Final Weblog

Final Weblog
  1. Proposal

Abstract: My proposal is this; to use myself as a test subject to determine whether or not biofeedback can be used to impact some symptoms of depression (and possibly anxiety).

Title: Biofeedback and Depression

Background: I studied a bit of depression last year in my psychology class, and have personally struggled with a bit of depression myself. I don’t really have any background in the area of the study of brainwaves though.

Purpose: During the first semester I’ll be using the online depression cognitive test along with the data that I’ve written down in a spreadsheet to compare and contrast the results of the test with the data of my spreadsheet. The second semester will be using the biofeedback to try and see if we can change those slower brainwaves simply by outside stimulation.

What I will measure: The first semester I will measure the results of the test and of my spreadsheet for the levels of depression. The second semester I will measure the brainwaves and how much I could change them using the outside influences.

How I will measure it: Possibly day by day with the test and spreadsheet for the first semester. Second semester with a headset and whatever program is needed to measure the brainwaves.

Tools/resources needed: The online test for the first semester, and the internet for extra research. I’ll also be using the help and knowledge of Dr. Bill and Ms. Sebastian. For the second semester we’ll use the headset to measure the brainwaves.

Impact: I’m really only hoping for a personal impact, and if it’s a successful project, then maybe it could help other people as well.

Legacy: Hopefully this could be a helpful solution for people with depression, and maybe another student could take this project further or modify it for their own needs or personal interests.

2. Throughout this project I collaborated with many people. One of the people who had the biggest impact on me was Dr. Bill. He really guided me and helped me through the entire process. He would give me ideas when I ran out of inspiration, and he would pretty much help me to stay motivated throughout the entire year. Another person that I collaborated this year was Viet Tung Dao. He helped me out with the headset and how to use emotiv. Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to do the actual biofeedback that was necessary for this project. Yet another person, Johnny Yoon. I collaborated with him for parts of the year, mostly for cognifit things and a little towards the end of the year to possibly start a new project. Speaking of cognifit, I also collaborated with a representative from CogniFit named Tommy. These different collaborations have taught me the importance of cooperating with other people in order to achieve your goals. These collabs also helped my project to grow and stem out from what it was originally meant to be. They impacted my project in a big way because without them, I probably wouldn’t have gotten very far.

3. The legacy that my project leaves for others is not only a helpful solution for symptoms of depression, but also a different way to look at these types of projects. I hope that my work throughout the year can show others the importance of the process rather than the result.

4. For someone who might be doing my project next year, they will have a lot of work ahead of them. They’ll most likely have to pick up at learning how to interpret the different brainwaves and how to read an EEG. They’ll also need to continue research on how the different cognitive abilities correlate with depression, and how to interpret that through the cognifit tests. They’ll need the emotiv headset, the app on their computer, the cognifit licenses (there’s actually still a few left over), access to the pacific app, many different collabs with many people, and the grit to stick out a mainly solo project throughout an entire year.

5. If I were to describe my year in ISR to a stranger, I’d say that it was an all around great experience. Again, I learned the importance of process over result. I also learned how to collaborate with others, and how to spend weeks and months just doing hardcore research. I’d tell them that some of my greatest challenges were just being able to stay motivated throughout the year as well as the occasional public speaking that I’d have to do. These were easily overcome with the help of my peers and teacher, Dr. Bill. I’d let them know that I’m the most proud of my growth as a person throughout the year, and how this project helped in that process. It showed me how to slow down, take a look at myself, and evaluate what I needed to do to help myself. The only thing that I would’ve done differently is that I would’ve started sooner.



This week was spent finalizing my presentation as well as practicing it like a thousand times. I also presented on Wednesday. I think it went pretty well, and Ms. Petteys seemed to be pleased. I'm just so glad to be done with it, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders now. Hopefully for the rest of my classes we can just chill out. I did get an email that concerned me though, it had something to do with another presentation. I wasn't at last class because I was taking an AP, so I'm not sure what it's for. It is a little concerning though, because I don't want to have to present again. Here's what I'm talking about:

Anyways, I'm looking forward to ending the year soon. I guess we'll just have to see what we do in next weeks' classes.



Today I had an AP exam so I wasn't in class.



