Collins Conference Room
Michael Villanueva (Alpha Theta Center)

This event is by invitation only.

Abstract:  My seminar is a personal story how I came to work with the brain through the EEG and neurofeedback. Mapping and analyzing the raw EEG waveform by digital signal processing, I create brain training protocols from the data. As a combat psychologist deployed to Afghanistan, I took this skill set called “EEG Neurofeedback” where we witnessed unexpected enhancement of peculiar abilities in soldiers. I digitally and visually analyzed thousands of EEG recordings and have completed over ten thousand hours of neurofeedback.  With such experience you can feel the difference between the living, self-organized entity we call the brain and the wayward mind it apparently houses. While science debates if the EEG is an epiphenomenon or if the EEG is causal, Jimmy Dale Gilmour’s lyric “My mind has a mind of its own” is quite apt: You push her, she pushes back; you give her a cookie for several minutes straight, then take away the cookie, she will look for it incessantly for minutes and never once cease despite the lack of reward.  In a healthy state, she blindingly fast writes her own software to meet the demands of the moment; in an unhealthy state, she is slow to recognize her options – you could say she suffers from diminished degrees of freedom. In a healthy state, the EEG looks like bacon sizzle: complexity married to synchrony; in an unhealthy awake state, she is dominated by slow and rhythmic waves: Synchrony divorced from complexity. Neurofeedback is the only tool I know of that apparently, and nearly instantaneously, affects multiple sets of nested neural oscillators across spatial and temporal scales.  This presentation is a narrative blend of neurofeedback, EEG, and computational neuroscience within an autobiographical framework.  I assert that that measuring and analyzing the EEG is an underutilized window into the spatial and temporal dynamics of the human mind. Using data EEG gathered from clinical populations, as well as from active psychedelic states, I will show how digital signal processing tools from computational neuroscience can open windows into brain states and brain networks, and thus generate rich hypotheses.

Research Collaboration
SFI Host: 
Amy P. Chen