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Home Workshop I've Changed My Mind ICMM 17 Advanced Applications Level 2 (TMS, NMS etc)
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Workshop - I've Changed My Mind
Written by Alex   
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 00:02

17. Advanced Applications Level 2 (TMS, NMS, and SFX)

Heavy messing

In this chapter we take a look at some more tools you can use to achieve results in n-hacking. They are in the 'advanced' section because (a) they work best when some progress has already been made, (b) it's good to have a working knowledge of the brain before indulging, (c) they can have unexpected effects which could alarm an inexperienced person, and (d) they're 'hard-core', or 'heavy messing'.

The reason I consider the following techniques to be 'hard-core' is that they can all be used for forms of wireheading. It is assumed that having got this far, you have enough sense to take your excesses in moderation. If you have a nasty terminal illness and you want to end your life wireheading I have no problem with that; otherwise, don't go there. I have seen it, and I have felt it, and it is an experience I spent two years trying to forget.

'Wireheading', strictly speaking, is the direct electrical cortical stimulation (DECS), of pleasure centers in the brain via microelectrodes. In practice, though, this is only one of a number of ways to achieve it.

An alternative way is to deliver chemicals to the brain in a very precise way, using microinjections. Steel (very thin!) needles are pushed through an opening in the skull, and tiny (but sufficient) quantities of a chemical can be delivered precisely. These can be attached to a syringe driver for continued or remote controlled delivery. This can be done on such a fine scale that individual neurons can be targeted (using a micropipette. This is called microiontophoresis.) Anesthetics can be administered via this method to inhibit certain specific brain areas. This is a marvelous tool for research, but inevitably it can also be abused. Whamming a load of acetylcholine into the dorsal right anterior septum by this method for example will give you a half-hour orgasm. Great for parties, but unfortunately most people going that far don't stop there. Nobody enjoys a good bit of hedonism more than I do, but becoming a wirehead junkie does not augment or enhance intelligence.

Activity can also be induced in axons by magnets, just like wires (such activity is electrical, after all). By using focused pulses of magnetism it is possible to cause electrical activity in a small area of the brain. This is TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.) NMS (Neuro Magnetic Stimulation) also uses magnetic signals, but in a different manner.

The fact that all of these techniques can be abused means you approach them with extreme caution. You know exactly what you are going to do with them and you don't deviate from that. Most of them cannot be employed alone or without a lot of money, but NMS (and TMS to some extent) can be made cheaply if you have the know-how and thus is available to anyone. It is these kinds of technology that could be either 'a shining beacon in space', or 'one ring to rule them all'. They can produce some rather interesting effects, some of which we'll discuss later. Let's get to know them first...


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) uses pulses of electromagnetic field that induce an electric field in the brain. It is a direct way of manipulating and interfering with the function of some networks.

Brain stimulation with TMS can be either excitatory or inhibitory, depending on the frequency of the field. Excitatory effects are normally sensory motor. In the inhibitory mode TMS can temporarily suppress perception and/or interfere with task performance. At first glance this may not seem very useful. However, people can exhibit remarkable newfound skills when hooked up to TMS in inhibitory mode, and with regular use these abilities remain after the temporarily 'silenced' bits come back online.

There's nothing new about TMS. It's been used in hospitals since 1985 both to test for results of brain surgery and for research, and is now being explored as a therapeutic tool in depression, schizophrenia, and stroke recovery, with very promising results.

TMS achieves its effects by sending short (about one thousandth of a second) pulses of magnetic field through a coil located above or beside the head. The pulses can be varied from between one per second to about 50 per second, and they are generated with a circuit containing a discharge capacitor connected with the coil in series by a thyristor. With the capacitor first charged, the gating of the thyristor into the conducting state will cause the discharging of the capacitor through the coil. The field is strongest near the coil and stimulates a cortical area of a few centimeters in diameter. The pulses cause coherent firing of neurons in the stimulated area, and alters neuronal action potential firing due to synaptic input. (The field affects the neurons' transmembrane voltage and thereby the voltage-sensitive ion channels.)

