. You have to try different supplements, and possibly find one or several that really works for you.
Next, exercise is key in managing stress, boosting blood flow in the brain, and workplace wellness. And sex is very good for you too. If need be, find an XX budy or two to serve those needs, unless you are strong willed and spiritually minded enough to overcome these human drives. Aerobic exercises with “rhythmic” movement core are the best for bringing oxygen into the brain, and for relieving stress. “Rhythmic” activities like walking, running, swimming, tennis, DRUMMING – help to balance the forebrain & hindbrain brain waves, and reduce stress.
Now, what I can tell you from my experiences with engagement and learning, is that it is a skill that must be learned. Some people develop this at a very early age, and can excell in school. For me, it started in junior high and developed slowly thru high school and college. But, it wasn’t really until I was about age 30, when I reached a point, where I could read something once, and completely absorb it. I somehow learned how to learn efficiently. It’s like anything you do, it’s in the “technique.” For you, you will have to figure out your own course and best methods. There are workshops and courses to improve learning. I’d go for established workshops and courses that challenge your “belief system” and the manner in which you learn, espicially if you are struggling with learning. You need a change in your beliefs & biases.
For me, after my 1992 brain injury and development of hydrocephalus, life and learning took on an entirely different meaning, especially in navigating through all my various shunt malfunctions and changes in cognitive performance. I think mostly it was my new learning methods utilizing my intuitive reasoning, and then analytical reasoning, that eneabled me to overcome my learning challenges. Analytical thinking allows you to reason and recall based on the “probabilities” of the most likely answer. To access your intuitive reasoning, do this by not pressing for an answer, rather, calmly ask your brain for an answer, a give it little time. You can get some amazing results when you learn to use your intuitive reasoning.
As for stimulants, I took “No Doz” in college. And as an adult, I’ve used coffee, vitamin stimulants, and potions they sell at check out of most stores. One of my favorite stimulants I’ve come to like in recent years, has been Green Tea capsules by Jarrow. You just need to find the number of, and time frame, for the capsules to optimize your brain state.
And lastly, you must learn how to “jump start” your brain avoid “brain drain” while studying at home, or busy at work. The answer is a combination of optimum learning methods and employee engagement, where you “engage” your brain in activities that put you in the optimum “brain wave state” for performing your task at hand. There are several brain wave sensors available today that you can couple to your computer or mobile phone. But I’m not going to promote these here.
As for brain wave states and brain wave entrainment, there are certain times of the day, and specific activities, where certain states of beta vs. alpha brain waves are going to the most optimal for your task. You can actually alter your brain wave patterns thru music, drumming, rest/meditation, exercise, or any activity that allows you to synchronize your body movements and tempo to a given signal. The goal is to find the optimum brain wave state that will make you the most productive for any given task. And it also is denpendant upon time of day, and your state of mind/rest at that time. Brain wave readers can be helpful in letting you know your state. But you can also sort of sense this if you do it as an everyday practice. My concern with brain wave readers, is that you could end up getting neurotic over controling your brain waves. There is no simple solution. Companies must be more attentive today in workplace wellness, employee engagement, and any abuse of psychostimulants. The natural course of best learning methods, and learning to better use intuitive reasoning, and analytical reasoning, in solving complex challenges at work.
If you haven’t already done so, you should take a look at what I’ve written on the brain science of “basketball,” specifically relating to mindfulness. I have a good 7 years now utilizing basketball in this fashion, and I can attest it provides a tremendous buzz in mindfulness and stress relief.
The solution is to do ALL of the above, and develop a system for yourself and within your company that works best for you.
Below, is the New York Times article that appeared on April 18, 2015:
Chosing the right mHealth app can be confusing. Today, we see an array of health & mHealth mobile apps designed for consumers. But are you using them correctly, or are you wasting your precious time and money?
Whether it be for monitoring of exercise, fitness, or weight loss, or for more serious conditions like diabetes, sleep disorders, or shunt malfunction in hydrocephalus, consumers and developers would be wise to better understand how health and mHealth apps can benefit one’s health. The biggest problem I see is how health and mHealth apps are categorized, which then determines how they will be used. So I have written up a few suggestions to better help consumers and developers in selecting their mHealth apps. I have grouped health and mHealth apps into three (3) categories.
