Saturday July 19, 2014

My Brain on EEG

I'm a Science Geek. I've loved Science, of all kinds, for as long as I can remember. I majored in Science from High School on and got my University degree in Microbiology (although I work with computers). In College, I also discovered Psychology and participated in as many Psych labs as I could, whether for extra credit or not.

I love learning about how the brain works. When Rich and I discovered Jeff Hawkins' book, On Intelligence, we purchased additional copies to give or lend to friends and family.

in 1994, I discovered the MBTI and I've been fascinated by it ever since. So, you might guess that I want to learn everything I can when science, brain studies, and the MBTI intersect! Or, as Dario Nardi put it:

Ah, the magic of Type + neuroscience... :-)

I first heard of Dario Nardi in the Fall of 2012, after I joined the Bay Area Association for Psychological Type, our local chapter of the APTi. He was our program speaker in December of that year. Prior to the meeting, I ordered a copy of his book, "Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People".

I read the book and enjoyed the presentation and workshop. I also envied the students who had taken part in Dario's study up to that point, wishing I could be one of them. But, I don't live in Los Angeles and wasn't a UCLA student.

A year and half later, I again had the opportunity to attend one of Dario's presentations, this time at a meeting of the South Bay Organization Development Network in San Jose. This time, Dario mentioned his most recent study, now open to people older than college students.

I thought about that... a lot. I don't like to travel, but we have relatives in Los Angeles. The opportunity was simply too good to pass up. So, I contacted Dario and made an appointment to visit LA in late June, take part in the study, and learn more about how my brain works!

Friday June 26, 2014

Electrode cap for 19 channel EEG recording

I arrived at Dario's lab at 10:30. After hellos (and time for a glass of water), we got set up. The process involves wearing an Electrode cap, something like a polka-dotted nylon bathing cap with cables coming off of it. The "polkadots" cover recessed, embedded electrodes in the cap. A ribbon cable connects the cap to the monitoring equipment; the wires fans out, inside the cap, connecting to each electrode. The "kit" also included a pair of wires (clipped to my earlobes) and a strap around my chest (presumably to keep everything from coming loose).

EEG signals are very weak, so making a good connection to the scalp is critical. Using a blunt-tipped syringe, Dario injected "Electro Gel" into the holes in the cap. He then connected the other end of the ribbon cable to the amplifier that read the signals and fed the results to a laptop computer. Finally... we were ready to start.

EEGcap2014 06 27 Ready2014 06 27

We started with the canonical "write your name, first with your preferred hand and then your other hand" exercise. This was followed by some simple meditation ("clear your mind") exercises, then moved on to things that caused me to think.

  • Short-term memory tests for lists of words or numbers...
  • Arithmetic problems, ranging from simple addition and subtraction to multiplication and division...
  • Values exploration (positive and negative expressions)...
  • Using word pairs in sentences...
  • Explaining ambiguous sentences...
  • Working through some complex "opportunities" problems (these reminded me of some of the examples in Dan Ariely's books...
  • Using my mobile to check email (I don't use email on the mobile so I sent Rich a Text)...
  • Listening to music...
  • Playing a video game...
  • Tossing a tennis ball back and forth...
  • A physical "mirroring" exercise...
  • A sketching exercise...
  • A creative exercise

Before I went to LA, Dario had sent me some plan-ahead information, saying "if you play a musical instrument, do drawing or painting, or otherwise engage in a creative activity that involves tools, we can try you doing that." I don't play a musical instrument or do art, but I do like to write. Having recently read a NYT article on brain activity in writers, I suggested expository writing as my creative activity.

I wrote two short (1-2 paragraph) pieces. The first was a description of something I know about (wikis). The second was a more creative piece, a proposal/synopsis of a play based on one of my responses to the "word pairs" exercise earlier. We were both interested to note that, while I was writing, my brain spent a lot of time in the blue "flow" state.

Dario removed the cap. I unclipped the earlobe clips and went to wash the gel off my forehead while Dario put together a draft report.

We sat and did a debriefing session. Dario walked me through my report and showed me my brain circuit map.

Highlights from the Lab Session Here are some qualitative observations and hypothesis from the lab session via the EEG monitor.
  • When presented with a task in front of you, you'd show a strong flash of "blue zen" delta waves at maximum amplitude. It's as if you were surveying the task, allowing all regions of your neocortex to consider, in an engaged and relaxed way, how to approach the task.
  • You often showed a low-amplitude "work mode" that is similar to the "tennis hop" of extraverted Sensing but with less alpha waves (body connection) and more gamma waves (red). This is a very intense mode.
  • When engaged in the writing exercises, you showed about 90% "blue zen" mode while typing. All regions are in synch, engaged and relaxed. The fiction exercises showed some alpha (body connection) as well.


Whole-Brain Mode

(Quantitative information, based on the computer analysis.)

Foremost, you frequently show a holistic "brainstorm" mode. This mode occurs when your open-ended executive (region Fp2) conducts all other neocortex regions (except goal-focused Fp1) to act in concert, synchronized as one. Behaviorally, this shows as brainstorming, data sorting, sensation-seeking, and/or synthesizing, either with others while engaging the environment or by oneself while quietly introspecting. This mode happens for you every 2.03 seconds.


Besides your whole-brain mode, the regions in the back of your neocortex are more densely wired than regions in the front. This indicates a likely preference for introverting.
  • Extroverting: Fast reacting, initiates interactions, and is energized by interacting with others.
  • Introverting: Slow reacting, spends time observing and reflecting, and is energized by time alone.

Executive Potential

Your left and right prefrontal cortexes work together exceptionally well, synching every 2.42 seconds. The left prefrontal cortex (Fp1) is "goal focused" and the right prefrontal cortex (Fp2) is "open-ended". Behaviorally, this indicates a balance:
  • Goal-focused Fp1: goal-setting, focusing, decision-making, perfecting, organizing, explaining, and "judging".
  • Open-ended Fp2: exploring, data sorting, sensation-seeking, self-reflecting, innovating, and "perceiving".

Then, we were finished. I could have done so much more!!

I'm very happy that I took the trip to LA to participate in the study. I'll need to read my report through several times to see what I may have missed.

Vickidoingexercise EEGscreenshot

Additional Reading and Videos

My Brain on EEG ( in category Personality Type , Special Interests , Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Sat, 19 Jul, 13:07 Pacific | «e»

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