Today was the day. I think that the presentation actually went pretty well. I mean, I did rehearse it at least 50 times. I also found it much easier to present to just one person as opposed to multiple people. Ms. Petteys even commented on how much more confidently I spoke compared to the beginning of the year. I think it may have something to do with a) how comfortable with the material I was, b) the fact that I was speaking to only one person, and c) how many presentations I had already done over the course of this year. I also have to give a lot of recognition to Dr. Bill for introducing me to the whole start with "why" thing because it was really the whole basis for my presentation. It helped me to organize my presentation and it also inspired me. I also loved how much feedback Ms. Petteys gave me, it was all very constructive and helpful in further understanding my process and what I've gained from this experience. Maybe in the future I can move forward with this study, or someone can continue it for me.



Today I spent the whole class polishing up my presentation and organizing it so that I could present it confidently. I finished adding all of my pictures, and even went back into really old weblogs in order to get those pictures (the importance of the weblogs!). Now all I have to do is rehearse rehearse rehearse and maybe I can get over my public speaking fear in one night? Who knows. Here's a look at my presentation:



This past week was spent worrying about the project and trying to put together a decent presentation. I think that senioritis is getting the best of me right now, but I hope that I can eventually pull it together. It will be pretty easy since I spent so long on the project and everything. This weekend is pretty busy for me so I'm not sure how much I can get done during it but I'm sure that I'll put my class time to good use on Monday. I know that this is a bit short, but I didn't so much else. I also managed to share ideas etc. with other people, which is always helpful when it comes to these sort of things. This is all I have so far for the presentation:



Today I just went through my old photos and weblogs to see what I could do in terms of a timeline for my project. I think I'm pretty much just going to have pictures and just talk about my project. It'll have some structure, but its at the time of the year when I think that I know enough about my project to talk about it for a while and I just can't be bothered to spend too much time on it. Especially since my first AP class assigned a project after the AP so I have to worry about another AP, that project, and this project all in the next week. It's a little stressful to say the least, and I've almost completely run out of steam by now. I'll be doing most of the work for the presentation over my already busy weekend, and just hope for the best on Wednesday.



Today all I did was work on getting pictures together for my presentation. We split up into groups and talked to one another about what we were going to present and how. I found it to be pretty helpful. I just wish that the deadline wasn't so soon and close to my second AP. I'll more than likely be relying on my own knowledge of the project to present than anything else. I was also thinking that I could probably get a little clip of a biofeedback session of mine. This would require going into my other computer, but I think I can manage. So all I have for now is a few scattered ideas and a half finished slideshow of photos, but I think it will be ok.



I was absent this day because of an AP exam.



This week we did a lot of writing which was pretty fun because I love to write. It was also really relaxing and a nice break from researching and stressing out about the presentation. I was wondering if we could do a video instead of an oral presentation because of my fear of public speaking, but it's most likely a "no". That's okay though. I have one AP on Monday, and after that I'll be a little less stressed since I'll only have one more AP after that. I'm not quite sure when the due date is, so I'll check with Dr. Bill on Monday. Here's another piece from Thursday:

I have one very specific memory of my time in ISR. It was towards the end of the year and the beginning of the time that we had to start thinking about presenting our project to a group of faculty. This whole year had sort of been a struggle for me in ISR. From the beginning of the school year when I didn’t even have a proposal done two weeks into the class, to the middle of the year when all I could do for days on end was research, and finally at the end of the year when I felt like I had nothing to show for. I was struggling for ideas on how to create my presentation on what I thought was a whole lotta nothing, so I went to Dr. Bill. He told me something that I desperately needed to hear. He told me that it wasn’t about whether or not I succeeded, but about the fact that I had taken something and made it unique and personal to myself. This then gave me a whole new outlook on my entire project. I could look back at pages of empty research and studies and actually see “results”.

I'll work on refining these little paragraphs and hopefully on Monday I can get even more work done.



Today we had a writing workshop with Mr. Schorn. I had a great time, mainly because I love to write, but also because it really helped further my process of creating this presentation. I also love timed writing, mainly because of the pressure that's put on me to produce something in a time limit. It's a good skill to practice. This whole process has just made me realize more and more that the work that I've been doing in this class isn't as fruitless as I had originally thought. Here's a sample of something that I produced today:

Going into this project, I was met with many obstacles. One of which, being my own technical inabilities. I had never before in my life seen or used a headset that measured brainwaves. It looked like a crude device of torture. I knew better than to try and attack this on my own, so I decided to go to an expert on the subject: Tung. He explained to me in laymen terms how to use and take care of the headset. It was like a godsend. Now I didn’t have to spend a whole nother week or two researching how in the hell I was supposed to use that thing.