First, a little info about me. I am an early designer and pioneer of a 1997 neuromonitoring app, the DiaCeph Test, intended to run as a dedicated PDA device. I worked in nuclear medicine technology from 1976 to 1992. My specialty was setting up very technical medical instrumentation for best use. But a brain injury & CNS shunt for hydrocephalus in 1992 changed all that, and I became involved in artificial intelligence (AI) in assistive cognitive applications, and in mHealth apps for hydrocephalus monitoring. In 1997, I designed and patented one of the earliest mHealth apps, the DiaCeph Test. It was to run on a PDA. I was not able to raise enough funding for development and FDA guidance, but offer free paper FORMS and user INSTRUCTIONS, plus provide consults to individuals with hydrocephalus and their families. The link below explains these services.
This also includes global health information on hydrocephalus. From 17 years earlier work and consulting in nuclear medicine, I’m well versed in medical software and UIs for medical technology. Today, I am also a drum circle facilitator, and put on drumming workshops for a number of medical conditions. Furthering our understanding of cognitive therapies and cognitive accessibility will play an increasingly important role in designing future mobile apps and interfaces, or UIs.
First Health App Category:
Apps that only provide medical resource information, i.e. WebMD, Medscape. They are generally not harmful if from a respectable source. Still, there are dangers in relying on a single site and piece of advise. I prefer to search for medical sites on the web, where topics will be hyper-linked to other web pages. This way you’re not limited by one app. One of my favorite sites is MayoClinic.com. I like their format. You should become familiar with an array of health & medicine sites, where you’ll come to know who you can trust and which formats you prefer. Now that you’re reading up on health and medicine, it’s time to select an app you might use to help track everyday things like exercise & fitness, or nutrition and weight loss. These apps I put into my Second Health Category. But if you have a chronic medical condition, or are being evaluated for some new serious medical disorder, then you’ll want to skip to my Third Health Category.
Second Health App Category:
Apps that collect information on health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and stress management, plus a few more not mentioned here. For the most part, these apps do not serve a medical purpose, unless you are being treated by a physician or therapist who will review the data. So if you plan to use them for this purpose, you should really skip up to the third catagory. This second app category is perhaps more intriguing, than medically useful. And it then raises the question, What are you going to do with the data? Unless you are working with a trainer, therapist, or physician who knows how to interpret them, and will advise you accordingly, you may be wasting your time. Once your results reveal a true health issue, then you’ll need to move up to the third category.
Third Health App Category:
Apps for disease management, which is my specialty. Here you track specific data for a specific medical condition via an app designed to monitor your condition. But you should really be working with a physician or specialist who can interpret the data and treat you. You may also have to pay extra fees. Otherwise, you will likely be left with useless data, and no specialist to act on it. I recommend physician concierge services where you can pre-arrange apps, and then interact via email and telephone. Besides concierge services, some physicians will communicate with you via email, which can be very helpful. Disease management apps also help in the prevention of medical errors and incorrect diagnosis. We’re still in the early years for these apps. But in time, they will become an integral part of patient care in the management of chronic disease.
Below, is my blog discussing how weather apps can be used to manage migraine and triggers due to dramatic change in barometric pressure. The barometric pressure image below is a screenshot of my Elecont HD app from Jan. 31, 2016, where the curve reveals a dramatic fall, and then rise, in barometric pressure which can cause migraine and related problems for persons with an array of neurological disorders, including, hydrocephalus, which I live with. This blog discusses migraine in depth and how weather apps are an effective tool in managing these health challenges. Also SEE my blog on how decibel meter apps can help with sound induced headache due to sensory processing disorder. Coming soon: Integration of Brain Wave Readers in neurology apps.
