I received a Muse as a gift from my beloved wife this past holiday. Muse is a brain sensing headband that uses neurofeedback as an aid to enhance and reinforce mindful meditation techniques. You pair the Muse with your smartphone or tablet to review your meditation results and progress through Muse’s app.
The device itself is very light, adjustable, and comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
What is Neurofeedback
Gaining insight into your own brain activity is possible through the process of neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback uses scalp sensors to monitor your brain waves using an electroencephalograph (EEG)
People who engage in neurofeedback can respond to real-time EEG information about their brain wave activity in order to produce a desired brain wave shift. From improving mental health to controlling Parkinson’s disease symptoms, neurofeedback has gained increasing numbers of practitioners since its inception around sixty years ago.
Positive Real-Life Impacts of Daily Neurofeedback
Described in an article in the Journal of Neurotherapy as physical therapy for the brain, a daily session of neurofeedback can produce positive brain wave changes that can improve mental and physical functioning.
Technological advances in EEG diagnostics has enabled neurofeedback to provide information valuable to enabling people suffering from a variety of conditions:
ADHD, anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, chronic pain, brain injuries, PTSD, and autism.
According to the Mayo Clinic Biofeedback appeals to people for a variety of reasons:
- It’s noninvasive.
- It might reduce or eliminate the need for medications.
- It might be a treatment alternative for those who can’t tolerate medications
- It might be an option when medications haven’t worked well.
- It might be an alternative to medications for some conditions during pregnancy.
- It helps people take charge of their health.
How Neurofeedback from Muse Can Help
Muse teaches mindfulness with simple guided meditation sessions using their Calm app. With regular use, you’ll train your brain to do some amazing things. In as few as 3 minutes a day, you can lower levels of cortisol (your stress hormone), enhance your body’s immune response, improve your mood, help you recover more quickly from stress and sharpen your focus.
A typical session involves listening to subtle guiding sound cues to reach the desired focused brainwave response. This helps strengthen the user’s ability to reach this state during everyday events and, in turn, deter mind wandering or negative thoughts as well as improve quality of life.
Muse detects a full range of brainwave activity. Brainwaves are typically broken up into five bands, which Muse is capable of detecting.
1. Gamma: Hyper brain activity, great for learning
2. Beta: Actively thinking or problem-solving
3. Alpha: Relaxed and calm
4. Theta: Sleep, deep relaxation, and visualization
5. Delta: Deeply asleep/not dreaming.
All of these bands are used in making the analysis that Muse provides at the end of every session, giving you unique insights with every Muse session.
The amazing thing about this type of feedback is that it can help the subject gain understanding and awareness about their ability to directly impact their physical state, with their thoughts alone.
Although I was quite skeptical at first, I have been using the device off and on for the past month and have to say I am very pleased so far. I typically use the device every day for at least 5 minutes on my lunch break at work. After each session, I definitely feel a positive shift in my overall mood and ability to focus. It’s like having access to your brain’s reset button on a computer. The positive effects felt from a single session can last for hours.
Muse has open software for developers that are interested in developing their own applications with this technology. The possibilities of this technology may lay the groundwork for other useful applications besides neurofeedback.
Research is already being conducted to have similar devices to allow users new ways to interface with computers. This technology could link mental commands and emotional reactions directly to keystrokes, mouse operations or gestures within the host machine.
The potential for this technology is so far reaching that it has sparked my interest in conducting my own research. I hope to provide future posts with my findings.