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Brain Fog vs. Cognitive Clarity in Dreams

Discussion in 'Cognition' started by AFCFS, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. AFCFS

    AFCFS Senior Member

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    I have brain fog that affects cognition and cognitive clarity. Sometimes it is difficult to put 2 and 2 together, problem solving is a problem, perception seems to have a sticky veneer of haze attached to it, reading and comprehension are greatly diminished from previous norms, abstraction seems thwarted, there is a general dullness to the world, memory is poor, and thought seems blurred or blunted.

    But sometimes I have dreams that are crisp and clear as a spring morning. They seem like the antitheses of all mentioned above. Things seem normal, not exuberant, or excessively vivid, just kind of how I remember the noggin working before the brain fog. Perhaps, in analogy, as if spraying Febreze in a musty room. It seems that there is some interesting neurochemistry or neuronal activation going on there, and it seems that if it is going on in my sleep that it should be able to be replicated during waking states.

    Wonder if anyone else has experienced this and may have an explanation for it.
     
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  2. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem Senescent on the Illinois prairie, USA

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    This is more a guess than an explanation. Maybe your brain is getting more energy resources during the night when the rest of your body is less active.
     
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  3. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    Maybe you have low blood volume and hence your thinking and brain is better when laying down then when upright.
     
  4. AFCFS

    AFCFS Senior Member

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    Thanks for the above posts^. taniaaust1 - this would make sense, but I am laying down about 95% of the day. Still, the idea is intriguing. Little Bluestem - this made sense and somehow kicked off some associations that lead me to search on that. I did find:

    The Brain During Sleep notes in the section The brain during a dream:

    The brain during REM sleep. REM begins when the GTF (gigantocellular tegmental field) neurons in the pons (bridge) of the brain stem are stimulated. These GTF nerve cells excite the lower brain (the seat of emotions) and the cortex (where sensory data -- including visual data -- is processed). During REM, the brain emits neurotransmitter chemicals: large amounts of acetylcholine (which stimulates the cortex), and small amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine. At the end of the REM period, dreaming ceases when the locus coeruleus (another cluster of cells in the brain stem) emits another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, to deactivate the GFT cells. In an experiment with a cat, the EEG readings which correspond to REM sleep were induced by a drug which is similar to the acetylcholine; those readings returned to a non-REM status when the cat was given a dose of norepinephrine.

    AND

    Cognitive neuroscience of sleep states:

    Thus, REM sleep provides a novel neural environment in which the synaptic remodelling essential to learning and cognition can occur, at least within the hippocampal complex. During non-REM sleep Stage 2 spindles, the cessation and subsequent strong bursting of noradrenergic cells and coincident reactivation of hippocampal and cortical targets would also increase synaptic plasticity, allowing targeted bidirectional plasticity in the neocortex as well. In delta non-REM sleep, orderly neuronal reactivation events in phase with slow wave delta activity, together with high protein synthesis levels, would facilitate the events that convert early LTP to long-lasting LTP. Conversely, delta sleep does not activate immediate early genes associated with de novo LTP. This non-REM sleep-unique genetic environment combined with low acetylcholine levels may serve to reduce the strength of cortical circuits that activate in the ~50% of delta-coincident reactivation events that do not appear in their waking firing sequence.

    So, I got “acetylcholine” out of that. And then as a reminder that the neurotransmitters do not work in a vacuum, looked at the Depression Cure site. I would really prefer not to use a site that talks in terms of “Happy brain” and “Un-happy brain,” but, realistically, that is probably at about the level of my understanding.

    Will pass this on to my pdoc and hope that he can process beyond “Happy brain” and “Un-happy brain.” Here is an interesting video on Acetylcholine. It does not have a lot of context to it, but the animation is well done.

     
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  5. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    I went though a similarly unpleasant period AFCFS - dreams very vivid indeed at the time (and quite scary). This was in fact reported at The Royal Free outbreak UK years ago. I don't think it was understood then so good you are researching. It did seem to be eased by upping my Gabapentin dosage to epilepsy levels and virtually sleeping over 2 to 3 weeks, though I can't say for sure. The return of sound sleep did help enormously.

