Author Topic: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming  (Read 8691 times)

McGrupp

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After a week of figuring out how to set things up (mainly because I didn't realize my comp didn't have bluetooth) I have set up and started messing around with a Neurosky Mindwave.

It's basically an EEG device that can differentiate waveforms and interact with a computer using it. For a crash course in EEG see this thread: http://www.principiadiscordia.com/forum/index.php/topic,34866.0.html
For some nuts and bolts on how it picks up and discerns between meditative state and alert state read here: http://company.neurosky.com/files/neurosky_esense_whitepaper.pdf


Whenever you go to a website about neurofeedback you tend to get one of two things: Someone trying to sell you something, or someone making some pretty cool claims while toeing the line (or running past it in some cases) of being a total crazy pants. In any case I was curious so I checked it out.

Neurosky works. At least it does appear to do the basics of what it says it does. You put it on your head and turn it on, it shows you the different levels of waves you exhibit. If you're running an app that measures your meditation or your alertness it tends to work.

Playing the minigames that came with it, if you close your eyes and let your mind go blank, the little silver ball on the screen will float and make a harmonic noise. Open your eyes and try to read the screen and it drops back down. Ditto with the attention. They have one with a barrel that you are supposed to focus on in order to make it catch fire. That one is a bit harder and I haven't quite figured out the mental trick to it.

Here's a couple videos of what it looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeDrfuJXW6Y&feature=c4-overview&playnext=1&list=TLHUnqIuQxb8Y
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD5IDdVUZAU

Anyhow, it certainly seems to be somewhat legit. Whether or not you can train your brain to get better at these things is one of the things I want to get to the bottom of and figure out. I'll continue to post what I find here.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2013, 10:06:53 pm by McGrupp »

McGrupp

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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2013, 10:03:45 pm »
2 programs interest me specifically. The first one is a meditation calender. Basically it involves running the program once a day for a meditiation session and records how well you were able to clear your head. Za-Zen I think it would be called? I've never really meditated before (unless you count falling asleep or getting bored 5 minutes in) but it's always something I was interested in and a little calm never hurt anyone. I figure this program will be neat as I am interested to see if I can improve my brain recordings over time (in theory and also in experiments with Buddhist monks the answer seems to be yes, but I'm still skeptical)

As I said before, I've never really meditated so I'd be interested in feedback from those that have.

The second program was a free app called LucidScribe. It is a program that claims that it can detect REM sleep as well as lucid dreaming. Here is a link to the site, and remember what I said about crazy pants(whether he is or isn't I couldn't really say). http://lucidcode.com/LucidScribe/

Quote
My product is stronger than cocaine, more hallucinogenic than acid and more explosive than ecstasy. It's like getting a personal visit from God.
However, despite promising us a visit from God, a lot of his data makes sense. I've sat in on sleep studies at the hospital and I've seen EEGs pick up REM sleep, if he's faked any data he took his time. Also its open source and free. He has part of his program that will detect when a dream occurs (rapid eye movements) and the program will begin to play a prerecorded song. This song will be heard in the dream, causing the dreamer to realize he is dreaming and take control. At least that's the theory of it. Although despite some wild claims the findings he has reported thus far are fairly down to earth. http://lsdbase.org/findings/

I don't have all the equipment necessary for all of the program but I should be able to pick up REM sleep with the Neurosky that I have now. So that's my first goal: see if it does in fact detect REM sleep.

Example of what it might look like here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyHweEG6EzA

One of the wilder things this guy is working on is that he claims to be able to communicate from within his lucid dream: http://hackaday.com/2012/06/20/communicating-from-inside-your-dreams/

I have literally no experience with lucid dreams. I have no idea how outrageous that claim is. But, the software is free so I figure I'll take a look. As with meditation if anyone has experience with lucid dreaming I'd love to hear about it, as I really don't know what to think of it.

At the very least it's been fun setting all this stuff up and even if its all bunk there is still the zombie game where you can pop their heads by blinking (blink detection works great, I can vouch for that) but still I consider myself a curious skeptic.

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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2013, 12:52:51 pm »
2 programs interest me specifically. The first one is a meditation calender. Basically it involves running the program once a day for a meditiation session and records how well you were able to clear your head. Za-Zen I think it would be called? I've never really meditated before (unless you count falling asleep or getting bored 5 minutes in) but it's always something I was interested in and a little calm never hurt anyone. I figure this program will be neat as I am interested to see if I can improve my brain recordings over time (in theory and also in experiments with Buddhist monks the answer seems to be yes, but I'm still skeptical)

As I said before, I've never really meditated so I'd be interested in feedback from those that have.