I initially wrote this blog in response to an April 16, 2015, article in the New York Times technology section, which wrote about health and mHealth apps and whether they are good for everyone. Sadly, I found their conclusions and recommendations vague and incomplete. But without a comments section, I ended up writing my response on LinkedIn, and then on my blog here. The title of the NY Times article was:
Report Questions Whether Health Apps Benefit Healthy People
On March 23, 2016, the New York Times “On Technology” magazine ran an interesting story on women’s use of mHealth apps for managing women’s health. I found it provocative in that it delved into the female psyche & biology of women, and perhaps a superior ability to entrain to one another (McClintock Effect, synchonicity of monthly cycles).
The article then cites a study of over 130 women who were more comfortable keeping personal health information in an app, than sharing with doctors. Is this an aberation? Perhaps not. It has been shown in multiple studies how women are more early “adopters,” and how women more readily entrain to one another than their male counterparts. But it’s unclear if men similarly are less willing to share medical information with doctors. In either case, I think these findings give us insight into design preferences in mHealth apps.
As for women being more able to entrain with each other, I can attest to this from my work with drum circles. They are more emotionally connected. It definately comes through in my work with drum circles, or “group drumming.”
Whatever your needs are, I hope you find a health or mHealth app that works for you, and find a physician or therapist to interpret your results, and advise you medically. If you’re an mHealth developer, I hope you learned something here you can use in your development and marketing of mobile apps.
As far as prep on my DiaCeph Test app for hydrocephalus, I am mostly done with my Creative Brief/App Proposal. If I can advise (consult for) others on mHealth app development, I am happy to do so.
The DiaCeph app was designed initially for a PDA before mobile data apps were available. Still, its diagnostic design is state of the art today. This could also be coupled for monitoring of migraine, EEG readings, SPD, PTSD, and other app functionality. Below, is my blog on the DiaCeph Test.
Below are links to my recommended neuro apps for Hydrocephalus
Metal & EMF Detector – App Smart Tools app measures magnetic fields of electronic & magnetic devices in one’s living environment that could alter the setting of a programmable CNS Shunt for Hydrocephalus
Sound Meter – Smart Tools Decibel Meter app measures the loudness of sound helpful in SPD or sensory processing disorder.
On March 16, 2015, as a neuroscientist and intuitve of sorts, and drum circle facilitator, I posted on my Facebook and LinkedIn Orange County Drum Circle groups that I’d like to organize some “Drumming for Rain” drum circles to help bring rain to California. On April 6th, I wrote this blog in support of the spiritual and cognitive neurosciences aspect of the proposal, and since added my supporting experiences. So, this blog has been a work in progress. I haven’t updated since June 2015. but wanted to enclose the links to the two OCDC groups where this began, and which would host content if this ever comes to fruition.
I am suggesting three or four coordinated drumming events in all, with the first one beginning as early as June 2015. I renamed this blog, and going forward, it will serve as a key piece of the project’s information platform.
I am reaching out to regional drumming groups, American Indian tribes, and other organizations with an interest in drumming for rain. The format will follow best available spiritual, physical, and entrainment methods in drumming for rain.
This idea originated this past January when I had a vision on how multi-site drumming events just might help bring rain to California, and end the drought we’re hearing so much about in the news. I thought it might become a fantastic idea, organizing groups, calling upon the spirits. Positive human energy! True intent!
I have had passion for various kinds of drumming for more than 10 years, but particularly, drumming with nature, animals, and spiritual causes, and I regularly utilize his spirituality in my drumming events and workshops. I’m following a “vision” on how this project should proceed. Since 2005, I’ve organized over 100 different drumming events, and I feel guided in organizing the various groups to bring this about, and bring rain to drought-ridden California. I was inspired in 2008 when churches in the Southeastern United States organized prayer groups to help bring rain to the five year drought that affected that region. I also written to Goerge Nouri over at Coast to Coast Radio to share these plans.
Some of my past experience in drumming for weather and nature includes a 2007 “Drumming for Snow” event outside the Stefan Kaelin Ski store in Newport Beach. The following morning, it began to snow, and it snowed for four straight days.