    (day fogs have eased, more importantly memory, vocabulary etc restored so it is gradually reversible).
     
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  6. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem Senescent on the Illinois prairie, USA

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    Interesting information, to the point that I could understand it. Let us know what your pdoc makes of it.

    I think that I get enough, if not too much, REM sleep. What I need is more deep (stage 3 and/or stage 4) sleep. Is delta non-REM sleep the same a deep sleep? Do you know what LTP is?
     
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  7. xks201

    xks201 Senior Member

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    Brain waves.... Fibro and Cfs patients experience alpha wave stimulation about three times as much as controls during sleep. Alpha waves are stimulating And should dominate during the day, not the night. Then Cfs people have increased deltA waves during the day which are sleep waves. You can make someone this way by institutionalizing them as a child according to one study. So stress can influence the development of this condition.

    In my mind it is an adaptive mechanism. Excitotoxicity kills dopamine neurons, which with digestive enzymes are two things which decline with age. A hyper stressed state will normally produce an alpha wave response... But when prolonged may turn to an indefinite delta sleep wave response. I am not trying to oversimplify this but clearly fatigue is a defense me mechanism. In the absence of other problems like hormone deficiencies Cfs depends on improper sleep.
     
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  8. justy

    justy Senior Member

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    Interesting Enid that the Royal Free outbreak mentioned very vivid and frightening dreams - this was what convinced me 17 years ago that what i had was M.E (no internet then and only one book in the library) I still have the problem of too much dreaming and extremely vivid and at times horrific dreams now, but not as bad as when at my worst.
     
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  9. Mattman1

    Mattman1

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    I agree that that sleep ends up really being one of, if not the biggest Cfs links-- time and again we read these reports of either sleeping far too much, or little. And like the fatigue, it's chronic-- I hear of people getting a lot back, but sleep ends up being one of those things that's hardest to normalize, and we're still sort of in this infancy stage of knowledge with it.

    We still don't understand the massive variation involved with sleep amounts between people. I can't believe people with FFI survive over a year without almost any sleep beyond stage 1.
     
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  10. AFCFS

    AFCFS Senior Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I did see my pdoc today and brought it up. He said it was good in that it meant the brain was still functioning, as opposed to an Alzheimer's patient who might not experience this, apparently their Acetylcholine being greatly reduced and /or neurons atrophied. The pdoc had mentioned previously that depressed people can suffer from a pseudo-dementia (where I understand that Alzheimer's is a type of dementia). As suspected, the Acetylcholine is not the only thing in play and has a close relation to Dopamine in cognition (and as experienced in the clarity of the dream state).

    This pdoc uses TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) with hopefully no or a minimal use of psych meds, as adjudicative treatment. In a very simple sense, the TMS interacts with the brain and then stimulates a positive cascade through the neurons/neurotransmitters. After this is effected, the brain will self-perpetuate the cascade on its own. So, waiting for some other tests to complete, but am under consideration for the TMS treatment.
     
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  11. In Vitro Infidelium

    In Vitro Infidelium Guest

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    Why should what happens in the dream state be replicated in the waking state ? I can only suggest something that is a poor equivalence but it sort of works as an analogy - consider booting your computer in 'safe mode' compared to booting to normal function; because less is being attempted in 'safe mode' there's a lesser chance of those few processes that are running being messed up by software conflicts - but of course the amount of things that can be achieved in 'safe mode' are far fewer. Dreaming may (to use a very crude analogy) be the brain's 'safe mode' and therefore only useful for 'clean up' and 'reset' processes. Visual memory is operative in dream states but the dream state has no real time visual inputs - new stuff may be much harder to process than stuff that's already been stored and put in neural order. In the waking state visual operation may be much more demanding than dream visual processing and the impaired brain/system may be far more subject to processing conflicts.

