New technology can measure brain waves and affect moods
About Brain Wave Technology
Brainwave (brain-wave) technology is being researched regarding its promises to enhance wellness and health. There are a variety of products on the market and various claims (depending on the company involved) that brainwave technology can help with pain, stress, anxiety, injuries, sleeplessness, learning, performance, and addictive dependencies.1 One of these systems is Brainwave Optimization (also known as HIRREM). The company involved, Brain State Technologies, proposes that emotional and physical trauma take the brain out of balance. Brainwave Optimization uses “noninvasive sensors placed on the head” while software takes the data collected and translates it into sound, allowing the brain to correct imbalances.2 The Immrama Institute also uses audio tools in its brainwave technology. The brain has beta waves (for concentration and focus), alpha waves (for relaxation and reflection), theta waves (for meditation and stress relief), delta waves (deep dreamless sleep), and gamma waves (for “bursts of insight or high-level information processing”). This company suggests that audio technology can guide the brain into any of these wave states through an MP3 or CD.3 Neurosky makes wearable technologies with EEG and ECG biosensors for both the body and the mind.4 The ECG biosensors, for the body, are meant to promote health and cardio fitness.5 The EEG biosensors are for the mind, and are marketed to improve memory, concentration, and focus.6
Recently, the technology called Muse, created by InteraXon (co-founded by Ariel Garten), has received media attention. Muse has been described as “a Fitbit for the brain”, which measures neural activities through a biofeedback device that is wearable. Instead of activities and calories, the headband can translate brain activity so that it can be tracked on a smart phone or tablet. The accompanying app, Calm, has “a three-minute exercise designed to help people manage stress”. Garten believes that cognitive strength can be built. The Calm app uses the Buddhist awareness principle to help users meditate. Other apps can be developed by using InteraXon’s software. Muse works by using EEG sensors to amplify the brainwaves. The data is sent to a Bluetooth device, and an app “instructs the wearer how to focus on breathing”. Over time, and with practice, the user can learn to maintain the calm state for longer periods of time. At the end of the session, the app tracks results. It is “game-ified, and a calm state earns points”.7 The goal of Muse is to improve memory and cognitive functioning, while decreasing stress.8 Neurofeedback, or “computer-guided meditation” requires practice; fortunately, the Muse headband has been reviewed as being comfortable.9
Find out more about biofeedback.