The effects of TMS are many and varied. Perhaps the most remarkable thing is, when we 'turn off' some of the higher brain functions using this method, extraordinary abilities emerge.R42 Often they are musical, mathematical, linguistic or artistic. It can increase our attention to detail and clarity of perception. One mistake people make about this is believing the abilities it enhances to be creative -they are not. TMS may enable you to sing a song perfectly after hearing it only once, but it will not assist you to write one. It is the ability to copy, which is enhanced. If you are creative already, though, the results can be stunning. Sensory motor tasks can also be learned faster by stimulating the motor cortex whilst they are practiced. Reaction time can be increased in many tasks, for example the recognition and naming of objects, by TMS-ing Wernicke's area with a quick blip just before each one.

The area of the cortex we 'turn off' for these purposes, is the left frontotemporal lobe. 20 minutes is a good session time, and practice of the skill required should be pursued throughout and after the event. After a week or so of one session per day you will notice some large changes in your ability. Once you have practiced enough, you will keep the skill for as long as you continue to regularly use it, just like any other. It feels very similar to learning how to raise or lower your blood pressure through biofeedback, as though something that is normally unconscious is being lifted into conscious awareness through practice.

Other (no less remarkable) effects of TMS and also of Neuro Magnetic Stimulation (NMS), which we'll talk about in a minute, are the evocation of temporal lobe emotion and related experiences, auditory, visual and mental.R43 We briefly touched upon this in the last chapter, and in this one we're going to take a closer look.

Both these bits of tech have potential in the treatment of depression and other aberrant mental conditions too, so they are well worth getting into. TMS provides a good test if someone is not sure whether they are suffering from depression or merely going through a mood phase. You can ascertain which it is by aiming the TMS at the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. If the subject has a sudden desire to cry or actually cries, they're not depressed. If they feel no urge to cry, or even cheer up a little, they probably have depression. To treat it, aim at the same area for 30 minutes at a time, daily, for two weeks. Then sit back and be pleasantly surprised. You will be. TMS even seems to be effective in depression cases that will not respond to drugs. The effect should last for about three months, so you should be able to achieve an ongoing control by doing this every quarter, although some people have only needed to use TMS twice a year to keep their depression at bay in a drug-free way.

TMS has its drawbacks however. If you buy one, it will set you back around $35,000 so it's best to build your own1. On top of that, it's hot, (as in, temperature, not as in, stolen) and can actually burn the scalp if the proper precautions are not taken. It can cause muscular cramps in the head and neck. And the real problem is, it's loud. Imagine a deathwatch beetle at around 100 dB +; that's what I mean by loud. Your neighbors will not be impressed; in fact you are likely to get complaints from as far as three streets away. So unless you're a genius at noise cancellation you need an isolated location, helicopter pilots' earplugs and then some. Finally, don't even think about using TMS if there's any metal or tech on or in you (remove jewelry and check pockets). The magnetic field attracts ferromagnetic objects and repels nonmagnetic conductors (it will disturb the function of electronic devices). This also matters for the experimenter as well as the subject. If you have ever seen anyone stuck to a TMS coil by their trouser zip, you will appreciate the fact that this caution is not to be ignored. TMS is a very powerful tool for learning, but it is wise to remember that it is a very powerful tool.

There is a protocol for TMS use designed by and for users, which you will encounter if you get involved in online groups using it. The government hasn't got its act together to design safety protocols yet, so guys wrote their own. It is important to conform to these if we expect any approval from bodies such as the FDA & BMA, and in this sense also you are asked to be responsible. Do not even think of using this technology if you have ever had seizures. I don't think anyone's stupid enough to do that... are they?


NMS uses magnetic signals applied from outside the head in a manner similar to TMS. There are differences however. The signals used are taken from brainwave frequencies and used to induce action potentials in the same structures that produced them in the first place. The technique works best in silence and darkness, and sessions can last up to an hour, so it's important to have a quiet space. Permanent changes can be achieved in anything from three weeks to a month and a half, depending on type and length of session and frequency of use.

This might sound a lot, but the results are in my opinion worth it. There are no apparent side effects, which is great, although NMS can be a difficult horse to ride at first it is worth persevering. It's also beautifully cheap to construct your own, or if you don't have the required skills, it's pretty cheap to buy (around $200 at the time of writing)2 And it's not noisy.

Using biofeedback, EEG signals can be recorded and reused as sound/light input, but NMS uses audio, digital to analog conversion and fourier transform to turn the input into magnetic signals. The magnetic signals are low (milligauss) intensity asymmetric, anisotropic, wave forms.

These stimulate action potentials in the required parts, normally mid brain networks centered on the hippocampus and amygdala, by centering the coils over the temporal and parietal lobes. NMS is rather more tailored to the individual than most 'mind machines' because you can alter the input depending on how your own brain is wired.

It can also be applied for specific problems, the most notable being its ability to silence 'inner chatter'. It can also reduce or enhance the intensity of emotions overall, improve memory recall and quell anxiety.

Well, that about wraps it up for god...

The most important thing about NMS is its ability to reduce anxiety and increase the rate of LTP, and for this it is an indispensable tool.... But perhaps the most amazing thing about NMS and TMS is not only their ability to directly induce emotion, prompting us to laugh or cry, but their ability to induce temporal lobe emotion/experience.

Your ability to actually have 'temporal lobe experiences' depends on your neurochemistry. High dopamine helps. About 50% of the population have them at some point in their lives.

Temporal lobe experiences include cognitive types (Deja and Jamais vu), the feeling of 'a sensed presence', somatic (such as vestibular experiences and parasthesias), and emotional ('blissful' or 'visionary' experiences, which are commonly referred to as 'spiritual', largely because until recently it was believed that they were caused by god.) These have some factors in common in all persons, one of these being an accompanying sense of 'oneness' with the universe; a sense of infinite and eternal 'self-in-spacetime' that is in fact a prelude to the experience of synergy. Another is the emotion of awe and sense of deep meaning, which is accompanied by temporal lobe activity. During such experiences, the brain is very active in the attention networks and temporal lobes but virtually shuts down parts of the parietal lobe. For some, sensory deprivation can help trigger such experiences, for others, specific kinds (and always the same kinds) of input are the triggers; music, light, stylized movements and certain shapes (all the components of religious ritual). When temporal lobe experiences happen, we shut down certain areas of the brain and enhance the activity of others. Emotional weighting increases manyfold, and we experience hyperreality. Temporal lobe experiences usually encompass a complete stress/relaxation cycle, bringing first desire and then fulfillment. Both are very intense. They can produce much more believable hallucinations and illusions than LSD.

Most neural processes are dominated by one hemisphere of the brain. When a left-hemispheric process is occurring, it uses networks from the right-hemisphere also, in a process known as intercalation. This process uses the CC and other commissures to a greater degree than other networks. Consequently, when a mid brain structure on one side of the brain is stimulated, the resulting action potentials will cause firing in the contralateral area via these commisures, and when a certain level of stimulation is reached the subject experiences 'peak' experiences; outside the range of common states of consciousness. This can produce euphoria and a number of 'special effects', including 'out of body' experiences, enhanced visual acuity, synaesthesia, audio & visual 'externalization' effects (seeing 'ghosts', hearing voices). Some people have experienced what they describe as 'astral travel' with it, others profound and immediate access to states of awe, wonder and creative insight. Some, including me, have called it the 'orgasm of the mind' (we release endorphins in temporal lobe activity, just as we do in love and in sexual orgasm.)

