How the pRoshi Works

by Michael Gismondi 

I will attempt to explain the general workings of the pRoshi, as God and Chuck may be my witness. I hope that such a description will encourage interest in the pRoshi, a very powerful and general purpose tool. There is evidence that the pRoshi has a strong impact on there-normalization of EEG power relations, as well as undesirable coherence relationships.

As I understand it from a discussion with Chuck, a big part of the inspiration behind the development of the pRoshi was Tom Budzynski’s “Brain Brightener” project, which began in the early 1990s, if I am not mistaken. It is not an accident that the original name of the pRoshi was the “brain brightener magnetic stimulation and in fact, that name appears on the pRoshi case itself to this day. As Tom described in my interview with him in the Spring, 2005 issue of the ISNR (International Society for Neurofeedback and Research) Newsletter, the fundamental premise that drove the brain brightener project was that regardless of the type of stimulation and/or feedback you offer the brain, brains habituate, sooner or later.

Stated more positively, when you present novel stimulation to the brain, several things happen; brain blood flow and metabolism rates increase, as does the production of low beta waves. The reason why this was of interest to Tom was he was seeking a way to help the brains of both the elderly and “aging boomers” to resist degradation of cognitive function due to “normal aging”. Normal aging effects on the brain were thought to involve a gradual constriction of brain blood flow and a diminution of metabolism, along with a tendency of the brain to habituate to novelty faster, with serious consequences to cognitive performance. After all, if there is no maintenance of optimal arousal via low beta waves, the brain’s ability to encode new information or properly retrieve and apply old information suffers. As an aside, this last problem is not unrelated to the problems faced by ADD/ADHD and many LD brains, but that is another thread.

Budzynski’s solution to the problem as stated above was to present the brain with novel stimuli in the form of light stimulation from a programmable sound and light machine. To keep the stimuli “novel”, he would(1) have the frequencies that the light stim visited change every few seconds (2) utilize informal random number look-up tables to select the next frequency visited. Since Tom wanted to encourage alertness and cognitive performance, he chose to focus on the EEG spectrum range most commonly associated at the time with cognitive function, approximately 12-20 hz, as I recall.

Chuck had the good sense to pick up on this powerful idea and implementation, but Chuck is the consummate “tweeker” and sought to improve on the design. One improvement was to extend the range of frequencies visited to 1-40 hz. Also, Chuck opted not to use Tom’s pseudo random number tables. The other specific improvements are held as proprietary at this time.

I had the good fortune of using the second pRoshi ever made at Victoria Ibric’s clinic in July 2003. I could tell many of my own stories of the impact of the pRoshi, I could talk about Bill Hudspeth’s astonishment when he saw the nearly instantaneous impact of the Roshi on the coherence/connectivity patterns he had just observed on an acquaintance of mine via his QEEG software. The stories and the data collected is a thread in itself. There are already many immortalized on the pRoshi list, but yes, controlled research is needed, and some is on the way as we speak.

As for the question of why this approach works as well as it does, there are a number of ways of thinking about this;

(1) The light stimulation is presenting novel stimulation to the brain for a long enough period of time that the brain in self-regulation/self-organization mode eliminates many of the functional disconnects and over-connections, as Hudspeth, Ibric and more recently Rob Coben have been finding.

(2) By constantly forcing the brain to visit frequencies it rarely visits, normal connectivies are affected as the brain’s overcontrolled “ruts” are superseded.