    It's worth noting that dreaming is not limited to REM sleep, although non REM dreaming is reported to lack the clarity you've experienced - however, sleep disturbance is associated to some degree with M.E/CFS and it may be that dreaming post M.E/CFS onset, is actually different than pre illness onset. I can't locate any references for it, however I've seen a number of people report on the forums that they experience sleep paralysis, and while that is not an unusal phenomenon, it may suggest that there is some breakdown or slippage in the cycling of sleep in M.E/CFS patients. That 'slippage' might in turn might lead to dreams being exceptionally vivid or memorable particularly if they were to occur near to waking. If that were the case then the apparent contrast between waking and sleeping 'clarity' would be even more (annoyingly) extreme - moving directly (in neurological terms) from bright visual contrast, to 'thinking fug'.

    IVI
     
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  12. AFCFS

    AFCFS Senior Member

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    I guess it is because what is experienced suggests normal function, and the chemical processes that are involved are active in some capacity in both sleep and waking states – safe mode and normal function - to follow the analogy, which is quite good – compelling. I would extend the analogy and say that the hard drive is not dead but the operating system may be temporarily compromised – it may require a tweak.

    Given that Alzheimer patients apparently do not have the ability to dream of normal cognition (e.g. dying hard drive), apparently because their Acetylcholine has been greatly reduced and /or neurons atrophied, seems telling (simplified - per doc’s statement).

    In any event, I have done a lot of tweaking before I have reloaded an OS, swapped out a hard drive, or trashed an entire computer. If the analogy is followed to that consequence, it essentially looks like something between ECT and death – so, will keep tweaking as long as I can.

    And then, so as not to overload the brain with thinking about the brain, sometimes I need to look at things that suggest more whimsical thought:

    Row, row, row your boat,
    Gently down the stream.
    Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
    Life is but a dream. :)
     
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  13. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I noticed a similar thing: a few years ago I had constant super-extreme anxiety symptoms all the time, and some anxiety psychosis too, such that I did not feel entirely sane. (Anxiety psychosis often appears in anxiety disorder when the anxiety gets to extreme levels).

    Every day was hellish because of the anxiety and psychosis combination, and I felt in a very mentally abnormal state all day. But remarkably, I noticed that my dream life was astoundingly normal, anxiety-free, and completely sane. In fact, my dreams at night became a kind of refuge from the mentally-abberant hell I experienced throughout the day.

    Most interestingly, when I first awoke the morning, with eyes open, and slowly coming out of my dreams and into reality, I noticed there was still no anxiety or psychosis during these first few minutes of being awake. But after a few minutes of this calm, the anxiety would kick in very fiercely, and I'd be back in hell again for the rest of the day.

    So whatever the biochemistry of sleep is that totally switched off my anxiety state, leading to normality in my dreams, this biochemistry seemed to linger for a few minutes into my waking state when I first awoke. To me it felt like that, in these few minutes, there was some kind of biochemical switchover from the sleep state to waking consciousness state, and that as soon as full waking consciousness was reached after a few minutes of being awake, all my terrible anxiety symptoms returned.

    I read somewhere that you don't have any NF-κB activation during sleep. NF-κB activation can instigate inflammation, and of course inflammation in the brain is linked to mental symptoms such as anxiety disorder, depression, etc.

    Thus it could well be that on first waking, the startup of NF-κB activation caused all my anxiety disorder symptoms to begin, and during sleep, the switching off of NF-κB activation allowed calm normally within my dreams.
     
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  14. AFCFS

    AFCFS Senior Member

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    Hip That is really quite fascinating - just doing a PubMed search on NF-κB with various AND choices gives a lot of results. To many to wade through, but this is also the type of thing I like to mention to a doc, just to see if it perks their ears or gets the head shake - as if to say "This guy has been spending way too much time on the Internet."
     
  15. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    What was more interesting is that I found inhibitors of NF-κB noticeably reduced my anxiety symptoms.

    Two reasonably potent NF-κB inhibitors are: grape seed extract 500 mg, and curcumin 1000 mg.

    I used to take these all the time to help combat the anxiety.
     
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