A wireless brain-sensing headband is benefiting more than just the consumer. The valuable data that the headband creates and collects is shedding new light for neuroscience researchers on what happens to our brains as we age.
Muse is a wearable device that helps users meditate. It guides the user through meditation by changing the sounds it gives off, based on the users’ brain waves. It has scientifically been able to reduce anxiety, stress and depression while improving focus, performance and quality of life.
The InteraXon-developed device has four electrodes that register and transmit the strength and amplitude of brain waves that can show if thinking is scattered or focused. Muse transmits that real-time information to users’ tablets or smartphones to help them train their brains to reach a state of mindfulness and focus. This information can also be shared anonymously and securely for research purposes.
The manufacturer of the headband allows qualified researchers to access the database from the electroencephalographic (EEG) data. This has given scientists an idea of what is going on with the minds of thousands of people who use this headband.
An EEG test detects the electrical activity in the brain using electrodes attached to the scalp. When brain cells communicate, they emit electrical impulses that show up as wavy lines on EEG tests. It is one of the main tests for epilepsy and is used to diagnose other brain disorders, according to the Mayo Clinic. A typical EEG test will take anywhere from 60 minutes to 3 hours, depending on if you have to sleep for the test.
“On a good day, you could run one session of one experiment on maybe three people in the lab. Using Muse, we had a chance to test 6,000 people in multiple sessions. That’s a lifetime’s work in a normal EEG lab,” said Allison Sekuler, co-author on the study and a McMaster University professor of psychology, neuroscience and behavior. “The ability to be able test this many people at once, I think, is the future of where science is going. We’re merging big data and neuroscience.”
The research was funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Engage grant and was published online in the eNeuro journal.
[Want to stay more on top of MDO content? Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter.]