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Rehabilitation of the Working Memory

Posted Apr 22 2010 10:23am
Memory loss is a common issue for mold-exposed patients. Until I began the brain rehabilitation component of our journey, I had no idea the problem involved my working memory rather than my short-term memory. The working memory is centered in the prefrontal cortex. One aspect of working memory involves "holding on" to thoughts and tasks.

For example, last week I went into the laundry room for white vinegar. I noticed the load of clothes needed to be moved to the dryer. I went back to the kitchen and forgot the white vinegar. I couldn’t "hold on" to my reason for entering the laundry room.

This is why I can focus on my blog or answer an email. I’m performing one task. Multi-tasking is a different story.

Kathleen Stein has written an in-depth look at the prefrontal cortex, titled The Genius Engine: Where Memory, Reason, Passion, Violence, and Creativity Intersect in the Human Brain. Stein explains it this way
"Multitasking is a unique prefrontal talent that falls under the general rubric of 'working memory.' Working memory comprises the mind’s intersynaptic DNA, its central operating system for thinking-in-time. Or to use another metaphor, working memory provides the musical notation system from which the higher symphonies are composed."

The prefrontal cortex also handles attention. According to Stein, there are three types of attention
1. Focus. This involves the ability to "stay with" a thought or skill. For example, the batter focuses on the ball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand.

2. Effortful attention. Stein describes this as "dedication, the drive that compels a person to persevere, keep striving, maintain discipline, and keep his eyes on the prize. It can be inextricably bound up with motivation, will, and desire."

3. Exclusionary/inhibitory attention. According to Stein, this form of attention "repels the continuous sensory barrage to which the brain is exposed, and runs interference against distracting thoughts, and inappropriate behaviors and remarks. When brain damage to the orbitofrontal PFC causes the loss of this attention, primitive drives and emotions can gain the upper hand over reason and social conventions."

If the prefrontal cortex is compromised through a toxic exposure, one or all three of these forms of attention will be adversely impacted.

One of the tools often used for patients with ADD, MS, balance disorders, autism, and sensory integration disorder, as well as those with traumatic brain injuries, is the Interactive Metronome. This biofeedback computer program is an assessment and treatment tool designed to improve the neurological processes of motor planning, sequencing, and processing.

The following 3-minute video, filmed by my son Reagan, shows me working with the IM under the guidance of psychologist and toxic mold researcher Dr. Robert Crago.

Prior to this recording I was unable to hit more than three greens in a row.

This type of rehabilitation can be difficult during a heavy period of detoxification. For the right person, at the right time, it can be an excellent tool. For a list of certified network IM providers, see the Interactive Metronome website .
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