My ongoing heart rate variability (HRV) measurements continued to show a modest improvement during the month of May. As background, if you don’t know about HRV, you can read this post Do You Have a Healthy Heart? to learn what I am measuring and why it matters. You can also refer to my previous readings here: Baseline, March, and April.
The primary HRV measurement I am evaluating (RMSSD) increased from 28.1 up to 29.6 (and an increase is a positive improvement). In addition, the trend over the second half of the month was dramatically better, so I expect that next month’s reading will be substantially better.
The Central Nervous System and Brain
I continue to find interesting articles and books about the nervous system as well as the brain, and I recently completed reading The New Brain by Dr. Richard Restak.
In his book Dr. Restak writes about sensory adaptations made by the brain when a person loses the ability to see (enhanced hearing is but one example). Another example relates to how a blind person learns to read Braille; however not everyone who learns Braille does so in the same manner.
Some people read Braille using a single finger, and some people use three fingers treating them as a single unit. “Those who read Braille for several hours a day and use several fingers simultaneously develop a kind of merged, giant, large finger,” says Thomas Elbert, a brain researcher in Germany. This “merged finger” phenomenon often leads to the person losing the ability to determine which of the three fingers is actually receiving the stimulus (and not just while reading).
Try the following experiment: Take off your shoes and socks, close your eyes, and have someone lightly touch different toes. Can you correctly identify which toe was touched?
I did pretty well when my wife touched either my big toe or my little toe; however I did no better than random chance when trying to identify between toes two, three, and four. Given how we trap our toes inside of sensory-limiting shoes most of the day, it isn’t that surprising that our brain begins to look at them as a single unit.