The second program was a free app called LucidScribe. It is a program that claims that it can detect REM sleep as well as lucid dreaming. Here is a link to the site, and remember what I said about crazy pants(whether he is or isn't I couldn't really say). http://lucidcode.com/LucidScribe/

Quote
My product is stronger than cocaine, more hallucinogenic than acid and more explosive than ecstasy. It's like getting a personal visit from God.
However, despite promising us a visit from God, a lot of his data makes sense. I've sat in on sleep studies at the hospital and I've seen EEGs pick up REM sleep, if he's faked any data he took his time. Also its open source and free. He has part of his program that will detect when a dream occurs (rapid eye movements) and the program will begin to play a prerecorded song. This song will be heard in the dream, causing the dreamer to realize he is dreaming and take control. At least that's the theory of it. Although despite some wild claims the findings he has reported thus far are fairly down to earth. http://lsdbase.org/findings/

I don't have all the equipment necessary for all of the program but I should be able to pick up REM sleep with the Neurosky that I have now. So that's my first goal: see if it does in fact detect REM sleep.

Example of what it might look like here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyHweEG6EzA

One of the wilder things this guy is working on is that he claims to be able to communicate from within his lucid dream: http://hackaday.com/2012/06/20/communicating-from-inside-your-dreams/

I have literally no experience with lucid dreams. I have no idea how outrageous that claim is. But, the software is free so I figure I'll take a look. As with meditation if anyone has experience with lucid dreaming I'd love to hear about it, as I really don't know what to think of it.

At the very least it's been fun setting all this stuff up and even if its all bunk there is still the zombie game where you can pop their heads by blinking (blink detection works great, I can vouch for that) but still I consider myself a curious skeptic.

Reminds me, gotta go meditate. :|
I find it reduces depression, intrusive thoughts, emotional repression, improves concentration and my ability to handle distress...
...Why?  here comes the SCIENCE :fap:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121144007.htm

Quote
The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. Although no change was seen in a self-awareness-associated structure called the insula, which had been identified in earlier studies, the authors suggest that longer-term meditation practice might be needed to produce changes in that area. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.
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McGrupp

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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2013, 05:30:37 pm »

Reminds me, gotta go meditate. :|
I find it reduces depression, intrusive thoughts, emotional repression, improves concentration and my ability to handle distress...
...Why?  here comes the SCIENCE :fap:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121144007.htm

Quote
The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. Although no change was seen in a self-awareness-associated structure called the insula, which had been identified in earlier studies, the authors suggest that longer-term meditation practice might be needed to produce changes in that area. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.


That's a cool article. Most of the science stuff I've read about seem to support similar findings. Fascinating stuff.

The meditation game has achievements. Thus far I've gotten the 'scatterbrained' achievement.

GrannySmith

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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2013, 09:11:28 am »
This reminds me, I have to START meditating!! I tried a few times solo zen meditation without help but i can't keep my mind empty - and it's really really hard to even concentrate on one point for more than a minute or so... Every time i tried tai chi i felt almost like on the way to a meditative state, though i haven't mastered it enough to not think about it while doing it. (then again, how do i know what's a meditative state?)

But this program looks fun not only for this purpose, but even just because it would be fun to peek into my own brain! Feedback is evolution! :D
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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2013, 06:46:46 pm »
This reminds me, I have to START meditating!! I tried a few times solo zen meditation without help but i can't keep my mind empty - and it's really really hard to even concentrate on one point for more than a minute or so... Every time i tried tai chi i felt almost like on the way to a meditative state, though i haven't mastered it enough to not think about it while doing it. (then again, how do i know what's a meditative state?)

But this program looks fun not only for this purpose, but even just because it would be fun to peek into my own brain! Feedback is evolution! :D

The thing about meditating?  everyone's crappy at it at first.  You just keep dragging your brain back to the focus.
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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2013, 12:44:19 pm »
for me it's hard to even find time for meditation...i keep expanding my todo list way faster than i can strike things out... i know, excuses...

i love your new signature gif by the way!!!
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McGrupp

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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2013, 12:54:16 pm »
I've had decent luck the last few weeks with just a deep breathing method. Basically you just sit quietly and breath in and out and count your breaths. When you get to 10 you start over at 1 but they say to let yourself lose count. I've only had time every few days or so and I think my longest session was only about 35 minutes.

According to the program I'm getting better at it, but I didn't really need the program to tell me that as it just seems to get easier (still not great as sitting still has never been my strong suit). Strange as it is, hooking up my brain to a computer has been an incentive to meditate.

Unfortunately the chart doesn't save after each session (only the average meditation/concentration rate) so I can't actually post the logs. I do think that I've finally figured out a program that I can do that with and will hopefully have an update to this sometime this weekend.

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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2013, 12:26:34 am »
Cool...
I'm finally dragging myself back to a sitting program...It's one of the few things that will keep me from making these weird verbal outbursts when no-one's around to hear me, it keeps away intrusive thoughts also.

http://www.drmartinseif.com/resources/intrusive-thoughts.html

I don't have those too often these days, they are really creepy.
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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2013, 04:34:34 pm »
I have a Mindwave and used to have an NIA (which is no longer manufactured). The NIA is a pretty standard kind of EEG, with about four electrodes. I have absolutely no clue, however, about how they managed to get any kind of signal off the mindwave -- since it has one electrode on the forehead and an ambient-noise one on the earlobe.


