Posted by: PD Warrior | October 11, 2007

Brain Frog

No, it isn’t a typo. I meant to say Brain Frog.

Many people with Parkinson’s Disease experience a phenomenon we like to call, for lack of a better term, “Brain Fog.” It’s a slowing down of the thought process as the brain searches for a particular word, phrase, or memory. Sometimes it lasts for a fleeting moment, often while trying to think of a word or phrase during conversation. Other times it lasts a little longer, such as trying to recall a specific event, or trying to remember what task you were doing when you were interrupted just moments before.

When it happens to me, I have a physical sensation, almost as if my brain is trying to swim through water. I know I will reach my destination and the thought will be complete at some point in time, I just wish my feeble mind could do the mental doggy paddle a little faster. It’s especially embarrassing when I’m in the middle of a conversation and I have to pause, searching for a common everyday word.

My mind also has another trick it likes to play, something that as far as I know is not related to PD – something I like to call the “Brain Frog.”

The “Brain Frog” is pretty much the direct inverse of ADD -attention deficit disorder- a condition where people (especially children) can’t sit still long enough to concentrate on a single subject or task. When “brain frog”kicks in, my mind goes into overdrive and begins to work on several things at once, hopping like a frog from one thing to another and back, fully capable of concentrating on more than one thing at a time, something I have always been able to do.

I have been an accomplished piano player for as long as I can remember. I began taking lessons at the age of five, and it used to absolutely drive my parents nuts because I would practice the piano and watch the television all at the same time, fully able to concentrate on both without missing a beat.

Even now, I will sit in front of the TV and work on a crossword puzzle at the same time; something which drives my wife crazy. She has no concept of being able to mentally do more than one thing at a time. That doesn’t mean she can’t multi task, she does that with the best of them. She can have three or four things going at the same time and be fully able to keep track of them. The difference is this, when she is working on more than one thing at a time, she has to divide things into separate tasks and completely stop what she is doing to move on to the next task, only concentrating on one thing at a time.

The funny thing is, I absolutely can not physically multi task. That is to say, if I am working on something that requires physical labor (other than piano playing) I am not capable of doing more than one thing at a time. Perhaps that is where the PD comes into play. For example, a simple task such as walking for any kind of distance, requires all of my concentration. If I am trying to carry on a conversation with someone beside me at the same time, I will either run into something, or trip and fall. Go figure…

The other unique thing about the “Brain Frog” is that it absolutely demands attention, or I will start to get very cranky. When my mind is in gear, and all the wheels are spinning, I better have something constructive for it to be doing; crossword puzzles are a good thing, writing is even better…the more “creative” I am being with my thoughts, the happier the Frog is, and the less it hops around. That is to say, it hops straight ahead instead leaping from one mental Lily Pad to the next.

Hobbies such as drawing, painting, or my recently acquired addiction – woodworking – really seem to make the frog happy. They require both the mind and body to work in conjunction. The amphibian is pleased because he must analyze everything mathematically, and esthetically, then concentrate on blocking the erratic behavior of PD hands long enough for them to create  whatever it is that the frog has envisioned.



  1. Ohhh….that Brain Frog! My gosh, you’ve described me! And you are so right…there are days I have to do it, else I get crabby.

    But I find, even when I write, I still ‘hop around’. One thing that keeps me focused for awhile is photography. I feel perfectly in the moment and filled with concentration on my subject.

    Good post, Joe!


  2. i’m glad to hear you are out there and having fun with your ‘brain frog.’ as a parkinson’s patient who collects frogs, it was kinda kicky to see the two words being used in the same thought. i understand the concept, however. i am much the same, however i cannot either multi-task mentally or physically, it seems. and once i am ‘on’ i must have something to occupy my energy & my thought process. it is imperative that i have something constructive to expend the ‘frog’ on. so i plan fundraisers. every year for the past 10 years, i have done at least one lg. fundraiser a year. i would really like to correspond with you if you are willing to write me back. thanks for your time. joan


  3. One of the things that always amazes me when I read your posts is your complete understanding of how this disease effects you. I know people who have PD, and I have an aunt with MS and most of those people get afraid when some of these symptoms occur. it causes them a lot of undue stress. But, you seem to just flow with it and you understand that it will pass.

    I wish more people with PD would find you and learn some of what you know.


  4. wow. this may sound mean on some levels, but since that is not my intention in saying it, i will say it anyway: brain frog sounds pretty cool 🙂


  5. dear cathy: i’m very new to this place and i, too, have been trying to read all of pd warrior’s posts. i agree that he has a really good handle on his disease & that his attitude is wonderful. i have been dxed w/ pd for 17 yrs., when i was 39. i think that i have a pretty good handle on the disease also, but on that occasional night when my sleeping pills don’t work and i’m awake all by myself at 3 in the morning and the house is so quiet that it hurts, i must confess to getting what i call the heebee jeebeeies. it’s when you cannot rest-the thoughts are coming at you so quickly and you feel as if you might have a heart attack but you’re frozen so solid that you can’t even feel your heart beat. You keep waiting for the little dog to come running up & pull back the curtain while you are standing there sputtering “i am the great & powerful oz….uh, i am the….” those night terrors are so powerful and from talking w/
    hundreds of people living w/ pd, i don’t think that i’m alone in having this happen.


  6. Another good post, PD. There is just so much we have to understand if we are not personally touched by the illness. You do such a fine job of enlightening me.


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