It is intriguing to think of how much of the brain is a continuum, and how much the definition of “normal” shifts from era to era. Traditionally black and white concepts such as genius, evil and madness, are challenged by new discoveries, and new looks at the way the brain processes impulses and inhibits behaviors. To many of us, this is old news. As any long time owner of a brain will tell you, it is hard to deny occasionally walking the line between normal and madness, or between genius and mediocrity. Recent surveys of the general population add further evidence to this. “Do you ever think people are talking about you?”, “Do you ever hear voices?”, “Do you ever think you might have special powers?”, “Do you ever talk to yourself, out loud?” Many people considered normal answer yes to questions usually reserved for people with some form of psychosis! I admit I have been talking to myself and openly berating malfunctioning electronic equipment since I was old enough to speak. In truth the brain often seems like a gray area in more than just color, and the definition of normal seems to be shifting.
A recent study by Daniel Nettle, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, suggests that one of the only defining differences between creativity and schizophrenia is the motivation to act, and the ability to feel and express emotions. Interestingly, he also analyzed mathematicians for symptoms of schizophrenia, and found just as many as in poets and artists – but in different areas. While mathematicians in general didn’t report near as many unusual experiences as schizophrenics, they did exhibit an “abnormal” lack of emotion and motivation.
Despite the evidence to the contrary, most of us feel fairly normal and well adjusted. In fact many people feel they could use an enhancement to their creative side. Creativity is “in”, and any resulting eccentricities are an acceptable side effect. Corporations pay big bucks to have their employees attend creativity-enhancing seminars. From a brainwave perspective, bursts of creativity seem almost inevitable. When I first started using entrainment I was amazed at the myriad of unrelated thoughts that would pass through my head. Memories from years past would surface, and my mind would start connecting ideas I never considered before. Creativity itself seems to be the act of connecting two previously unrelated ideas to form a new one. It is no surprise that ADD is linked to creativity. Having a mind that is naturally “out of the box” and constantly jumping from subject to subject can be an advantage during a brainstorming session.
Michael Hutchison wrote of a creativity-enhancing technique involving random stimulation at varying frequencies. David Siever writes of a similar method using music to control the entrainment rates, noting that “music modulation far outperforms theta sessions for creativity enhancement”. Our “brainstorming” session in NP2 follows these concepts by delivering erratic, semi-random stimulation that follows no particular pattern or predefined purpose. The idea is to stimulate the brain such that it is bombarded with as many ideas, memories and states as possible, until NEW ideas begin to take shape, and new mental connections are formed. There is a similar concept implemented in the “pRoshi” device by Roshi Corporation, which delivers semi-random stimulation from 1-45 hz, changed every few seconds. There is growing evidence that “random” protocols do stimulate neuronal growth. What is even more fascinating, in light of recent research on psychosis, is the evidence that random protocols may even be useful in TREATING schizophrenia. Common sense would say the last thing someone with psychosis needs is more randomness in their life, but again – analysis of the brain and how it processes information is dramatically changing how we look at everything.
The famous musician Sergei Rachmaninov composed his greatest work using a form of hypnosis. The “Rach 3” is so complex that people have been driven near insane just trying to play it 🙂
What we’ve been up to:
One of my favorite parts of this job is testing new equipment, and I just got done spending several weeks with a new pair of light glasses from AVStim. I must say, I’m impressed. The main feature I like is the positioning of the lights. No matter where my eyes drift to during a session, they still seem equally illuminated by the light. Additionally, the fact that these glasses can easily convert into an “open-eye” design is a fantastic feature (though one I don’t personally use often). According to the manufacturer, they spent a lot of time and money researching this new set, and so far I think it has lived up to the hype. I’ve taken quite a liking to them.
Here are some home made pictures I made of the new glasses:
Till next time, take care!