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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2013, 05:08:15 pm »
I have a Mindwave and used to have an NIA (which is no longer manufactured). The NIA is a pretty standard kind of EEG, with about four electrodes. I have absolutely no clue, however, about how they managed to get any kind of signal off the mindwave -- since it has one electrode on the forehead and an ambient-noise one on the earlobe.

Cool! How was your experience with the NIA vs the Mindwave?

Having only one active electrode is definitlely a limiting factor for the Mindwave. The reference cancels out most of the interference but at the end of the day you're really only recording over the FP1, which is one site out of 20-70 potential ones used on hospital EEGs.

I think (and this is based on my extremely limited knowledge of EEG) that the reason it still works with one is that brains in general tend to generate similar EEG waves over different points. Except when they don't in cases of epilepsy or a stroke or some other brain ailment. But in terms of finding the general state of brain activity it seems to work (at least in my case)

An example of a multiple channel EEG in normal 25 year old patient in resting state:


FP1 is the top one. You can kind of see how they all correlate together but it's easy to see how something could be missed with only one site.

McGrupp

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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2013, 05:12:27 pm »
Oh yeah and another odd thing is that all of the programs seem to measure each waveform and then give the results as a percentage of each sort of waveform. (i.e. alpha, theta, gamma)

This is odd as usually in hospital EEGs the doctors point to series of waveforms and say 'there are alpha waves there'  Or 'I see theta waves in this last minute of recording.

I'm still having trouble finding out what, if any, utility there is to record all of them at once.

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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2013, 06:15:48 pm »
I found the NIA a little better for BCI. However, the support isn't really any good, because they haven't been manufactured for six years. It was also a little more obscure, a little more uncomfortable to wear (the electrodes are on a band that goes around your forehead, and it attaches to a box about the size of half a carton of cigarettes, which itself is tethered over USB to the computer; the electrodes are diamond-shaped and dig into your forehead, so after a while you have a bunch of diamond-shaped dents on your forehead)... Third party support for the Mindwave was a little better, since it was cheaper and had better marketing.

Neurosky manufactures all the consumer-grade EEG controller chips I'm aware of (aside from situations where people build OpenEEG setups and program their own chips, in which case they are manufactured by Atmel). I *think* the NIA and the Mindwave have precisely the same chipset; at least, they speak the same protocol (a protocol written up by Neurosky, and a de-facto standard even if it isn't a de-jure standard). But, the plain fact is that the NIA has more sensors, despite being unweildy in comparison.


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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2013, 06:43:50 am »
I found the NIA a little better for BCI. However, the support isn't really any good, because they haven't been manufactured for six years. It was also a little more obscure, a little more uncomfortable to wear (the electrodes are on a band that goes around your forehead, and it attaches to a box about the size of half a carton of cigarettes, which itself is tethered over USB to the computer; the electrodes are diamond-shaped and dig into your forehead, so after a while you have a bunch of diamond-shaped dents on your forehead)... Third party support for the Mindwave was a little better, since it was cheaper and had better marketing.

Neurosky manufactures all the consumer-grade EEG controller chips I'm aware of (aside from situations where people build OpenEEG setups and program their own chips, in which case they are manufactured by Atmel). I *think* the NIA and the Mindwave have precisely the same chipset; at least, they speak the same protocol (a protocol written up by Neurosky, and a de-facto standard even if it isn't a de-jure standard). But, the plain fact is that the NIA has more sensors, despite being unweildy in comparison.

Yeah, I think they both use the thinkgear chip. NIA also looks at facial muscle movement as well as eye movement. combined with more sensors probably the superior device, especially for BCI.

Did you ever find a decent program to record the raw waveforms? The best one I've found is LucidScribe but I haven't been able to copy the logs or manipulate the graphs in a reasonable way. Even the copied pictures don't retain their x and y axis markers.

I did save a couple logs from it. Each one of these is 1 minute long. The top graph is eyes open and reading a book. The bottom graph is eyes closed and meditating.



Clearly there are some differences, mainly the alpha waves as well as the meditation and attention score. However the program won't let me take out variables or resize the graph so its hard to see some of the lines. The big spikes in the raw EEG signal in the top graph are eye blinks which is kinda neat.

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Re: Experiments in Neurofeedback, Meditation, and Lucid Dreaming
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2013, 07:05:19 am »
After a week of figuring out how to set things up (mainly because I didn't realize my comp didn't have bluetooth) I have set up and started messing around with a Neurosky Mindwave.


And then McCrupp was a technozombie.   :horrormirth: