I had a mild migraine prodrome yesterday and I observed some visual pattern variations that I haven’t found in a Google search. I was at my computer when the usual pulsating aura began right at the center of my vision. That complicated any further typing, so before it got worse I clicked over to some online pictures, and happened onto some brightly colored visually complex pattern pictures. After a couple of minutes of looking at various pictures the prodrome scotoma had expanded to the size of my hand held at arm’s length. Behind the flashing scotoma there was nothing to be seen or comprehended. I then encountered some large simple pictures and the scotoma seemed to lessen, so I brought up large blank screens and went through various colors to see if the different colors made any difference to the scotoma. Yes they did, and with a few variations of color I discovered that when this large area of smooth color matched the colors being flashed in my scotoma area that the scotoma seemed to vanish. That is, when the scotoma matched the background color I stopped seeing the scotoma . It was still there probably, but I wasn’t seeing it.
That particular prodrome didn’t last very long, about ten minutes, and I don’t know if these experiments affected it, or its duration. I am adding this blank color field to my list of migraine prodrome experiments. In the Wikipedia article there is an animated gif photograph of a pagoda on a mountain top with a scintillating scotoma. There is no mention of the area within the simulated scotoma where there is no dancing affect, but it is what I observed in my own experience described above. Above and to our left of the pagoda you may observe there is no scintillating scotoma, but at the 8 o’clock position below this blank area where there would be considerable detail in the pagoda’s roof, there is instead an area of dancing dots.
What we may be seeing is the brain’s layered feedback system trying to make sense of sensory input, but having too much, or too little, of something. Watch Jeff Hawkins’s TED talk on brain science, and read his book On Intelligence. Perhaps blood flow, or an over/under abundance of a normal brain protein of some sort is what’s causing the affect. Because different people have their own unique scintillating scotomas it may be that what they are seeing is their brain’s unique organizing principle for their visual input, or it may be a different layer of brain tissue that is having the problem. The dancing dots would be a first order of organization, and the blotches of color a second layer of organization, and the flashing lines and patterns a third layer of organization.
The simulated picture of the pagoda brain response perceives with dots, and the simulated street market brain perceives in larger cyan, yellow, magenta, green spots. I think I see with the jagged bright lines in CYMK or RGB, and will observe that carefully the next time I experience a migraine scintillating scotoma. It would be interesting to find if people with similar scotoma patterns have similar recognition patterns of their normal visual realities, and if this affects their general relationship with their external reality.
Comments are welcome. Let’s explore this phenomenon carefully, because this is a unique opportunity to look into our brain’s functioning.