When I was in Los Angeles a week ago, I found myself hanging around some neuroscientists and neuropsychologists, and they persuaded me to have my brain scanned and analyzed: a “QEEG”. I had no idea what it involved, but it was completely painless. I simply donned this funny-looking hat that had 19 recording electrodes. The electrodes picked up electrical impulses from different parts of the brain, and those impulses can be combined and crunched to triangulate the activity of deeper parts of the brain.
I had no idea what I was getting into, but the 60-minute procedure, combined with a computer program that analyzed my brain waves, produced a lot of information. I should add that this procedure is often done by therapists as well as physicians, and can cost from $500 to several thousand dollars depending on they type of QEEG done. My procedure would have cost $1,000, so I was pleased to get a freebie. But I was also scared that I would find out my brain was abnormal!
There are several types of QEEG analyses and we use SKIL – an advanced analysis program developed by UCLA professor Barry Sterman, a pioneer in research for clinical applications for neurofeedback and his then graduate student, David Kaiser.
The analysis of David and Orli, summarized by the latter; I’ve put the take-home message in bold:
Just so you know, Brodmann area theta unity is analyzed in SKIL brainmapping. It is a measure of corticolimbic connectivity, an indirect measure of myelination and distribution of sub-cortically driven theta associated with cerebral maturation.
Nearly all regions in your brain show mature integration of limbic and cortical functioning. Your sensory sampling speed is at the slightly faster end of the speed shared with the majority of people, and consistent across regions, which is an indicator of healthy sensorimotor development . However, your frontal lobe shows excessive theta similarity, an indicator of primal (unmodulated) functioning in bilateral BA9 and BA47, and there is less theta similarity of the ACC and Broca’s areas, an indicator of inefficiency in functions served by these areas.
Here is a list of the the type of functioning these regions are involved with.
BA 9 —hyperlimbic connectivity may impact cognitive flexibility and planning, being able to infer the intention of others, and empathy. Children who show poor attachment have poorer activation here. Recent studies have also shown this region is involved in social fairness, and excessive limbic functioning will result in a different sense of social justice than the dominant group.
BA 47 –more primal functioning in this region may reduce decision making and (again) being able to infer the intention of others, and to properly understand emotion (this hub has been shown to specifically relate to understanding emotion when communicated through prosody.)
Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) — the ACC is a major hub that has connections to both the “emotional” limbic system and the “cognitive” prefrontal cortex. Poorer integration of the ACC is associated with poorer decision making because of increased difficulty in holding two conflicting ideas simultaneously and because of poorer error detection. Poorer connectivity is also associated with poorer emotional awareness and recognition of emotional cues.
Broca’s area is associated with sequencing and hierarchical categorization, a subset that influences language.
In sum, the overall view is that most regions of your brain are functioning very well, better than most, but your ability to make decisions, infer intention of others, understand emotion and share in perceptions of social justice is driven by more limbic processes, making behaviors that rely on these abilities more challenging or unique.
I take this to mean that I have the moral sense and the empathy of an early mammal!
The type of corticolimbic integration are converted into colors, and, I was told, the more green your brain areas are, the more “normal.”. I was largely green, which greatly relieved me:
Re The Peter Test: I did not show any alteration in the functioning of my default-mode-network due to psychological trauma. In other words, there is no sign that I’ve been traumatized (this could either mean “never traumatized” or “traumatized and recovered from it”) which jibes pretty well with my own self-assessment.
And here’s my list of sampling rates from the 19 electrodes. The explanation, from Orli, is below. Of course most of it is beyond me, but I’m sure some readers will understand:
Sampling rates are shown two ways: dominant frequency table at 1/8 hz sensitivity and as spectral entropy plots which are 1 hz sensitivity. The “overall” is peak from 1 to 45 hz and can be ignored. This range will show artifact and delta and pink noise peaks. The sensory information gating peak is typically between 7-14 hz which is the second column and one to pay attention to. This information is also represented in spectral entropy plots. Here we can see the organization of frequency activity for each brain region (see first figure above).The peak frequency around 10.75 hz in much of your regions is calculated by tallying up frequency bins across recording. In the “eyes closed” condition typically we will see sinusoidal activity, and this is the primary speed of these sinusoidal waveforms. These waveform are generated by the thalamocortical loop and are the rate of inhibition by the reticular thalamic nuclei which sheaths most of the thalamus and is this inhibition is activated mostly by thalamus on the thalamic relay to cortex of sensory information when there is little or no sensory stimulation the thalamus goes into an idling speed and this is the relaxed rate of sensory volleying to cortex; i.e., our relaxed or default sensory sampling rate of environment. This is not our max rate- just our default; We can sample and gate information to the cortex faster or slower than this, depending on the situation.