This short piece was describing a time of cooporation between me and another student in the class. I look forward to making more progress on this presentation.



Today we watched that TED talk by Simon Sinek and it was very inspirational. Then we talked with Dr. Bill again and both his and Sinek's words helped me to figure out how to organize my presentation. So far I have the "Why" which I'll most likely be editing off and on for a while since it's arguably the most important part of the project.

Why: I wanted to do this project because it was personal and unique to me. I didn’t do it so I could impress you guys with it, I did it for myself. This project stemmed from an interest in myself as well as psychology. I think it’s safe to say that my interest in psychology stemmed from an interest in myself. For some time I had been struggling with depression, and one thing about depression is that it’s a very self centered mood disorder. Something that I found that always helped me with it was to focus my attention on someone or something else. This eventually sparked my interest in other people’s minds, thus leading to my interest in psychology. So, the reason why I’m doing this project is for myself. I initially wanted to see if I could use biofeedback to interpret and impact the symptoms of depression. This project has sort of morphed into something else, but that’s how it started.

The next two parts that I should work on are the "How" and "What". Then I think I'll have a much easier time creating the presentation.



Today we all sat down with Dr. Bill and discussed with one another what we'd be doing for our presentation. This was really helpful because it gave me ideas on what to put in my presentation as well as how to present it. It was also great how we asked each other questions as if we were the teachers evaluating the projects. We were also given TED talks to go watch as homework, which doesn't really seem like homework to me. Here are some of the ideas that I was given and that I thought of while others were getting asked questions:
  • WHY? - curious about personal experiment

  • Didn’t start in class - inspired by caylin

  • Enlightened self interest - cognifit win win sitch

  • More research than collab - but bring up johnny

  • Counseling collab

  • How psych helped me

  • Self teaching

  • Talk about how this whole project helped me to learn how to not underestimate myself (mainly due to Dr. Bill.)

1 comment


This week I worked on my presentation. I've been pretty worried about it, considering the fact that it's due around the time that I'm taking my APs. This means that while studying for my APs I'm also going to have to be working on this. The main issue that I'll be facing is trying to organize all of the information into the presentation. Because trust me, there is so much information for me to get through. Still no word from Johnny, but like I said in my most recent weblog, I'll leave that up to Dr. Bill. I have so many good ideas for the presentation, I just think that this time crunch is going to put me under some stress and pressure. I'll definitely be trying to put my in class time to good use next week.



Today I worked on the presentation even more. I also had to go back and look over old research and weblogs so that I could get different facts etc. correct. It's a pretty slow process, especially since I've been so tired lately - not sure why. At least I started semi early, but the task is still giving me stress. I feel like the deadline is so close, and not only that but it's also around the same time as my AP's. It would've been nice to have it due after all of the AP's are done, but I think I'll manage. Back to the project though. I have yet to hear anything back from Johnny, but I'm pretty sure that Dr. Bill is going to speak with him soon. I have no idea where that project is going, but I'm confident in the amount of content that I have for my first project. The only thing that I'm struggling with now is getting all of that information organized onto a presentation. This is what I'm planning on doing for pretty much the rest of my time in the elab, unless something else comes up.



Today we talked about our presentations. Dr. Bill went over ideas for me - as well as everyone else - which really helped to 1) inspire me and 2) give me a good idea of what needs to be done. He said to talk about how unique and personal my project is, whether it failed or not. This was helpful because I've felt like I fell kind of short of my own goals and expectations in terms of the brainwaves and being able to interpret them. However, I was successful in being able to notice changes in my mood etc. and then using cognifit and biofeedback to confirm my suspicions. If anything, I think it was more of a success with cognifit than with biofeedback. I may even have to change the name of my project. I also gained a lot of knowledge on the different cognitive aspects of depression, which gave me insight to myself as well as others. So in some ways my project was a success, and as opposed to seeing some aspects as failures I can look at them as lessons learned. I'm getting a bit worried about the whole presentation thing, so I think that I may stop my research on planning for now and start putting the presentation together. I know I'm doing the weblog early, but I'll just be putting the presentation together for the rest of the class.



