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Articles    H4'ed 12/2/09

Neurofeedback and Ayahuasca: A More Effective Program for Personal Growth

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Neurofeedback is a set of tools that allow you to sense otherwise hidden aspects of how your brain functions. It is useful to think of neurofeedback as a kind of hearing. A person learns to speak because they hear how their breath, larynx, and mouth make sounds. People who are completely deaf cannot master speech. In a similar fashion, neurofeedback facilitates the modification of aspects of your self that would otherwise be difficult or impossible.


Figure I. Real-time display showing the power, in micro volts, at different frequencies, in hertz, of a rapid series of measurement of the electric field at the scalp. Here the power is greatest in the Alpha band, ranging from 8 to 12 cycles per second. Taken from BioExplorer software, published by CyberEvolution, Inc.

There is a hitch: some aspects of yourself, which neurofeedback allows you to see, are hard to recognize because they are not the object of our senses, but rather our senses themselves. Are sounds brighter than they used to be? Am I having an easier time organizing my thoughts? It's often hard to tell.

New senses can be difficult to control. Consider developing perfect pronunciation in a foreign language, or overcoming a speech impediment. We think that we're aware and in control, but these familiar examples show things are not so simple. Feedback plays an essential role.

The prospect of learning new cognitive skills begs the question of what cognitive skills we have to begin with.

7 - Cognition

I laugh when I think of how little I know about myself. Certainly I'm busy talking to myself about myself, and about what's going on around me, but what are the elements of which I'm made? The elements of cognition are not what we recognize as our character, and that is because raw aptitude has no personality.

What mechanisms would we see if we opened up our heads and "looked under the hood?" It should come as no surprise that we are made from simple, basic things; things we all share but rarely study. We don't consciously look for these things, but we would immediately notice their absence. Among other things they include:

Certitude: the degree to which you recognize and hold a point of view, and your degree of comfort in dealing with unfamiliar things.

Coordination: you can bring a spoon to your mouth, but can you dance in pitch darkness?

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My interest is in advancing health, insight, and function on personal and community levels. My training is in clinical neurofeedback with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and experience with computers, shamanism, education, and indigenous cultures. (more...)
 
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