I have been playing in drum circles since 2004, and organizing drumming events since 2005. My drumming with nature and animals has included: drumming for snow, horses, birds, sea lions, whales and dolphins, neighborhood dogs, and many numerous eco, full moon, and solstice events.
My experiences with the spirit world date back to his youth with American Indian cultural activities in Ohio and Michigan. In high school, I was found to know things he had no way of knowing. This led to his reading books on the mind, philosophy, meditation, and healing. In 1973, I began college in pre-med and became fascinated with psychology. But, my heart was not in medicine per say, so I switched my major to nuclear medicine technology, a branch of medical imaging, where I could continue reading and spiritual interests.
In 1981, I developed the ability to sense illness in my nuclear medicine patients, now termed a medical intuitive. Between 1981 and 1992, while working as a nuclear medicine technologist at numerous facilities around Orange County, California, most of these years with my own company, Certified Nuclear Imaging, I interviewed hundreds of sick and dying patients who shared their inner most thoughts and fears about life and death. What I learned, would astound you. I took an oath not to breach their privacy. But where able to, I would share some key experiences and stories.
As part of this Drumming for Rain project, I’ve reached out to two American Indian friends who are percussionists for their input and guidance. And I am contacting others with experience in drumming for rain. Then I’ll write up the suggested format for the events, to be shared with interested groups. I anticipate anywhere from 5 to 25 or more drumming, American Indian, and other groups will join this project, and play “sychronously” at the set times. I feel the synchonicity and energy could help produce the needed spirit call for rain in California. The locations shall be determined in the next several months by the area groups. I’ll post it here, on my Facebook & LinkedIn groups, and share the various web site and groups who will be participating. Follow your spirit guide as to where to play.
Likely Dates: The 1st event could be as early as mid June 2015, with 2-3 others scheduled Sept-Dec to reach into the rainy season. Each location/group can then tailor the drumming format to their own drumming practices and level of familiarity. Follow your spirit guide as they say!
Below, I am seen playing to sea lions along the Pacific Coast near Carmel in 2014.
In the unusual 2009 photo taken at a large full moon drum circle, there are thought to be spirit images or animal spirits, in the flames of the bonfire. I would regularly attend and often lead this drum circle, and would channel my energies to heal others in the world and around us.
On numerous occassions, I’ve witnessed drummers leave their present state of mind enter into likely “trance heightened states.” There are documented medical studies of musicians, monks, people who fast, and others in disciplines where they can channel themselves into “trance heightened states.” SEE the Power Point from 2011 I delivered at Wright State University. I believe when athletes get “in the zone” and deliver amazing on field play, they too are in trance heightened states. Many credit God too!
My American Indian influences began as a young child growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I became exposed and fascinated with American Indian culture, practices, and traditions as early as age 3. In the summers, I would travel with my family to Northern Michigan, where I was exposed to American Indian culture. Ohio and Michigan had very deep and positive American Indian historical connections. In the forest by where I grew up, we named a particular hill and lookout “Indian Flats,” and regularly hiked to this site. At Summer camp, I made Indian crafts and clothing. At night, I would wander about with my brothers and kids from the neighborbood, and this is really where I honed my nightime telepathic skills. Between ages 5 and 16, I spent a considerable amount of time in the forest. At 16, I had my first documented intuitive, or paranormal, experience of knowing things. By 21, I was able to call upon these abilities without outside assistance.
In the photo below, I am seen speaking at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, on drumming for the brain concepts in STEM3 education.
If you’re interested in drumming, you should start by taking a basic class or workshop in your area. There are plenty of instructors and stores which sell instruments today, and community drum circles to get started. Eventually, you might find yourself playing to the weather, to animals and eco events, on stage, or at a healing event or ceremony.
To learn more on my drum circles and drumming for the brain, visit my web site and web pages on drum circles.
Let me share that I am shocked at Robyn’s unscientific approach to the syndrome of PMS, which is reported to be associated with a spectrum of physical and emotional health problems. In my 23 years of public health brain research, and in my drumming for the brain work with special populations, including, women’s health, I’ve seen countless examples of how physical disorders actually affect brain health, and how disorders of the brain affect physical health. It’s no longer a mystery. The real question is, what to do about it? So I left the comment below on Robyn’s TED talk page. I hope she and others read it.
Let’s use 2015 Brain Awareness Week to take a fresh look at PMS.
As a scientist, my gut sense is that PMS is rooted more in the brain’s sensitivity to changes in hormones. For instance, women are far more affected by thyroid, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. They are more likely to feel empathy and have higher levels of the hormone oxytocin. Women also are able to “entrain” their menstrual cycles readily to each other, which is a function of their sensitivity. So, it would seem with this increased sensitivity to emotions, hormonal changes, and activities going on around them, that women could also suffer problematic physical changes in the brain and body from this resulting sensativity. Interestingly, I suspect there are similarities with PMS to that of PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, where for one cause or another, an individual’s brain is less able to process sensory information, and the results are physical changes in the brain, and eventually, in their overall health. Where PMS is a women’s syndrome, PTSD more disproportionately affects men.
Migraines more disproportionately affect women likely due to their higher hormonal activity and lower hydrostatic pressure in the brain from lower blood volume, and brain pressures. I’ve written about how weather apps and web sites can help in managing weather induced migraine headache.
Weather related low barometric pressure then is also more likely to induce migraine and hypotensive states in women, than in men. And, the slight loss of blood associated with menstruation, can cause a slight drop in blood pressure and exacerbate migraine syndromes. Together with each woman’s unique psychological makeup, these factors lend itself to a problematic cause & effect of mechanisms that impact brain health in women. Conversely, PTSD seems to affect women far less than men. So it would seem there are some unique health advantages to women’s physiology and brain health.
In support of women’s health, I put on drum circles and drumming events for women’s groups, and for women and others in the workplace.
Women tend to suffer fewer problems with homelessness, and drug and alcohol addiction, than their male counterparts.
This appears to be rooted in differences in the male versus female brains. One difference is with the neurochemical, oxytocin, widely regarded as the “love hormone,” which is found in higher levels in women than in men. But men who are active in community outreach and charitable activities, tend to have higher oxytocin levels. There is now an oxytocin nasal spray which has been greeted with mixed results. More recently, when I consider the plight of area homeless people and their associated mental health challenges, I can’t help but wonder whether oxytocin spray might help them, or whether their helping at an area outreach project might boost oxytocin levels, and help normalize wider brain function. Change has to begin somewhere. Here’s a related study:
In September 2015, I gave an in-depth presentation on how methods of alternative medicine can be used in drug and alcohol addiction, and covered related sensory processing disorder and cognitive accessibility. I also own the domain for CognitiveAccessibility.org.
In my 23 years of being involved in brain care and public health as both a patient and researcher, I’ve seen countless examples of how the prevailing views can be wrong. And Robyn’s dismissal of PMS as a physical syndrome, would appear to be wrong. I also think an mHealth app, coupled with blood work, counseling as needed, exercise, and wellness strategies, could be very helpful in management of PMS.
I am concerned with how Robyn Deluca glosses over the obviousness of PMS as NOT having “measurable medical sequela.” Instead, she attempts to label it a mental health or psychiatric disorder.
I think PMS should be labeled an actual disorder, a bit like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), where both are a collection of physical complaints secondary to stress and sensitivities in physiology. The medical field seems intent on denying the existance of both of these, as it similarly has with SPD. I have found shooting baskets to be a wonderful mindfulness therapy for stress and SPD related complaints, and authored this blog.
Over the longer term, untreated brain health issues can result in the development of sensory processing disorder, or SPD, which is a collection of real neurological complaints that the U.S. government continues to refute today. I’ve written a great deal on this topic.
Apparently, PMS is a heated topic. I was attached by a fellow reader after I initially posted my impressions on Robyn’s conclusions on PMS. I hope those of you with firsthand experience who work with PMS patients will continue to voice your views against the politics of medicine.
To learn more about my work, contact me at Dolle Communications.
Stephen Dolle Drum circle Facilitator & Neuroscientist Public Health Advocate Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com Web site: Dolle Communications Telephone: (949) 642-4592