45. Brain retraining with Dr. Patrick Porter

Improving brain function through light and sound technologies.

Dr. Patrick Porter in a purple shirt smiling and with the Looking at Lyme logo in the foreground.

Fasten your seatbelts! In this podcast, Dr. Patrick Porter takes us on a journey into our brains, and shares with us his cutting edge technology aimed at improving our lives through brainwave technology.

Dr. Porter is a researcher, educator, author and creator of technologies that use light, sound and other strategies to improve brain function and performance. He has written several books including Awaken the Genius: Mind Technology for the 21st Century.

The neuroplasticity connection

Dr. Porter begins by explaining neuroplasticity in relation to the brain’s energy molecule, ATP, noting that it affects our ability to process information and improve plasticity. He became interested in brain states many years ago, while helping his father who was teaching the Silva method of brain training. These early experiences, followed by his own studies in electronics and psychology, lead to the development of technologies to improve brain fitness. His latest creation is called BrainTap.

 “In order to get more of the brain to function and to train the brain, we’re going to emit light pulses…it’s going to work the same way as a binaural beat…this doesn’t only happen with our ears, it also happens with our eyes, so we’ve matched these two to create a superior experience of training the brain into what we call a synchronized brainwave or a symphony of brainwaves because all five brain waves that are the primary brain waves, we need them all for different functions.”

Dr. Patrick Porter

Training the brain

Brain entrainment is similar to the way music helps to balance the hemispheres in our brains. Braintap uses an algorithm for entrainment and uses binaural beats, isotonic tones, frequencies and light that influence brain waves and brain function. These changes can be measured using QEEG (quantitative electroencephalogram) or heart rate variability and have been shown to last longer than simply listening to music.

Binaural beats

The Braintap headset uses light in the eyes in conjunction with both light and sound in the headphones. Dr. Porter explains that our eyes play a role in 30% of what we hear. Lights in the headset work in a similar way to binaural beats in the ears. He notes that binaural beats cause a “phantom sound.” Different tones enter each ear, separated by only a few Hertz, and the brain perceives a new tone, the difference between the two original ones. 

 “If you want to show up as your best self, we want to eliminate stress from the equation. Stress turns on its own set of epigenetic markers that aren’t healthy, so we want to make sure that we’re in an open minded, positive outlook on life, and looking forward to healing and health, and setting those expectations, so that the body’s innate intelligence can go to work doing what it does best, which is to heal us.”

Dr. Patrick Porter

Composing a brainwave symphony 

Through the BrainTap technology, a “symphony of brain waves” is created, and each one has a different role. Dr. Porter also explains brain waves in terms of balance – too much beta and we may experience anxiety and stress. Different brain waves can be enhanced depending on the situation. For example, in the morning, we can get our “digital coffee” through enhancement of alpha brain waves. Later in the day, enhancing theta waves can improve visualization and at night, there are brain waves that help us sleep. He describes how deep sleep helps to detox the brain via the glial-lymphatic system.  

Brain synchronicity with animals and frequencies in nature

We learn that our brains match our environment through something called the frequency following response. Dr. Porter notes that this is demonstrated by the symbiotic relationship that people often have with their pets. He describes research showing that when bomb dog handlers relaxed using BrainTap, the dogs simultaneously relaxed through this symbiotic relationship. He explains that our own neurochemistry is triggered around animals and in nature through different frequencies of ocean waves, creeks and waterfalls…this is called the frequency following response. He explains that bonfires flicker at 10 Hertz, or alpha frequency, leading to the release of acetylcholine which is one of the neurotransmitters involved with the feeling of being in love.

The power of breathwork 

Another component of the Braintap system is conscious breathwork. Dr. Porter explains that breathing affects the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and that breathing can be challenging for people who are experiencing pain. He points to the work of Wim Hof and his work in creating super states of healing and vitality through breathwork, and that there are over 40 sessions within BrainTap that focus on breathwork.

“We did a study in Australia… where we showed in 6 weeks, with just using the app, we got a 70% improvement of sleep scores… if they used our headset, they got that same result in three weeks… it’s a little bit faster if you use the full light, sound and vibration system, but you can do it with just the app alone.”

Dr. Patrick Porter

BrainTap for Lyme disease

Dr. Porter also talks about the BrainTap series created specifically around Lyme disease. He is encouraged by doctors that support patients in finding solutions, and consider the importance of brain fitness to address the emotional component of their healing. He describes the biophotonic system in which genes are influenced by light that is broadcast throughout the body. Dr. Porter highlights the importance of reducing stress to down regulate epigenetic markers that prevent healing. In this way, our mindset can help create an environment that supports our body’s innate healing capacity.

Using the BrainTap app without the headset

Is BrainTap safe for people who experience seizures? Although there have been no reports of seizures while using Braintap, Dr. Porter recommends that people with light sensitivity or a history of seizures move the light visor and just use sound alone. He describes a recent study showing that the same results can be achieved through sound alone. This research showed that coal miners demonstrated a 70% improvement in sleep scores in 6 weeks using the app alone, and the same sleep score results in 3 weeks using the headset.

Harnessing the power of light

The BrainTap headset shines light into the ears as well as eyes. Dr. Porter explains that blood flows more slowly through the ears than the rest of the body. By changing the frequency every two minutes, the light communicates with the nervous system, turning off sympathetic overload and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Gamma wave research

Sarah inquires about the connection between astrocytes, gamma waves and brain health, citing research by Li-Huei Tsai which showed 50% improvement in the brain function of mice using gamma waves. Dr. Porter explains that the mice in Dr. Tsai’s study showed 6-8% improvement in gamma. In his own work with gamma waves, he found that one BrainTap session showed 21% improvement in gamma. In addition, something called a gamma burst occurs twice during changes in brain wave cycles, helping to regulate the brain. Dr. Porter explains that Dr. Tsai’s research showed that amyloid plaque was broken down in the brains of mice. He points out that gamma waves are also involved in creativity and are present when athletes are in “the zone.”

An alternative to opioids for pain control

We find out about the role of BrainTap in reducing pain. Dr. Porter describes recent research in Brazil comparing the use of BrainTap versus opioids for people experiencing pain. He explains that people process pain when they are in a high state of beta, and notes that BrainTap has been shown to upregulate 54 neurotransmitters and downregulate stress hormones. In all three studies, the BrainTap app was better than opioids in reducing pain, client compliance and function. Results also showed that 90% of the people can be pain free for 24 hours with one session per day using the app alone. 

Better health and better grades

Dr. Porter explains that there are forty three different ways that clinics are using BrainTap worldwide. Programs include sleep disorders, mind over menopause, childbirth program and sports performance. Dr. Porter also cites research showing that a college golf team had the highest GPA of any sports team in their school while using the Braintap technology.

BrainTap research 

Thank you Dr. Porter for highlighting some of the work you are doing to help people improve brain fitness and achieve better health through the use of this technology. We look forward to following your work and future BrainTap research!

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