This is part two of my interview with Mari Swingle
Thanks to Tsara Shelton for help with transcript editing.Rob: Welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up radio show WNJC 1360 AM at Washington towns reaching Metro Philly & South Jersey sponsored by OpEdNews.com. My guest tonight is Dr. Mari Swingle. She is a Neurotherapist who practices at the Swingle Clinic in Vancouver British Columbia and she's the author of a new book , i-Minds: How Cell Phones, Computers, Gaming, and Social Media Are Changing Our Brains, Our Behavior, and the Evolution of Our Species.
Rob: Because I just want to throw one more quote at you, you say and I'm quoting from your book, you say when alpha brain waves function correctly where and when they should, you are a superstar. Think supreme professional of Olympic athletes or the greatest innovative thinkers. For me Einstein, Chomsky and elite composers come to mind. When alpha is not a well regulated, well neither are you.
M.S.: Yes, and that's the difference I'm finding again the anxiety or addiction signature is very common amongst extremely successful people because it has been flipped into drive.
Rob: So it's really a matter of learning how to tap and regulate it?
M.S.: Yes, but there's also no coincidence that for a lot of people in this classifications, when they reach the pinnacles of their career or when they're forced into retirement, this is where addiction comes up so lawyers are infamous for liking their scotch, doctors and addiction this is known, athletes when they can't play due to injury or when they're forced into or not even forced, they have early retirement, the body can only take so much. There's very high alignment of addiction in these professions and populations and that's the 'what we do next'? You got through school, you have your family, you have driven to the top of your career and then you're there, what next? And that's where an addiction can form because you can't, there's nothing left to feed it with.
Rob: Ok I just want to take the alpha, your findings are a little too certain, I'm going to start talking about how Alpha can be good, how it can be a problem in the frontal area but you also talked in the book about how Alpha is associated with creativity and what you're finding is that there's a real change happening with iTechnology that is pretty scary. Talk about that.
M.S.: Very much so. Here I have to give credit to my own father Dr. Swingle Sr. He was responsible for discovering what we refer to as the artist signature. So what this is, is when you close your eyes, Alpha goes up by at least a 30% centrally and by at least 50% occipitally. So essentially from eyes open to eyes close condition and when we found that that was robust meaning ran up by 100% in the back and 50% or so in the front. This was unilaterally associated with creativity. Now it could be in the modern sense of singing and dancing and painting but also in terms of the classical sense so higher levels of mathematics, architecture and one of the things that absolutely saddens me, it's probably been around 10 years ago, I found that kids that cross our threshold here, they have behavioral disorders, their educational learning disabilities etc. so we always want to latch onto something positive when we're giving them the bad news of why they can't focus for example and when we would see the signature, we'd always doubt on it in a positive way and say: Ah, yes Joseph does have trouble with focusing in school but isn't he also creative? Does he also have these features and parents would go, oh yes, and they'd be overjoyed by extreme positives to the child as well. And around ten years ago, I started to notice the parents are going yeah he used to but not anymore. And I was hearing this over and over again and then I started to connect the dots and the really sad feature was this was precisely the time when a child discovered gaming. So essentially all of this creativity was going into gaming and this is why I talk about it, it's hijacking it, it's taking it away.
It's not that you play the game and you continue to sing and dance and play your Lego and things like that. It just gets completely taken over by the gaming and towards the creative process we also see this educationally but I know where you are leading me and that is one of the key things I found. Actually, it was when I was doing my PhD dissertation on Internet addiction, I saw something really peculiar, not peculiar, unusual on the raw EEG when I was going through the data and it was essentially an alpha fluttering. It was a lot higher than I would see anywhere else and a couple of instances was even in the spindling sometimes we see in seizure disorders, and the program wanted to edit these out as artifact. I didn't put it into my dissertation but I really watch this and I went back to the data and I saw that when I was really looking for it, it was in every single participant's data and then I started looking for it in my clinical cues, working with clients and what I was finding is that for individuals who acknowledge that they excessively use Internet or any screen-based device that you get this extreme augment in alpha with eyes closed and it's not the creativity wave anymore and this is why I refer to as hijacking. When I present at conferences, show these slides of data but we used to be talking around 250 rise in the back of the brain, I'm seeing 300, 500, 600. It's absolutely noticeable.
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