Today I wrote about the third cognifit session, noting the lower scores and any other interesting information that I found. I also decided to look at the correlation between planning and depression because Dr. Bill noted that it was odd to see planning as a lower score - unlike short-term memory which was expected to be low - since it's controlled by the left frontal lobe. I'll put what I wrote - for the beginning paragraph - in my notes here:

Session 3: Overall 2% decrease in score. My lowest scores were in Planning, Short term memory, non-verbal memory, and visual short term memory. As Dr. Bill noted, the low score in planning is interesting because of it’s involvement in the frontal lobe (left). Unsurprisingly, these areas were the ones that I scored the lowest on last time as well. Also, it seemed that overall, these areas were ones that we (the participants) all struggled with. This leads me to think that maybe those lower scores aren’t just due to depression, because one factor of depression is prolonged stress, which I’m sure most high school students experience.

I also did a little bit of digging and found my first presentation. I'll have to look at it as I create my new one. I also found a template for my new one. It'll be a slow-ish process because of upcoming AP's, so I'll have to start on the presentation early.



This week I spent my time on both projects. I've been trying to communicate with Johnny on starting this project up, but we do have a long ways to go. We have yet to figure out how we'd even conduct the project since we can't give out the headsets and we don't want to take time away from other people's days. Maybe we could do it during the weekend? But that would require one of us to take the headsets with us for the weekend, and I'm not sure if that's allowed. So that's out major block as of right now. I did spend some time on research for the new project this past week, but there's still so much more to learn about this area of interest. Another thing that I did this past week was complete another cognifit test. I had been feeling a bit down and slow as of late, and I wanted to see if there was any evidence of that in the form of a cognifit test. Unsurprisingly to me, there was a decrease in my score from the last time I took the test. I also managed to look at pacifica to further confirm the fact that when my mood is low and I'm in a generally worse head space than usual, then my cognifit score lowers. This could mean many things, and I'll do further analysis into which areas in particular went down the most - in terms of scores - and I'll see what the correlation is between those and depression. I think that this next week I should also start focusing on starting my presentation, but all of this will be hard, especially with my AP exams fast approaching.



Today I did another cognifit test. Unsurprisingly - to me - my score went down. It was still higher than the first time that I took it, but it was definitely lower than the last time. Last time I scored a 472 and this time I scored a 465 - a 2% decline in progress. My first time I scored a 448. All of my scores have been above average, but there has been a dip. This wasn't surprising to me, I actually thought that it might go down (I said so in my last weblog I believe). I can feel that I'm groggy and just slow in general. I checked pacifica and the last time I took the test I was in an overall better mood compared to today. Something to keep in mind though, I did the test on a different computer, and the screen was a bit smaller. As you can see in this picture, the screen in which I had to take the test was pretty small even though it was in "full screen". Last time I took the test, it actually took up the whole screen. So maybe that's something that could've affected the test. As for the other project, we've seemed to hit a bit of a wall since we have no idea how to conduct the tests since everyone has their own classes etc to attend. We can't give out the headsets so we'll have to brainstorm and come up with a solution. Other than that, I think that today was successful because I was able to confirm some of my suspicions of decreasing mood with this cognifit test.



Today I just did more research. I spent a good amount of time on the site that I had mentioned last time, making sure to milk it for all of it's relevant information. It was hard to do, I've been feeling very tired and sluggish lately and I had to take many breaks during class to be able to get through it. I've also been having back issues which makes me need to stand up every now and again during my classes. I'm certain all of this will go away soon because my sport has come to an end which will give me much more time to rest. There's also the possibility that some symptoms of depression are returning, so I think it may be a good idea to do another biofeedback session just to be certain. I also think that I should do another cognifit test. I'll most likely end up doing that next class. I'm curious to see if my performance will go down, because I think it may. Another thing that I did today was email Johnny to see where he was at in the project. Something that I should look at: a different name for the project. Maybe I'm using the wrong name for it, which is why research sites for it are so scarce. Here's a picture of some of the research that I did today.