The type of temporal lobe experience you personally have depends on your personality. This is because the experience depends not only on what you perceive but also on how you interpret it. That's another reason why these techniques are in the 'advanced' section; if they are used by persons still brainwashed by society they could be misused...as when a person is subjected to an experience of 'god' and then told by some religious leader to go and bring death to the unbelievers. The stark contrast between reality and hyperreality can be so great as to convince many that gods must be responsible.

LTP enhancement

Altering synaptic transmission in the temporal lobes changes the way the networks process external and internal stimuli. Inducing LTP in the auditory thalamus, for example, will enhance our perception of sound. NMS can enhance LTP in the hippocampus, leading to advanced pictorial memory skills. Obviously this is a boon for faster learning, but the hippocampus is also the region responsible for turning short-term memories into longer ones. And something most people don't know about NMS is, if you practice a new skill a couple of hours before sleeping, and then get somebody to give you a session whilst you're sleeping, the effect on LTP ability is quite profound.

This has to be timed, i.e., the NMS session must occur during REM and deeper sleep. This can be ascertained by wiring yourself to EEG, or getting your assistant to patiently watch your eyelids, or writing a little program to automatically initialize the NMS session when the EEG detects REM (this is probably the most ethical method, nobody else being involved). You have to be able to sleep in an NMS hat, but it's quite comfortable and dark in there so it doesn't take too much getting used to.

Bear in mind the ability to enhance pictorial (eidetic) memory, because that's the bridge which ties all this together.

At the time of writing, popular neuroscience, assuming all input remains parallel, is not in agreement (or even familiar with) matrix theory interpretation of sensory input, emotion and imagination. However, I have found no evidence against, and plenty for, the following:

. Our language centers are usually in the left hemisphere, and the left frontotemporal cortex is a 'conceptualization' area. When this area is 'switched off', as you will recall in TMS, a healthy person feels an urge to cry. If we are depressed, it will actually feel better to have this part switched off for a while, because it is a link between input and imagination. If input is all inner thoughts of gloom, imagination can make life quite unpleasant. Cut off from the inner 'editing suite', we see reality raw, much as we saw it as a young child. Our ability to copy it is enhanced but we are unable to apply creative imagination to input and so cannot draw or write or make, anything new. If we made this kind of change permanently we would be left with a mind that could mimic a thing perfectly but never do anything original... With a mind like a very good tribute band.

TMS treatment for depression does not result in this outcome because what is actually going on, is the person begins learning to control these parts of their brain by being given an example of the contrast between them being overactive, and totally inactive. We learn how to turn the 'inner noise' down by being given an example of silence.


A second link between input and imagination is the parietal cortex. Sensory inputs are not processed in isolation. Most of us are well aware of how the senses overlap in daily life; it's hard not to let smell affect taste, for example. If cross-linking did not occur in memory, we wouldn't be able to hear someone's voice and remember what they looked like. We wouldn't be able to feel at something and imagine what it looks like (and if you hit the visual cortex with TMS in inhibitory mode, you can't.) This says something fundamental about internal input. It says that a part of the visual cortex is relating current input to memory, and that when this part is turned off, we cannot associate the tactile sensation with the imagined memory of an object. We can be feeling at a jug, and have a perfectly good memory of a jug, but we cannot put the two together.

This tells me that the visual cortex is doing more than 'seeing' by responding solely to signals from retinal input.

Some neurons respond to many senses, not merely one. These are called, sensibly enough, 'multisensory' neurons. Sensory neurons are also subject to plasticity; if a sense is lost (for example, in blindness) the network normally used for vision will be rewired for other uses (blind people use the visual cortex in a transfer to tactile sensing, amongst other things. If you use TMS to turn the visual cortex off, they can't read Braille).R45

Association areas for sensory input are capable of 'synaesthesia' (a large swap-over of interpretation, for example the ability to 'see' sound). We can achieve this effect by induced intercalation without losing a sense; that is to say, we can enhance the crossover between senses. These changes are temporary and reversible.

Some people experience this to some degree with LSD and similar hallucinogens. MDMA, Cannabinoids and even Selegiline now have a reputation for increasing the ability to 'understand the lyrics in music'. (Selegiline inhibits MAO-B and increases phenylethylamines, which can induce increased neural firing in the striatum.) These kinds of experiences can be achieved with NMS and are usually a side effect of increased temporal lobe activity.

The parietal cortex takes our parallel sensory inputs and associates them into a single stream, added to by the mid brain's networks' weighting for emotion and imagination via eidetic (pictorial) memory referenced against archetypes. Association enables us to form concepts. (If our inner input were not mixed with the other five channels, we would respond in exactly the same way to everyone, loved one or stranger.)

The important point about this process is that all input then affects all other, for example what you see will be partially dependent on what you hear, and all input will be dependent on how you feel. The parietal network is focused on association, and it can't compute contradiction. That's what makes it so funny when a lion opens its mouth to roar and we hear a kitten meow. It's what makes it so bizarre when two loud noises make us perceive two bright flashes when in fact there was only one.

The pattern of action potentials in the brain at this point merges sensory and inner information into a percept. 'Concept' includes our computing an appropriate response to a thing or event, and we do this by accessing archetypes, adding a probability weighting, and (except in an emergency) passing the resulting computation on to intellect and motor departments for action and consideration. All this happens in a fraction of a second.

No group of cells holds a certain memory, as we used to believe, and those searching for the 'database' of stored memories will search in vain. Each tiny neuron and mini network is merely a possibility/probability fired by electrochemical connections in patterns preset by experience. We superimpose these patterns onto the here and now and update/upgrade them in the light of connective changes. Memory is aligned to archetypes; if you proceed with the same events, i.e., press the same keys on the keyboard, the same message comes up. It is not that the keyboard itself or any of the keys has a memory of what you write from the last time you wrote it. The individual keys have only a letter each in memory; it is you, acting as the keyboard's parietal cortex, associating certain keys together in patterns that enables it to type the same thing today as it did yesterday. And the individual neurons inside your brain are just like those keys. We set up those keys like function keys by experience, by deciding what it will mean at the moment if this or that network fires.

Every time we recall a memory it's typed out on neurons. Whenever we come across a few unrecognized characters, we spend the night programming in new keys for these unknown bits. We continue to work on it, long after the machine has finished its output for the day and gone on standby (to sleep). Cross-referencing in dreams with archetypes, imagination, and past similar typed patterns, we figure out more about what they mean. But we only have a set number of archetype templates (keys), and the number of ways in which they can be combined, is finite.

It is limited by imagination...

If you sit and think about this you will realize a great deal about the directions n-hacking can take from here, with the sort of technology under discussion. Meanwhile, here are a couple to get you going:

Temporal lobe experiences

Method 1: Set up a sensory-deprivation situation and use NMS. (If you build earmuffs and a padded visor into your NMS helmet you're halfway there already). Nighttime is the best time for ambient quiet and dark. Give yourself one session for one hour, and don't do it again for 3 weeks to a month.

Method 2: Using TMS with a magnetic field of 1 microtesla, move the coil from the back of the left temporal lobe to the front, across it's lower edge, then down to the ventral edge and along the top edge back to where you started. Repeat with the right temporal lobe, moving clockwise in a similar manner, and keep repeating the cycle until effects are noticed (but not for more than 20 minutes.)

Mood improvement upgrade

As above, but use your NMS for half an hour, and repeat once a week for 6 weeks.

1. There isn't room in this book to go into the details of TMS design and construction, but if anyone would like to build their own, the plans are free from the Entelechy Institute (www.entelechy.info).

2. More information from www.innerworlds.50megs.com (who do a couple of nice units and have loads of helpful info) or the Entelechy Institute (www.entelechy.info)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 August 2009 00:04